Is it just me or does it seem like the use of foul language is on the rise? Do you remember when “he swears like a sailor” was the designation for a man who had a filthy mouth? If a “she” cursed a lot, she was unladylike, crude, and unattractive. Children did not swear in front of their parents. But today, anything goes. I have seen video of little children cussing out their parents, of teens spewing foul language at teachers and police officers, of neighbors screaming profanity and vulgarity across yard boundaries. What has happened to our society? That’s a stupid question. I do know the answer, but I am constantly flummoxed by the downward spiral of language, particularly in public forums.
This week, I became embroiled in a brief but interesting series of tweets on Twitter with another tweeter who corrected me for not reading a previous tweet in order to get the context of the verbal barrage between two well-known commentators. Good catch, Jacob Walker, not that I agree with everything you say. I observed that Keith Oberman and Kurt Schlicter exchanged a few disparaging words, unlike our little American tune which says, “Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play–where seldom is heard a disparaging word…” That is not happening in the land of the free and the brave any longer. Of course, I could not keep my Tweeting mouth shut and suggested that these two individuals were behaving in a less than professional way. Jacob asked me why I expect men of this caliber to take a higher plane.
My answer is smply that they are intelligent, well-educated, mature professional men who have risen to heights in their professions that very few people have reached. My question is: Is it necessary to sink to the depths of language depravity to call another person out because of his or her political or religious viewpoints? Is it possible to achieve the same goal without all the vulgarity and lewd speech?
Personally, I find this language distasteful and unappealing. Once an individual starts using foul language to make a point, I turn him off. He has lost credibility in my estimation. For example, I had a professor at Glassboro State College who taught a class in poetry. In that class, I heard some of the most vile language come out of his mouth, words that I didn’t know existed. Of course, he was teaching a modern American poetry class, and what else should I have expected? The language in the poetry itself is extraordinarily crass and vulgar, a far cry from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
As I watch television, I hear words that I would never say. As I read Facebook posts and Twitter tweets, I read words I would never write. I know the words are out there. I just don’t know why we need to say them so freely or frequently.
Some will say that swearing releases tension. A few weeks ago, I read an article that suggested that people who swear are more honest than people who don’t. I’m sure there is limited data on that hypothesis. All I know is that I don’t like it and the more I hear it, the more I hate it. I started to analyze the use of the vulgar word as it is used. For example, when someone says, “What the hell?” What does that mean? Hell is a place. Would it make sense for me to say, “What the Shop Rite?” I heard an individual say, “It was as painful as hell.” I wanted to say, “You have no idea, buddy.” I heard another person say, “She is as funny as hell.” I don’t think anyone will be laughing in Hell.
The F-bomb is so frequently used that I can’t even keep up with it. I was under the impression that this word was a substitution for the act of fornication, but I guess a person can use it any which way–as an adjective or a noun or a verb. So, are there no better words that are less rankling on the ear and on the mind?
I wonder why people say “Oh God” as an interjection. God? Are these people crying out to God for help? Why are they using God’s name as a space filler? There is a commandment about that. Why do people use the name “Jesus Christ” to swear? The most perfect person who ever lived, who came to save us from our sins, whose name is above all name, has His name dragged down the level of a swear word? Why would we do that? I don’t get it. I’ve often wondered why we don’t use the most heinous dictators’ names as swear words. Why do we use the name of God and His son Jesus instead?
I doubt that we will ever go back to a level of decency in our language since foul language has become so prolific and acceptable, but I for one find it distasteful.