Some recent comments from the always vulgar Kathy Griffin as well as the declining language I have seen in Facebook posts from my friends have made it clear a little education is badly needed about polite conversation.
Descriptive words like “vulgar,” “common” and “low-class” have fallen out of favor in these PC times while crude language has risen in popularity. However, some actions and words are simply vulgar and are not appropriate or acceptable in public settings..
During my lifetime, I have watched the English language of entertainers as well as my friends, neighbors and their children deteriorate and “dumb down” to the puerile, potty-mouth level of the boys’ locker room. Sitcoms like “Rosanne” and other TV programs that followed have made the lowest common denominators of speech household words.
There are some activities best done in private, including but not limited to most bodily functions that involve a toilet. It follows that words associated with excrement, urination, sex and private body parts are not appropriate for polite conversation, no matter how much people like Roseanne Barr, Kathy Griffin and other comedian wannabees bandy them about as they rely on shock value rather than talent to get them attention and laughs. This is not to say conversations about the human body are off limits, but there is a big difference in a health discussion about breast cancer or a urinary tract infection and just gratuitously throwing variations of words like “breast” and “urine” into conversation as expletives.
Some people I admire use bad language and post Facebook comments with words I not only find somewhat offensive, but that cause my respect to drop an iota or two because they couldn’t be bothered to exercise their brains to find a more appropriate term or phrase to convey their meaning.
A big galoot I once dated told me “Everyone thinks these words,” and he indicated I must be a hypocrite for allegedly “thinking” bad words but not speaking them. With all his great intellect, he couldn’t seem to grasp the simple fact that while I also know Spanish, I don’t actively think Spanish words. I may know bad words from TV, movies, and my peers, but I don’t have a litany of bad language running through my head. Bad language is a choice which becomes a habit, and I have chosen not to think it or speak it, certainly not in polite conversation.
Christians often equate using bad language with their “freedom in Christ.” Er, ah, right…. but just because doing a thing won’t send you straight to hell does not mean you should indulge in it. This is not an article about salvation — it is an article about being polite and respecting those around you with your language choices.
If you are not sure what “polite conversation” is, here are some clues. If you are getting bawdy with your closest friends or in a locker room getting raucous with the guys, that is probably not polite conversation. What you say in private is pretty much your own business.
However, if you are in public setting, or posting publicly on a social network, or talking socially to friends and acquaintances in situations where you would not feel comfortable being seen picking your nose in your underwear, those are situations where parents used to teach their children to use polite language. If you are so desensitized you would feel comfortable wearing your underwear in public while picking your nose and cussing, you need to immediately place yourself in the care of a good mental health care facility. Not.Appropriate.Behavior.
There is hope today’s generation will turn to polite conversation and good manners again. Evidence points to the fact that some of the popularity of Edward Cullen as a hero in the Twilight sagas was his “old-fashioned” manners. Polite actions and speech are attractive traits.
Can we not as a culture return to classier and more intelligent modes of conversation than inserting potty talk and curse words into our daily posts and conversations? Just one woman’s thoughts about the sad decline of American language and culture.
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