Earlier this month I was in the stands at the University of Arizona for a football game in which the Wildcats took on the Huskies from the University of Washington.
As the play of the Cats began to deteriorate in the second half, I began to hear a lot of F-bombs being thrown about among the fans. I would have reminded the people around me there were children in attendance, except the main culprits were parents who were with their kids.
Foul language seems to have become more and more acceptable in public the last few years, especially among younger people.
I remember listening to some of my daughter’s music a few years back in which the F-word was prevalent. I turned to my daughter and asked what happened to using metaphors in music.
Her response: “My generation believes in saying exactly what we mean.”
Oh well, so much for creative lyrics.
Now you hear foul language while in line at the movie theater or fast food restaurant, or even coming from the mouths of our leaders and wanna-be politicians.
Our president has been caught using profanity in speeches at rallies or while talking to the “enemy of the people” (press). He’s not the first president to have a potty mouth. Nixon and LBJ were notorious for their use of profanity. But at least they used it in private meetings (that just happened to be taped) rather than out in public.
But Trump isn’t the only politician to sink to the street level of using profanity to make a point. I saw a TV news profile on Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang in which he used the F-word regularly to fire up his followers. The network bleeped out the words, but it almost seemed like satire as the bleeps seemed to come every other word.
Foul language is even being marketed now.
This summer the Supreme Court struck down a longstanding U.S. ban on trademarks on “immoral” or “scandalous” words and symbols, ruling in a case involving a clothing brand with an indelicate name that the law violates constitutional free speech rights.
The court ruled in favor of Los Angeles streetwear designer Erik Brunetti, who had been turned down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when he sought to trademark his brand name that is an acronym for “Friends U Can’t Trust.”
I’ll refrain from shortening it.
“Today is a good day for Americans,” Brunetti’s lawyer John Sommer told Reuters. “The U.S. Supreme Court has taken the government out of the business of deciding questions of morality.”
In a way I support that decision, because it isn’t government’s responsibility to police language, it is ours. And the decay of our language is a social trend that is governed by our habits and acceptance.
The internet and social media has removed all the gatekeepers in society that used to be our conscience when it came to proper language. Now the “crowd” is the gatekeeper, sort of like mob rule.
And what is the mob doing to our language? Well, it is limiting it to 160 characters as in Twitter. So, as we constrict language, we lose the ability to think things out. Instead of a rational discussion about facts and figures, we now have emotional name-calling, which allows for modifiers to be mostly profanity.
It is a form of de-evolution.
Thousands of years ago our ancestors invented the written language by drawing pictures on cave walls.
Now we have emojis.
Pretty soon we will be communicating in grunts and groans again.
Leave it to Apple to come up with a text message for that.
And society won’t give an F-word.
Andy Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.