Profanity or Profundity?

Profanityby Anniel10/15/15
I have always been fascinated with the idea that our language abilities constrain our thought. Can we even know something if we have no words to describe the event or idea? If our vocabulary is not understood or is impoverished, are our thinking abilities limited?

So many individuals in America act like lower-class English speakers in the UK now, where every other word is vile and profane. Such profanity is no longer used to emphasize a point or even express anger. It just IS, part of the air society breathes.

My husband, Bear, reminded me of how long the profanity problem has existed and of some of the things we saw at our children’s high school. I often went lap swimming at the school on weekday mornings. The entryway to the pool building had four doors, each with three glass panes from top to bottom. One morning I went out to the entry to wait for my ride home when I noticed that all the bottom glass panes were gone and their area covered with heavy plywood. I was surprised because I hadn’t noticed the damage before

The doors were the kind where you push on a horizontal bar to unlatch and shove the door open. Five teenage boys came out of the gym adjoining the pool, and headed for separate doors. All of them were using loud, filthy language. Four of them managed to push through and open their doors, but the fifth didn’t even touch the latch, he just turned and hit the door with his butt to open it. When the door remained firmly latched, he began screaming, swearing at the door, then he turned and began kicking the door over and over as hard as he could, yelling at it to open. All he had to do was push the bar, but he seemingly couldn’t even figure that out. His friends outside watched him for a few minutes, then finally one opened the door from the outside. They left still swearing at the door.

I was too stunned to even understand what was going on. When I got home I told Bear about it. That evening our daughter told us that all the doors of that type, which were in use throughout the school hallways, were boarded up because the kids kicked and broke them. Most of the kids also used serial profanity, even in class, and cursed teachers to their faces.

That behavior was before a dumbed-down curricula, self-esteem, political correctness, and Common Core made matters worse.

There are linguistic ideas worth considering in our attempts to communicate ideas, and I do intend to think and write about them, but right now I have been struck by how profanity-laced English has become ubiquitous, and by what passes for profound thought in Social Media.

Someone no one has ever heard of can tweet, spelled out completely (which I will not do), “FU, Dr. Carson” along with a stupid selfie grinning at – what? His navel gazing brilliance or his supposed bravery? Then some news site publishes said tweet and photo as though we should be impressed, or shocked, or even care. Free speech has become about profanity, even in front of babes in arms, and the First Amendment is reduced to a moronic level.

I recall a few years ago when some writer said that The Huffington Post would never fire him because he was the most creative user of profanity in the business. I have no idea what became of him, but we appear to have a single word issue now, drop the F-Bomb and you’re a hero and defender of the Constitution.

What happens to the minds of those who think this way? Do they think in
crude sound bytes and become incapable of any deeper thought or introspection? Are great literature and philosophical ideas able to penetrate their stupor? Do they have room in their brains for truth or even value it?

We can read and write about the ideas in our minds, and even come up with our own sound bytes if necessary, but if no one else is reading and writing, or even thinking, what are our options? Reading and writing may not even be a possibility now for many of our children, miseducated as they are by our floundering Common Core schools.

I really do despair at the minds of so many going to waste.

P.S. I see on Drudge this morning that a New York Times writer tweeted a FU to Jeb. Such classy people. [Editor’s note: It wasn’t the Editor. Honest.] • (1206 views)

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21 Responses to Profanity or Profundity?

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Outstanding essay, Annie. Coherent. Relevant. Focused. Readable. Well done. And, no small point, you’re right! 🙂

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Herman Wouk, in his introduction to The Caine Mutiny, noted that profanity was extensively used in the military at all levels. He chose to use it only when it was really justified. Obviously, these students have adopted that type of language, though probably not from exposure to military types.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Refinement is uncool. Vulgarity is cool if only because to do the opposite — to show discriminating taste or reserve — is to be repressed. Only uncool, repressed people don’t let it all hang out.

      This is, of course, a license to be stupid, thoughtless, and vulgar…and to stay forever a juvenile which is the ultimate earthy goal of Progressives. “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Well, what happens if you grow older than that?

      We live in the facelift culture that does not value wisdom and experience and actively, err, shits on it. Also, because adults often have no higher aspiration than to be children, there is no adult influence on the actual children. They are left to run wild. Education policy is now centered on the idea that for adults to enact discipline is to somehow corrupt and ruin their natural good inclinations.

      So kids run wild. Back in my day, ONE damaged door would have been met by the principal calling an assembly of students until the culprit was found. Now the “adults” simply can’t be bothered to be adults. They’ve vacated that higher ground. So there is no one left to mind the store.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Refinement is uncool.

        Refinement takes effort. Learning takes effort. Any pursuit of excellence takes effort.

        Much of humanity is, by nature or choice, lazy. The Left knows this and plays to it. Convince the fools that they are learning something important when they are actually learning nothing useful, that they are special when they are really dull as dirt, and you will never be short of students or adherents.

        • Anniel says:

          Master KFZ, Effort, what the heck is that worth? Pursuing excellence, that’s not cool today. In some neighborhoods that might even get you beaten or killed.

