Friday, September 21, 2007

What the.....?! #$*&!!

Okay, now I'm mad.

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time in the blogging world. I enjoy wandering around visiting people. If I find someone that strikes a spark with me, I bookmark their blog so I can return to it and see what else they have to say.

But there are so many people blogging, and I have only so much time, so I can't let my list get too long. Even with constant weeding, I have upwards of seventy blogs I read! That's at least ten every single day, and what with catching up on everything they've written, and following links from their pages to other interesting pages, and following links from THOSE PAGES..... well, that makes a considerable time investment.

So I have set some guidelines; a sort of rule-of-thumb, for blogs I bookmark.

1) Is the blogger interesting?
2) Does he or she have a way with words?
3) Are they nice?
4) Are they able to communicate without overuse of foul language?

I follow those almost unconsciously, and pretty much in that order.

It's strange, but many of the interesting blogs seem to be written by people who have no descriptive words at their disposal other than f***, or s***, or c***, or a**, all sorts of other words that thirty years ago were considered "bad" words. "Nice" people didn't talk like that.

Now, I realize times have changed. Language is always pushing the envelope, and bad words slowly get absorbed into the mainstream, and then we have to find new, shocking, offensive words to express our distaste for something. One example is the word "screw." When I was a teenager, that was as bad of a word as the f-word. And now everyone I know uses it, including my pastor, as in "Boy, I sure screwed that up." Another word I absolutely hate is "suck." That was another terrible word that showed up on bathroom stalls. It was the ultimate insult to tell someone they "sucked." But now my teenage boys use it all the time to say things like, "This amp sucks; we need a better one."

That being said, I still dislike reading too much bad language. I can handle, even though I don't especially like it, an occasional foul word used appropriately, for emphasis. After all, sometimes a person has to say SOMETHING. On the other hand, I know what f*** means, and I don't appreciate having that image conjured up for me in every sentence I read. It's like force-feeding me pornography. I also know what s*** and c*** is, and I get really tired of having my nose rubbed in it every other word. Maybe I have too good of an imagination, but the world gets really ugly when you constantly have porn and poo flashed in your face.

Okay. So. Why am I mad? Yesterday I'm reading blogs. Some interesting, some not interesting. Some clean, some not clean. I run across a guy's blog. He's interesting, he's funny, he enjoys being a dad; I enjoy reading his stuff. He uses the f-word a LOT, but I decide I can put up with that because I'm enjoying what he has to say. He seems nice. I continue on, reading post after post, and then, it happens. He writes a series of "memos to the world at large." Here's the memo that bothered me:

Occasionally I have heard mention of my site as being inappropriate due to my casual use of profanity. Several readers have even e-mailed me and accused me of contributing to the coarsening of the English language. To those critics, I would respond that my discourse merely exemplifies the vaunted precedent of valorizing the oral vernacular. I would further add that language is a living tissue, which must occasionally suffer the rupture of subversion in order to convalesce with more structural stability. So to those prurient guardians of the linguistic gates who are offended by my occasional use of the F-bomb? Well, you know what you can do with yourselves.

Well, as a matter of fact I do know.

I was doing my best to overlook something that was offensive to me, for the sake of the man and what he had to say. It's his blog, and he can cuss if he wants to....

However, beside the fact that his use of big words does not really say anything-- "oral vernacular" is not the point-- now I know what he thinks of people like me: I'm a "prurient guardian of the linguistic gates" who is "offended" by his "occasional use of the F-bomb"! And "you know what you can do with yourselves"! (By the way, I think he needs to re-read the definition of "occasional"....)

Yes, I know exactly what I can do-- delete you from my list.

Too bad. He seemed nice; just don't cross him.

Sadly, he's not alone. There are many others like that. They are nice until disagreed with and then-- HooBoy! You'd better duck. Fast.

And that's what makes me mad. I know they don't mean ME, personally. After all, they don't even know me, right? But if they did know me, they'd find out quickly which of their pigeon holes I fit into, and then they WOULD insult me personally.

And what makes me madder: If my friend of the "f-bomb" would read this, he would probably flame me, and somehow this would be all my fault for being offended and insulted. After all, that's just the way the world is, and the way he is, so GET USED TO IT! Well, I'm trying. But you're not making it any easier.

And what makes me even madder is that it's considered good to be bad, and bad to be good. The more foul your language and the more crass your conversation, the better you are: You're up-to-date, tolerant, realistic, and politically correct. However, if you dislike foul language and try to focus on positive things, you're a namby-pamby, prude who is hopelessly out of touch. *scream!* *tear hair!*

And another thing!-- no one apologizes for bad language any more. It's up to each of us to "get over it." (On second thought, someone did apologize to me, sort of, not too long ago. After unleashing a long string of obscenities, he said, "Pardon my french," to which I replied, "I'm sorry, we don't speak french here.")

