Friday, February 24, 2006

Easy on the swears

This kid got suspended from school for the second time for swearing. In an attempt to teach him a lesson his guardians made him stand on a busy street corner holding a sign explaining that the had been suspended from school for cursing. He stood out for two hours in the morning and two in the evening. While this may seem extreme to some (the homeschooling set for sure), I think it's a great way to teach a young man about how to be through shame and embarassment.,1299,DRMN_15_4476836,00.html

See it used to be that swearing made others scorn you. Swearing is now so prevalent in our society that people swear in almost any situation. The other night I took my class to the Cafe du Monde and I heard 5 f-bombs in their normal conversation.

I used to swear heavily. I have toned it down some since I got married, and even more so now that I am a parent. I swore because I worked in the fast food industry for 10 years and everyone around me swore. I swore because I chose to. My parents never made me stand on a street corner, but I have embarassed myself because of swearing on numerous occasions. My grandma chewed-me-a-new-one about 10 years ago because I said I was "pissed" in her presence. Nothing worse than your grandma chewing you out and knowing that she is right.

Vulgarity is indeed a crutch for the inarticulate. Coarse language does have its place sometimes. When I was a single and oh-so-sexually-frustrated young man I found that a good f-bomb among Mormons was a great way to make your point.

Now those who know me well will think me a hypocrite for saying that swearing should be avoided. My friend Tim Boisvert, A Great American, rightly blames me for influencing him to swear when we were roommates. I still swear on occasion, but I know it's wrong and am willing to pay the consequences for swearing. I do not attempt to explain it away.

Shame and embarrasment are great teaching tools. This kid hopefully learned his lesson.

What's sad is when good parenting makes the news. It should be the norm.

1 comment:

Karie said...


My mom has told her children time and again that she never used a single curse word in her life until she had sons. I have tried to think of a time that I heard a swear word come out of my father's mouth - either in anger or jest - and I have not been able to come up with one single instance. When we were younger, Dad really hated it when we used the word "suck." He told us to think about why we were using crude words (not always curse words) to try and get our point across. Now, my dad is not an argumentative man by nature - I get a lot of my personality from him - but I think he would strongly disagree with your idea that swearing is sometimes called for, especially when using the word that you so fondly refer to as the "f-bomb."

I specifically remember a conversation that we had when I was in the 8th grade about crude and coarse language. Believe me, after being a teacher in the public school system for umpteen years, Dad knew about poor language. We talked about how the substitutions that the Mormons tend to use - you know the ones I'm talking about: freakin' A, fetch, flip, snot, crap, etc. - really were that just substitutions. One set of inane words switched for another set.

Dad encouraged us to be creative when we felt like swearing. I don't mean vulgar, I mean creative. One of my favorites was "turkeyherder." I still pull it out from time to time. I think his reasoning behind this was that we would have to take some time to think about creative phrases rather than just spewing forth the same junk that we heard repeated around us every day. Also, if we took the time to think about something to say, we would avoid quick retaliations and other contentious situations. My dad is a pretty smart man.

Don't misunderstand...I am far from perfect or very creative with my own choice of words. I will say that the lessons Dad taught have stuck with me, and I never swear in anger or retalitation - though I did let a "damn" slip out during a particularly frustrating game of Trivial Pursuit a couple of years ago.

Actually, I have found that any more I am becoming more and more like my mother. It seems that the only time I let loose a curse or coarse word is after spending time with my brothers.