Tuesday, January 10, 2012

dirty words

The U.S. Supreme Court is munching on the question of whether government may police the airwaves and clamp down on cuss words in a time when anyone can get pretty much anything on the Internet and people in general cuss more than they once did. All I can think is, better them than me.

Cuss words on television have risen as women's necklines have plunged. But trying to check or revise such behavior really is a thorny thicket. How can you tell people not to say "shit" when everyone is saying "shit?" If tit parades create corporate wealth, who in a capitalist system would complain?

I have to admit that I like cuss words. As a kid like any other kid, it took me almost no time at all to learn them. It took the better part of 20 years to learn their usefulness and art and even today I have to plead guilty to careless misuse. George Carlin probably had the last word on cuss words, but that doesn't mean the conversation can't reach the august realms of the Supreme Court. Carlin, for my money, was not one of those cheap-date comedians who uses cuss words because he lacks any original comedic material and is petrified that his audience will yawn him into obscurity. Carlin was a class act -- one that the Supreme Court will have to factor into their munchings.

Better them than me.

When I listen to my kids cuss, I realize that mindless cussing really is an indicator of a mind that is somehow impoverished ... just as your third-grade teacher and mine primly asserted. On the other hand, when I hear the virtuous inveigh against 'naughty' or 'wrong' speech, it has the same effect as fingernails on a blackboard: Head for the hills! Language is a lush garden; let 10,000 flowers bloom!

But then there is the matter of offending others. I don't like to offend others unless I'm intent on offending them and the careless use of language can really be offensive to others ... for whatever reason. So a little care is warranted, I think. Whether that care can be legislated to create a single approach that fits all circumstances ... I doubt it.

Let the Supreme Court figure it out, assuming they want to use their time that way.

1 comment:

  1. I always liked learning them in other languages. Somehow feels more refined that way...;-)