Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Note on Profanity

On a little more serious note, I wanted to jot down some of my feelings on profanity. I don't know why this struck me as being pertinent today but it did, so I am going to give it a whirl.

As a young boy, I guess I was probably nine or ten-years-old, I had what I can only call an obsessive-compulsive desire to swear. I didn't want to use profane language (I was quite prudish to be honest), but for some reason I would just swear. Yeah, the biggies. I wouldn't really use them in a sentence or anything. I would just say them over and over again and each time I would say them I would feel guilty, but I couldn't stop. It became a real concern for me and I would pray to have the strength to quit swearing, but nothing worked. One day I read a quote made by Spencer W. Kimball that changed my perspective on swearing and cured me forever. He said, "Profanity is the weak effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcibly". I did not have a feeble mind and so I would not swear. It was that easy.

I have thought about that quote on numerous occasions and found it to be rather enlightening. It takes absolutely no thought to swear and swearing is not particularly creative in any way. I mean, think about it, there are probably only five or six cuss words that are used with any frequency and yet many people insist on using them over and over. What if we could only use six words when describing the colors we see, or the textures we feel? I mean, if we are going to berate someone with language, we ought to be more creative.

I was listening to an actor discuss with Jay Leno the role he played in a cable television series. He played a rough guy and apparently he swore a lot as his character. Jay, of course, laughed and thought the role was unique and creatively portrayed. Say what, Jay? They couldn't even show a clip of his show because they couldn't find a scene that would get by the network sensors. I am sorry, but a guy spouting profanity for an hour doesn't seem all that interesting. This leads me to my last observation.

I remember the Robin Williams-Robert DeNiro flick, Awakenings, recieved a PG-13 rating. After watching the first hour of the film, I wondered why. There was nothing objectionable and the film was uplifting and inspiring and, then, I heard the big bomb. Yep, the king of all cuss words just leaped off the screen. Then, nothing. No, no more cussing. You mean to tell me they wrote the big bomb into the movie just to get a "more serious" rating. Yeah. Probably. I just think its sad.

I have cussed on occasion since those days of compulsion and obsession, yet afterwords I have been disappointed that I didn't use a better adjective or a more creative noun. Just a thought.


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