Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

For swearing

A baby fell out of the window,
You'd think that her head would be split,
But good luck was with her that morning,
She fell in a barrel of...

...Shhhhhaving cream, be nice and clean
Shave every day and you'll always look keen!
- Benny Bell, "Shaving Cream"

With the tragic and frightening all but dominating the news right now, I was glad that Soccer Dad called my attention to the amusing gaffe by President Bush earlier this week (since overshadowed by his more prominent - or at least more widely cyber-shared - breach of propriety). Unaware that he was speaking into an open microphone, Bush made a casual comment to British PM Blair which included the infamous "s-curse" expletive. Well, at least Bush's comment was accurate, albeit vulgar.

Of course, those who seek any opportunity to bash the President are using this to "prove" he's a hypocrite for claiming to be a deeply religious man, and yet using - gasp! - profanity. As if even the most sincerely religious people are perfect all of the time and never slip! But even beyond that obvious point, one needs to look at this from a relative standpoint. With all the genuine evil currently opposing the civilized world - evil that no longer makes even the feeblest attempt to hide itself - is it really worth getting worked up over a salty word here and there?

I'm not saying that foul language is the pleasantest thing in the world, or a behavior to be admired. But there are certainly a lot higher-priority issues and vices to focus our attention on. Even in the domain of improper speech, I'd rather concentrate my limited self-improvement faculties on lessening my use of hurtful barbs, avoiding the cheap thrills of lashon hara, and controlling my tendency to yell at my kids at the drop of a yarmulka.

I admit to using the occasional unclean word, especially when startled or when subject to a sudden, sharp pain. I do try - generally, thought not invariably, successfully - to avoid using profanity in everyday conversation. I have no desire to go around sounding like Tony Soprano. Yet I do think that curse words, like all others, have their places. In high school, we used to gleefully quote the gemara that stated "one must avoid bad language at all times, except that one may tell an idol worshiper 'take your idols and shove them up your a--' "! (Yes, this is a real gemara - though I can't find the source right now! Anyone out there know?)

In a less lofty realm, it's hard to dispute that profanity at least has its place in the entertainment world. Though I think today's comedy writers have mostly lost the knack for subtly - the insight that we can laugh more at what isn't said out loud than at what is. The lyrics I quoted above - surely the greatest camp song of all time - are a perfect example.

On the other hand, there are gags that just can't be told without actual use of the infamous "seven words" [follow link at your own risk!]. One of my all-time favorite jokes is this one - though its punch line absolutely depends on the explicit use of the very worst vulgarity of the bunch. But I'm sorry, it's just hilarious!

It's not that I'm for swearing. But I'm not ready to forswear all swearing either. Typically for me, I guess I'm in the middle ground on this one. As they say, SS, DD!


At 7/21/06, 3:59 PM, Blogger torontopearl said...

Shame on you, Elie...NOT! I love that Mickey/Minnie joke you led us to. Now I've got to share it with the world!

At 7/21/06, 5:57 PM, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Sorry I haven't been here for a while now, good to make jokes in these times we have to keep our sanity or insanity for those of us who are already insane lol.

At 7/23/06, 11:50 PM, Anonymous Ozzie said...

I am a barbarian, swearing is second nature.


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