          As I said, I do despair.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            There are boastful parents who put bumper stickers on their cars identifying their children as honor students (which unfortunately may not always mean what it should). There are also those who brag that their child beat up that honor student. That would be a bad thing if true — but it may be even worse to brag about it. Such parents are atrocious.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          First off, Mr. Kung, I like to choose my profanities with some care. 😀 The profundities just happen on their own when they happen. LOL.

          Annie notes something that I have long noted: The use of vulgar and foul language in public. It’s “shit” this and “f-word” that now in many places. I was in the supermarket last night and a couple of black people were liberally using the s-word. And, of course, that is by no means limited to blacks but I think blacks, in particular, have developed an anti-social attitude. To shit on polite culture is expected, for they’ve been taught that America is deserving of it.

          I like one thing that Ben Carson said. He said that if he gains the White House there will be heard a lot of classical music playing. Say what one will about Ben Carson, but he is no vulgarian. (And vulgarians come in various forms, sometimes the faux-refinement of a Jeb Bush.) Carson is a refined and honorable man.

      • Anniel says:

        Brad, I also remember when such an act of vandalism would be sternly punished, and what the principal didn’t take out of someone’s hide, the parents would. But the adults are now afraid to speak up.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Annie, we are the adult-substitute internet site. We will tell the little kiddies what they need to hear. And we will expose the forever-juveniles for who they are, wherever we find them. And we will strive for a certain amount of refinement without losing the common touch.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Annie, I believe the growing use of foul language is just a small manifestation of a much larger problem, i.e. the intentional dumbing down of the population which is the intent of the Left.

    We are going through something of a regression in that ever larger numbers of ignoramuses are being spewed out of the public education system. These types are seen as drones or serfs by the highly educated elite who are also regressing to an aristocracy. But their regression is very profitable and powerful.

    I have to agree with Patricia’s article and comment about the poor ability of most Americans as regards thinking. I suspect David is off in his estimation by a factor of ten, at least.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      So you see this as an aspect of the aphorism: When you’re weak on the law, argue the facts. When you’re weak on the facts, argue the law. When you’re weak on both, bullshit the jury. (I think the profanity is appropriate here.)

    • Anniel says:

      KFZ, I agree that profanity is only small part of the problem, but at the moment it is one of the most publicly evident language problems we have. I also agree with Patricia that we do not value critical thinking and I have written about it. But how do we approach the larger problems when we allow the small ones to fester? For want of a nail the battle gets lost.

      Unfortunately we have closed our eyes to the small things, decent speech, personal responsibility, good manners, all the things that make for a civilized society. The dumbing down process gets done one step at a time. One morning we wake up and Common core is the program everyone follows and our “betters” own our children’s minds. Many of the children will never learn to think, but they believe what they say is profound and no one tells them otherwise.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


        I don’t disagree with you at all. Our civilization has become like a vacant building. The little thugs come along everyday and throw a rock through a window and the window shatters. Let this happen long enough and what was once a valuable property will become a rotting hulk.

        Our institutions and those who run them have allowed the little vandals to break windows for years without any type of sanction. The little thugs have learned from this and have progressed to arson and worse. Therefore, I also believe it vital to stop barbarism of any type, great or small. Unfortunately, who will stand up and start? The public schools have failed in this regard.

        • Anniel says:

          Who will stand up and start? That’s an excellent question.

          One thing I think is that evil works especially well on groups while goodness occurs one person at a time. Whole congregations of people can be spellbound by a charismatic preacher or speaker, while only a few will have the courage to question the dogma. Some of this must be done by educational institutions, so we MUST get Common Core out of the schools.

          Every person who values children and their minds is involved in this battle.

  4. SkepticalCynic SkepticalCynic says:

    I am one of only a few that are not on Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other websites. I spare myself at least that much idiocy. You should consider it as well, Anniel.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Facebook is one of the things that convinced me to do this site. I like being online and writing. But Facebook is more akin to the playing out of an addiction. It’s not a good vibe that comes from its use. Twitter is just more of the same. I don’t want to be a Twitwit.

    • Rosalys says:

      I got off FB a year and a half ago. I had become a pariah with my political opinions and had lost a couple of “friends” because of it. Pretty soon, no one would even comment. But it was a non political comment from me, which was personalized by a friend when she had no cause to, that finally made me throw up my hands and say, “That’s it! I’m outta here! I can’t take all this drama!”

      I seem to be better liked, nowadays. I guess I’m one of those creatures who are best admired from behind a curtain, and from a distance!

  5. Anniel says:

    I have never even been tempted by Facebook or Twitter, sometimes even the “news” sites leave me cold. I really don’t care to hear the inanities of even my own children’s lives. Glad to know I’m not alone in the world.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I avoid Facebook and Twitter, though I do spend a lot of time on news websites.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Facebook/Twitter is to social connections what Penthouse is to sex.

        There’s nothing wrong with social connections or sex. But either can be turned into a type of pornography. And then there is the Nazification of social discourse as one will often find now on Facebook. People have become intolerant regarding many subjects (global warming, Obama, homosexuality, Islam, economics, etc.).

        Facebook, like much of the rest of the culture, is becoming an expression of the mob. It’s the Vulgarians taking over. Why would one want to be part of that? So I’m not anymore.

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