Last week, I wrote about my abounding love for comic books. I’ve been passing along that enjoyment to my children, and Anton has really taken to them. We sit and read new comics all the time; he enjoys Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and anything Avengers. Anton, at age eight, is certainly old enough that he can handle reading them on his own, but there’s something cool about sitting and reading them and then talking about the stories after we’re done.
One thing we don’t talk about is how Dad changes some of the words. He’s often so busy looking at pictures that he doesn’t see I change a word to heck or darn instead of what is printed. Unfortunately, this is taking away somewhat from this otherwise enjoyable pastime.
Have you noticed this trend toward more profanity everywhere? There was a time when you could sit down as a family between 7-9 p.m. and not worry too much about what your children might hear. Now it’s commonplace to hear words that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap had the nuns at school heard me use them! In reality, there are very few words that you won’t hear at some time on television; only one comes to mind that I haven’t heard on cable, and that’s the one that can be used in some form as every one of the seven parts of speech.
I enjoyed a new show this summer on FX called The Bridge. It was an addictive mystery series that involved characters that lived across the border from each other in Texas and Mexico. I heard a lot on that show, including learning the Spanish versions of many swear words.
Is this reality now? Do so many people make profanity such a regular part of their vocabulary that it’s hardly noticeable? I saw an X-Men movie in the theater, and it seemed like hardly anyone blinked when the f-bomb was dropped during a PG-13 film. I still sit up and take notice when I hear so many of those words being broadcast in some form.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some holier-than-thou preacher. I’ve been known to utter some profanities, mostly in anger. When I was a teenager, I know my mother would have blushed to hear me with my friends sometimes.
Maybe it’s my background in language and vocabulary, but it always seems like swearing is a shortcut instead of an idea that is well thought out. Much like many people, especially teenage girls, tend to insert the word “like” between every other word, others do the same thing with profanity. It seems the easy way out; maybe the person thinks they sound cool.
I don’t take offense when adults swear around me; it’s their choice. I just find it a bit unnerving that it has seeped so deeply into our society that I find kids in school who don’t think it’s wrong to say “hell” or “damn” as a regular part of their speaking. In fact, as I type this, I’m thinking that when I was growing up, I never would have seen those words I put in quotation marks in print in a newspaper! But there they are.
When students tell me something “sucks,” I’ll suggest they find a better way to phrase that, some way that sounds more educated. Maybe we can make an effort to do that with harsher words. It seems so many kids hear the adults around them swearing a blue streak that they don’t realize how much trouble it can get them in during certain social situations. It might not impress that date, it might not sound good in a job interview, and it might be said without realizing there is someone behind you that you’d rather not have hear you speaking that way.
There will come a time when Anton will call me out on what I’m reading. We’ll talk about it and speculate on why He-Man might say that, but I’ll hope to not set the example of sounding that way around my kids.
Word of the Week: This week’s word is lapsus linguae, which means a slip of the tongue, as in, “The teacher had a lapsus linguae when he meant to talk about a pirate ship, which turned his face quite red.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!