This weekend, as I was in my backyard, I heard the young adults on the property just below where I live having a party. It made me smile to hear the friendly banter among them. They were teasing each other but respectfully and caringly.
Later, when I was in my front yard, a couple of young men were walking by. Judging from the tone of their voices, they were friends having a friendly conversation. One of the young men, however, used the “F” word over and over again in his sentences. He used it as an adjective, an adverb, a noun, a verb, an expletive and to keep an even rhythm to his sentences.
I know I’m pretty old, but I can clearly remember a time when it was unacceptable to use that word in polite conversation. It was something that very, very bad people might write on a wall. I can’t remember ever hearing it in public when I was younger.
When did it become OK to use it while you’re shopping for groceries — to use it when you’re balancing your baby on your hip — to use it when you’re talking to your parents?
The really unfortunate thing about the popularity of the word is that many people who use it have become dependent on it and don’t know a whole lot of other words.
As I was pondering this question, it occurred to me that this trend can actually be of benefit to all of us.
There has got to be a law against this somewhere on the books. I know I’ve read about people being arrested for using profanity in public.
On the other hand, our municipalities and schools have been making drastic cutbacks in an effort to continue to provide services in an economically challenging time.
So here comes my idea — Why don’t we start enforcing the anti-profanity laws? Since police officers will be enforcing the laws, the money they bring in in fines can be used for their salaries. If we just fined a quarter per “F” word in the Wal-Mart parking lot, we could probably fund twice as many officers and maybe even support a branch of the FBI.
In addition to fines, offenders could be ordered to take vocabulary lessons. They could pay for the lessons and it would be a great way to fund the schools.
The offenders wouldn’t have to change overnight — the teachers could ease them into it. Since the “F” word is originally a vulgar term for intimacy, the teachers could teach them to substitute that word for the “F” word. A sentence might come out something like this; “My intimate truck had an intimate flat tire on the intimate highway. Then an intimate cop came along and intimately gave me an intimate ticket — The stupid intimater.”
Eventually, the offenders can learn new words like, blue for the truck and stinkin’ for the flat tire and big, ugly for the cop (sorry cops, but this guy’s really mad).
The English language is very rich. There are so many choices. With a little luck, maybe some of these people can learn to express themselves in real words instead of “Fs” and grunts.
Wouldn’t it be nice to truly communicate with each other?