© 2019 Bill Murphy
I’ve always been told that profanity’s purpose is to express emphasis. The example is: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a tiddleywink,” did not place the desired emphasis on Rhett Butler’s parting line to Scarlett O’Hara. Therefore, tiddlywink was replaced.
My father taught by example more than lecture. However, I do remember the day when he discussed with me the topic of profanity. Something happened, and I blurted out the simple, lily-white expletive “DRAT!”
Dad had a lot to say about “drat.” He explained to me the concept that words are but representations of what we are attempting to portray. He went on to explain that although ‘drat’ was a perfectly acceptable Sunday School word, I was using it as a stand-in to portray some stronger word… such as the four-letter street word used as for human/animal excrement.
Then Dad went on to explain that it was not the word itself that was in question. It was the original thought or meaning behind the word. Drat was only a stand-in for what I wanted to use, yet feared to use.
I know, this was a 1940s lecture, spoken by a father to a son living way back in another time and age! Today we are… what do they say… enlightened. Sorry, I question that!
I suppose that the real question here is: Is there a line somewhere, in some place, at some point in time, where certain words are acceptable here and unacceptable there?
And if there is, WHO is the authority who has the ultimate right to draw this line in the sand?
Yes I know, everyone has a right to their opinion. That gives me a right to my opinion also. And my opinion is that: opinions are just… opinions.
I know also, that there are socially acceptable rights and wrongs… times and places, and around certain people, where the use of profanity might truly matter. This speech awareness is called common curtesy, being respectful and considerate of others. Basically it means not allowing your speech to be offensive to others. The old fashioned word was… conducting yourself in a mannerly way. Of course, not everyone gives a tiddleywink what other people think. But what I’m asking is: does it matter to the ONE who it should matter to most of all? Is profanity offensive to The Almighty? Would you freely use profanity in His presence?
I suppose that’s a personal question, which requires a personal answer.
I also suppose that we’ll just have to brace ourselves for what becomes acceptable in American society in the future.