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What Did You Say?

It’s OK. You can call me a fuddy-duddy. I’m not offended. What I am offended by is what I have to put up with — and you do, too — on a nearly daily basis.

I was in dollar store the other day when I noticed the young man in front of me, dressed in a tie-dyed shirt. And when he turned around I saw that the front of his shirt displayed the obscene word in large letters that we old folks refer to as the “F” word.

Let’s get this straight. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this and I am as guilty as others as having muttered it at times, but never, ever would I wear it on my clothing or say it in polite company. There was a young mother with a school-aged child also in line. I was just hoping the boy was too young to read.

I don’t know when it became acceptable for any type of obscene language to be worn in public. We’ve gone way beyond freedom of speech with our choice of words. It’s a disturbing trend that follows the uptick in lack of respect for authority, especially law enforcement. Everywhere in public I have heard some unbelievable combinations of filthy language. And it’s as bad with females as it is with males.

Dictionaries describe profane as “grossly offensive” language that is considered a public nuisance, most often sexual in nature. But don’t look for arrests over it. The U.S. Supreme Court has failed to provide a clear definition of obscene language, thus leaving its use open to interpretation.

Remember Ralphie in the popular holiday movie “The Christmas Story?” He dropped the “F” word while helping his father change a tire. It didn’t bode well for Ralphie who ended up with soap in his mouth. That may have been a bit drastic and perhaps unpopular today, but I’m sure it made an impression on the young boy.

Sadly, Ralphie recalled hearing his father use the word quite often. And that’s where some of this loose use of words comes from today. I think, too, it’s more from certain genres of music, video games and Hollywood’s not-so-elite.

Sometimes it makes me cringe when I hear it. I have even asked some folks to tone it down in public. I would not hesitate to do that with my grandkids around. As Ralphie did, kids learn by example. You never heard Superman or Batman or the Ninja Turtles say those things. Tell your kids that.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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