The marvelous observational humor of George Carlin brightened our lives for many years. One of his most famous (and infamous) routines was Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television. Here it is, well, the best part, anyway, in case you were stranded on an island for decades.
Somehow, after Carlin performed this bit in Milwaukee, he was arrested. And there were other legal entanglements all the way to the Supreme Court in subsequent performances. Strange to me, very strange: could people just not watch? Just not buy tickets to his performances? Just change the channel or the station? Evidently not.
Some people seem to believe that certain words in our language have magical destructive powers. 'Bad words', which I believe means obscene words, offend some people. And certain people can't stop there - they've decided they know what's best for everyone. The point these language-offended miss is one that Carlin clearly explains when he says, “There are no bad words. Bad thoughts, Bad intentions,” suggesting that the problem lies in the minds and hearts of those who assume that quarantining certain uses of language will keep us from certain ideas and acts they fear—or in Carlin's own irreverent voice, that some words “will infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war….”
We all know that is, as Penn and Teller have repeatedly told us, Bullshit.
We are usually, mostly, careful around young people with our language. You aren't likely to hear teachers say anything like, What the hell is going on here? - even if that is what they're thinking. But what about books? Books with words like whore or badass? Enter a couple from Idaho who decided that there should be an app for that.
Word cleaning seems a ridiculous waste of energy and time, and a rather offensive one for many reasons. Any youngster who is made ill and distressed by profanity is probably not going to have the strength, guts, and ability to navigate the world with any kind of ease. Rather than word cleaning every piece of literature or trade book, wiping them squeaky clean (which is, after all, a rather subjective thing, too), wouldn't it make a bit more sense to equip youngsters with a greater understanding and awareness about language and life?
After all, words are only words. They really are not sticks or stones, and they do not have magic power. If it's highly disturbing to you or your child is sickened by words like badass, there's a larger problem lurking. Let's not change, edit, or malign the work of authors this way. Free speech, remember? (The concern, interestingly enough, was not over racist or hateful or bullying language.) I won't even begin with authors' copyrights being violated this way.
Censorship is for the fearful and intellectually challenged. It's why I won't watch programs on Hallmark Channel. Their censorship of small profanities on shows like The Middle is disturbing, disrupting and stupid. Seriously, do I need Hallmark to censor words like 'boob' and 'hell' ? I think not.
Read more about the app that I refuse to name, and some of the ensuing controversy here.
If you agree with the censors who've deemed themselves the moral police, then fuck you. Go away and never come back.
But the rest of y'all, let's watch this Chevy Chase classic moment with delight and joy!