I try not to show my age or my prudish-ness and I try to give people grace. However, it's a big world, and there are lots of people in it, and I reserve the right to delete from my list the blogs of foul-mouthed, offensive people-- no matter how interesting-- and keep looking till I find nice, interesting, clean-mouthed people who write well, and don't insult me.

There. I'm still mad, but I'll get over it.


Qtpies7 said...

I don't like the foul language either. And I purposely do not link to people who use it frequently, as in almost every post or more. I may read them occasionally, but I will not spread the link around. I also try not to read it often because "garbage in, garbage out" I don't want it in my thoughts. I so rarely hear it that when I do it screams and echos in my head over and over.

mom huebert said...


Swistle said...

My poor mom winces every time I say "screwed" or "that sucks!" but just this last week she said she thought she was finally getting used to them as slang as opposed to "bad words"--since they're now USED as slang, not bad words. Like, the f-word is still the f-word and is still used as a bad word, but "screwed" is much much milder and is--as you've noticed--often NOT used as a bad word. I try not to say them in front of her, though!

That guy you quoted--what a prize. He thinks that using bigger words than he needs means his use of bad words is intellectual.

Marti said...

This blog entry inspired me to make sure to leave my 911 prayer request in civil terms. Maintaining the propriety of language is a work-in-progress area for me during emotional moments.

Any discussion of conduct can display a wide range of parameters as you ask various people what they do or do not find acceptable. The general standard for what passes as appropriate language seems to have declined over the years, to be sure.

Another thing that has tragically declined is the use of not only civil words but civil attitude. The tendency to question the intelligence of anyone who disagrees with a stated position has seemed to me to grow more and more prominent, as has the tendency to romanticize deconstructionist "progress". Truly smart people don't do anything that people did 50 years ago, nor do they contradict popular practice (whatever that may be interpreted to be). This violates the argument for examining history to avoid repeating mistakes, and the general idea of independent thought (as all the while independent thought is defended in name only). "Guiding right"--matching your step to the person next to you on the assumption that they know what they're doing--better serves marching bands than it does those who are trying to manage their own inner moral witness within their society.

mom huebert said...

swistle-- Yeah, I still wince when my boys say "sucks," and will probably never use that word myself. But I do occasionally used "screwed," even though I mentally wince at myself. It so well communicates "messing it up REALLY bad."

marti-- Amen about the decline of the civil attitude. GuitarGeek runs into that all the time on forums.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Here here! Very well said. To all those that write with constant cussing I say write your blog the way you want, but before you hit the publish button just go through and try to cahnge the bad words to something funnier. I can promise you that no one will write you asking you to cuss more and no one will leave your site thinking, "Gee, his blog is so funny, I just wish he would try to use more four letter words so that I could suggest his site to my frineds and family..."

Marti said...

Guitar Geek and I visit some of the same forums, and run into the same thing on the ones that we don't mutually visit. The anonymity of the Internet seems to cast off restraint in some sad way.

As to the board that Mr. GG and I moderate, we had discussed using a substitutionary language filter at one time. That can be pretty entertaining. When the activity level went down, it hardly seemed necessary, though. It may be about to experience a resurgence of participation, but I don't think that the single moms involved are going to present an overly large four-letter-word problem. You never know, I guess--they might.

Sniz said...

Very WELL SAID! I especially like the comment "it's good to be bad and bad to be good". What a true and well-put statement! That's exactly what's happening in our world and it's not just about foul language. it's about everything...being subversive according to 30 year old standards is considered "politically correct" in every area. Homosexuality, abortion, respect for authority (pastors, parents, teachers, our president, our country, etc). It make me SICK to see people protesting the war holding upside down flags, people critisizing anything and everything they feel like because it's become the norm to be your own authority. It's "cool" to make your own morality, to not let anyone else's (even history's) thoughts or ideas influence yours. If YOU think it's OK to kill babies, then it's right. If YOU think it's OK to use foul language in front of kids, then it's right. And no one better tell you otherwise or look out. OK, I could go on and on, but it's your rant, right? I thought you did a great job of being balanced in your rant, BTW. It wasn't really a rant, just a true observation.

Linda said...

I second your deletion. To me, it shows a lack of vocab/intelligence to rely on expletives.

mom huebert said...

my ice cream diary-- that's a funny idea. GuitarGeek tried that for a while on a forum he moderated: the software was set to substitute the word "bubbles" for any of a list of unacceptable words. It was terribly funny reading a story someone posted where a character kept saying things like "Oh, bubbles!"

sniz-- thank you for ranting on my blog! (especially since you were agreeing with me! *smile*)