Watching television recently, I couldn’t help but notice how much time has changed the language that we now find acceptable in our standard programming. Whether it was in the fifties or sixties, I clearly remember there being a huge outcry about a television program that included the words “hell” or “damn” in their scripts. It was felt by many, many people that these words were unacceptable.
Now I hear words on television network programs that would have shocked these folks out of their underwear (can we appropriately say underwear?). Without articulating all of the words I hear, they include the b word, the p word, the s-o-b expression, and everything in between.
Before you think about calling me a prude or a stuffed shirt, I have been known to use a variety of bad words in my life although rarely, if ever, in front of children. My mother died when I was fourteen but as hard as I try, I can never remember her using one obscenity. In those cases, where she might have been angry or frustrated, she chose the words “shingles” or “shavings” in lieu of a word that she found unladylike.
Likewise, I don’t remember hearing my dad use obscenity except for one f-bomb when he was having trouble tying a tie. My best guess is that it was thought to be unseemly or inappropriate for children to hear adults use bad words. And so, he was usually faithful to that philosophy.
It’s easy to reach conclusions, correct or incorrect, about what the inclusion of bad words in our lives suggests about the society as a whole. Yes, we appear to be more liberal. Television has succumbed to the habits of the world that it represents. We have become more inclusive in terms of the language that we find suitable. Or maybe the watchers of television just don’t have the standards in terms of the morality of language that they used to have.
At this point, I am beginning to miss a more stringent set of rules with regard to the words we use. Our language has so many wonderful words that sound better and function just as well. My only option now is to lead by example, darn it. Shalom.