Saturday, November 27, 2010

What Comes Out Of The Mouth Tells Others About What May Be Inside The Head

It's an old discussion - bad words on the internet. Oh, those dirty-mouth bloggers!

Except this isn't part of that discussion.

I am a pretty accepting person, when it comes to word-choice. I don't faint, or climb up on my high-horse when I see a vulgarity. Considering my own, sailor-like vocabulary, this would not only be hypocritical, it is really meaningless. I try not to be overzealous in my use of colorful idioms, but well-placed and strategic, they can punch up otherwise stagnant prose.

Saying that, I noted recently, in the course of an exchange elsewhere, that one of my frequent and long-time right-wing commenters, Marshall Art, has an affinity for a term that I actually find quite offensive. It first cropped up, as best I recall, a few years back in a very lengthy discussion that included the provenance of my great-grandmother (conceived and born out of wedlock, fathered by a man married to another woman). Marshall told me that he taught his children to refrain from sex before marriage (nothing wrong with that) and that, should they choose to act otherwise, they were, and I quote, "scumbags" if they so chose.

He has used that word over and over again. I noted at the time that I found it kind of disgusting to refer to one's children as used condoms. He has continued to use that word, and when I tried, gently to be sure, to admonish him about it, he tried being sarcastic (but came across kind of stupid, in my opinion).

I am not offended by much. Bad words? Pshaw. I occasionally get vexed by our hypsersexualized popular culture, particularly on television, but that mostly came about after having children I would prefer not be exposed to locker-room humor at the age of five.

There are things I find far more offensive than scatological language. Wars fought to no purpose, based on lies. Torturing people, then insisting it isn't torture, but if it is, the sons-a-bitches deserved it. The casual insistence that the United States should use its nuclear arsenal under any conditions whatsoever against a non-nuclear-armed nation.

Finally, referring to other human beings as scumbags and (to be gender-neutral) douche-bags. I do not like it. It is one of the few things at which I take offense. It is dehumanization on steroids. It makes of human beings a waste product. Someone who casually refers to others in such a way apparently finds it easy to think of others not just as less than human, but as filthy things, worth only tossing in the garbage.

I dislike moral grandstanding, and I'm kind of embarrassed that I feel it necessary to say anything at all about this. Sometimes, though, it is important to draw lines.

Virtual Tin Cup

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