Jewish World Review Jan. 30, 2004 / 7 Shevat, 5764
Profanity brings out the f-word (fury)
While channel surfing the other night, I came across an adorable
sitcom kid using a three-letter word for the human backside that rhymes
with a wide-mouth fish. I zapped the kid with the remote. He didn't feel a
thing, which is most unfortunate.
Maybe I should have waited to see if the adorable sitcom mom came
back after the commercial break and washed his mouth out with soap.
Finally, some reality television to get enthused about.
Potty mouth is epidemic. Kids, adults, even presidential candidate
Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., let it fly on the campaign
Last fall the FCC ruled that using the dirtiest of the
dirties (yes, the word that has made every kids' mother turn red and blow
smoke out her ears) was fine by them as long as the word was used as an
"adjective or an expletive to emphasize an exclamation" and "not used in a
When was the last time one of your kids used an off-color word and
you paused to diagram the sentence?
"Mommy was going to swat your little behind for using that bad
word, Jeffie, but since you used the word as an adjective, Mommy's going to
let it go this time. Just be sure you don't ever use it as a noun, which
for review purposes, Jeffie, would be a person, place or thing. Oh, and
don't use it in a sexual situation."
"What's a sexual situation, Momma?"
"We'll talk about that after nap time, Jeffie."
Maybe in Tinsel Town, but not in the real world.
A little four-year-old friend was sharing bits and pieces of news
recently when her brown eyes grew big and she said that her mom put
"binegar" on her tongue for saying a bad word. Binegar is vinegar when you
can't pronounce your v's.
Another friend told of showing a video to kids at a family
gathering recently. It was only a mild exaggeration when she said she fast
forwarded through so many parts with inappropriate matter that the movie
was finished before the microwave popcorn was.
Responsible parents don't hit the play button on a laugh track
when lewd talk fills their homes. They squash it like a bug. Nor do they
want vulgarities casually popping up on TV or radio.
Some 1.5 million people bombarded FCC Chairman Michael Powell with
e-mails expressing that same sentiment. Powell reversed course and
announced he now wants to prohibit the use of the f-word and drastically
increase fines for stations that violate the indecency law. (And you
thought those calls and e-mails never made a difference.)
Yet there will continue to be a tug of war between what
constitutes decent and indecent as the major networks continue to push the
envelope. After all, they must keep up, or down in this case, with the
cable airwaves where foul mouths and coarse behavior are standard fare.
Cable personalities such as Howard Stern, the Osbournes and the
Sopranos are adept at using obscenities as nouns, verbs, conjunctions,
prepositions, commas and semi-colons. They would be hard pressed to play
Scrabble using more than four tiles a turn.
There are around one million words in the English language. The
average number of words used by the average American is estimated at
10,000. The average number of words recognized by the average American
(George Will not included) is somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000.
There are about 20 vulgar words in the English language. We can
survive without them.
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© 2001, Lori Borgman
JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.
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