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Dirty Words

I heard a politician swear on a radio news story.

I�m sick of it.

I�m not even referring to our president�s epithet heard �round the world a couple months ago. This came from an elected official in Kentucky.

Offensive, lazy language has become too commonplace in media aimed at the general public and from leaders who ought to represent something nobler than our nastiest nature. The everyday use of crudities invades and degrades our lives, and brutalizes our public policy.

We ought to start reacting.

This rant does NOT condemn free expression. I watch my share of R-rated movies. When I buy songs off the Internet, I�ll often choose the �explicit� rather than �clean� version because I prefer to hear the recording as the artist originally intended.

But those are my choices as an adult. They�re optional frills that require me to make an extra effort and to pay money. Not so with major broadcast programs or the comments of prominent officials.

Any member of any family ought to have the right to watch a basketball game or listen to an important speech without putting up with what used to be called obscenities.

Cursing is lazy because it�s imprecise. Analyze the soiled sentence and you�ll find the word either doesn�t mean exactly what�s intended or, most of the time, it�s not needed at all.

The aim is to shock.

The biggest shock will be felt by those who find the words objectionable. That�s thoughtless and uncaring at best, mean at worst.

For everyone else, swearing tends to distract and dehumanize. It raises emotions in areas irrelevant to intelligent and productive discussion, and can inaccurately demonize ideas that ought to be taken seriously.

We don�t have to put up with it. Turn off the TV. Unelect the offending officials. With cell phones and e-mail, it�s easier than ever to register complaints.

Such activism may not turn the tide of pop culture, but it will strengthen your personal integrity. And to cite one of my favorite quotations, generally attributed to Edmund Burke, �All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.�

Objecting when obscenities are forced on us is not old-fashioned, square, uncool, or even conservative. It�s about accuracy, manners, and basic human decency.

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