I’ve never been one to use “bad” language. The closest I came was in high school. At the time I didn’t have much of a problem with quoting a song or a movie. I don’t remember which word it was, but one day I said something (again, quoting something), and all of my friends were stunned that I had said it. That was a real wake-up call for me. People really do watch what you do, and if you are going to live a principle, you need to live it all the time.
That happened 15-20 years ago, but I still remember it well. Now that I spend much of my time at work, I have to walk a fine line between letting people be who they are, but also being myself. I don’t like swearing. I don’t like to hear it. Depending on who it is, if I hear someone at work swear, I might gasp playfully or even tell them they have a “potty-mouth” (only for those who I am quite friendly with). As far as I know, no one has ever been offended that I don’t appreciate their swearing, and almost everyone now is careful when they are around me. I think they respect me for my beliefs.
The reason why I am posting about this is because this week I’ve heard or seen several things which are related to this.
The first thing was a report on NPR’s All Things Considered called ‘No Cussing’ Founder: Mind Your Dang Language. It’s about a 15-year-old young man who is trying to discourage people from swearing. You can read all about it on the NPR site. One of the stunning things, is that his campaign has actually brought threats and other hateful pranks. Come on, people! Why would you threaten someone because they don’t want to swear and they don’t want others to swear?!
The next thing was watching the movie Swing Vote. This is a movie starring Kevin Costner where because of some circumstances, he is to cast the vote to decide the next President of the United States. At one point in the movie, his daughter Molly (played by Madeline Carroll), is bothered by the fact he keeps saying “Jesus”, or “Jesus Christ” to swear. She tells him he’d better stop using Jesus as a cuss-word because Jesus was “1 billion people’s Saviour, you know”. Just the way she said it and the way he reacted was kind of cute/funny. Incidentally, I’m often torn with movies. Swing Vote was rated PG in Canada, and overall I thought it was a pretty decent movie. However, there was some casual swearing, which almost made me turn it off. I understand that the type of character that Kevin Costner was playing would have almost definitely been someone who swore in real life (if he were a real person), but it still makes me uncomfortable. My wife commented that there was more swearing than she expected from a PG movie.
Lastly, I also recently watched the terrible 1998 movie Lost in Space. At one point the young Will Robinson swears, and Dr. Smith (played by Gary Oldman), tells him that swearing is only for the weak minded (or something like that). I generally agree with that.
I know some people say that swearing is just a word. It’s no different than saying fudge, flip, shoot, etc. They may be right. I think those words are dumb replacements (although I am not offended by them). I just think that we should all speak a little better. I like what it says in For the Strength of Youth:
How you speak says much about who you are. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind. Use language that uplifts, encourages, and compliments others.
“Language,” For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God, 22
True to the Faith says this:
Foul language harms your spirit and degrades you. Do not let others influence you to use foul language.
“Profanity,” True to the Faith, (2004),128–29
Lastly, President Hinckley once said this:
Conversations I have had with school principals and students lead me to the same conclusion—that even among our young people, there is an evil and growing habit of profanity and the use of foul and filthy language.
I do not hesitate to say that it is wrong, seriously wrong, for any young man ordained to the priesthood of God to be guilty of such…
Brethren, stay out of the gutter in your conversation. Foul talk defiles the man who speaks it….
Don’t swear. Don’t profane. Avoid so-called dirty jokes. Stay away from conversation that is sprinkled with foul and filthy words. You will be happier if you do so, and your example will give strength to others.
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Take Not the Name of God in Vain,” Ensign, Nov 1987, 44