Forgive me if the title of this entry offended you. I suspect it may have, because the sounds created by combining the letters C, U, and F are offensive. This is how our culture typically propagates offense to these syllabic concoctions:
Parent: Don’t say that!
Parent: Because it’s VERY bad.
Child: What does it mean?
Parent: It doesn’t matter what it means, if I ever hear you say it again I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap.
As the child grows up, he will learn what all the words mean. He later learns that while no topic is off limits (sex, vaginas, penises, fecal matter, urine, the glutens, condemnation, etc.), putting certain letters together to refer to those things is bad. During his teen years, he will intentionally salt his speech with bad words, because bad is cool.
What prompted all of this?
My facts on this subject are a little hazy, but here goes anyway. As I’m sure many of you heard, according to the PTC, a court has decided to take away power from the FTC and allow the use of swear words in front of children. Filtering out the spin, what really happened is that the court said that in the case of live television (awards shows, etc.), broadcast networks can’t be fined for the unscripted actions of people not on it’s payroll. People are up in arms because it might give children the impression that swearing is OK.
It was about this same time that Will Ferrel released his video The Landlord and psychologists everywhere mused that we shouldn’t take a chance at turning our kids into cussers.
Am I the only one who gleaned an additional lesson after my teen years were over: no one cares! I don’t swear myself, but basically for the same reasons I don’t swallow gum: I was told it is bad, I don’t have a habit of it, so I’ve decided not to start. Accept when addressing large groups, it seems that burger flippers, accountants, and CEOs all cuss. The only time people really take offense to swearing is when they are sworn at. Fxxx you hurts. My computer is Fxxxed up doesn’t. It’s as though there’s a game that everyone in the world is playing. The rules are 1) I’m going to come up with a short way of saying “I offend you.” 2) When I utter that word, you respond with genuine offense.
So aren’t intentions and ideas the things that really offend us? Then why does “I’m going to kill my mother, and then go have unprotected sex and share IV drugs with a prostitute” get by, but an unexpected “Thanks for a Fxxxing great night” should be cause for a fine? Because then you get into a conversation of freedom of speech, etc. So apparently, a significant number of parents think that we should fine people for behaviors that are easy to identify and go after, instead of going after content that really matters.
Here’s my solution: There is already a TV rating system in place. People who are concerned about offensive material should buy one of many devices that allow you to block offensive content. Those who are concerned about the price of the device should play monopoly instead of watch TV. Also, there should be a new rating prefix: Live. In the same way that video games announce that the experience may change during online play (which means people will respond with shouts and swearing to both positive and negative game events), a live awards show might get TV-Live-G with a qualifying, “some viewers may find unscripted dialog and actions offensive.” Voila!