Google Analytics Tracking Code

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Paige. What would she do?
I was already starting to get a little uncomfortable with the ease of the off-color language at the recent Senior Roast. Then I saw Paige, a sophomore I know well, two people over. From what I know of her, I would assume she is more conservative with her language. But if she were at the microphone, would she talk this way? Would it be so natural and acceptable as it seemed to the roasters and the crowd? After all, the two ladies at the microphone seemed like Paige to me too. I had mostly seen them singing with the Acabellas, including many sweet songs, including Christmas Carols.

I am not judging by the way. At least I don’t think I am. I try not to be a big curser, especially in public, or in front of my kids. Or anyone’s kids. I regretted a phrase that resulted in being called out by a parent in a recent post, though I still maintain it was more figurative than literal. Something about a bird and flipping. And you can’t watch the Spurs and Packers as much as I do and not help but let a few bad words fly once in awhile. Plus, I don’t think of myself as prudish. I am not offended by foul language in films either, unless it is gratuitous. Which it usually is.

I love Jon Stewart and have no trouble with his swearing on The Daily Show. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t bleeped out, but actually, knowing what he is saying and not having to hear it just feels better to me. My favorite comedian, BrianRegan never curses. Tony Dungy may be one of the only non-cursing coaches ever to win a Super Bowl.

Some of my favorite people swear though. I won’t name the past and present administrators at Trinity who swear. Except for former VP Felicia Lee. She is a master of cursing and it seems hilarious coming from her. This brings up the first issue. Is there any relationship between swearing and character? Well, I don’t really think so. Some of my favorite people swear, including Felicia. But there are other favorites, such as Wanda Olson, who have never sworn in front of me. It would be really odd if she ever did. My wife doesn't swear, but she listens to hip-hop music that sends me straight to confession.

The second issue is about the setting. I recently watched a Conan O’Brien documentary and wasn’t surprised that he swore a lot. But I didn’t expect it based on his network persona. I guess in hindsight, I didn’t expect those angels from the Acabellas to swear either. But I shouldn’t be shocked. When it spills over into public settings though, I wonder why we should simply accept it. I first felt this way when my kids were little and we went to Trinity sporting events and students, in casual conversation, were dropping the f-bombs without any regard for the setting. I think every parent eventually faces their entrance into being a fuddy-duddy. This was mine. A student recently relayed to me that when hosting a prospective student and family in Mabee she had to apologize for the language being used the next table over. Have we lost awareness? Civility?

And finally, the issue settles on whether or not cursing is necessary. Swearing is so commonplace that it really holds no meaning for most people. It is used for emphasis and humor. But imagine Humphrey Bogart saying "Of all the f***ing gin joints in the world, that sl** walks into mine..." Sometimes there is more power without the bad language. I remember trying to explain to an old girlfriend's father that the language in films was just reflecting reality. He challenged me, asking, "is it really?" Needless to say I broke up with his daughter. But I see his wisdom now. It really is only reality if we make it that way. And it isn't everyone's.

As for Paige, I know her, from among other things, for being a member of my running group. One day during a run she turned to the side and spit like a major league baseball player. My goodness, I didn’t expect that. But why not? And it isn’t just because I can’t spit. (Which is very embarrassing, by the way.) I think of Paige as quite elegant and classy. Then I found out she was also teaching student Katie Ogawa to spit. Now that I expect. Does Paige swear like everyone else seems to?  In the end, I don’t think I really want to know. And I'm not sure that it really matters.

Weigh in on the poll, upper right.


Justhedetails said...

My dearest DT,

I was *forced* to attend the Senior Roast in February. As you well know, Kendra can be very persuasive....My better judgement warned me otherwise and still, I did not listen.

Kendra knows my feeling about cursing like a burly, red-flannel, Carharts-wearing truck driver. I was forewarned. While I was a bit? embarrassed by some of the content and overt use of the infamous F-bombs, I understood it's done in the spirit of a tight knit community of their peers. You and I were the outsiders - like the foreign-exchange student from Italy in Trinity America. Things can be taken out of context due to the *language* barrier. There's a palpable sense of awkwardness because we look different from the rest of the kids. We aren't *really* part of the click yet, but there's a clear sense of acceptance and respect. THEY really wanted us to be there. Blushing aside, we were one with them that night.
There were so many students who came up to introduce themselves and to apologize in advance for the effin' and all the non-garden ho' references. It eased me into my seat and reminded me to buckle up. I also like to pretend the Kendra I know and LOVE is not defined by her big bold *personality* she represents on campus. Don't get me wrong, that IS the real Kendra. That's the same Kendra who at 4 years old gave her favorite stuffed dog to a complete stranger at the hospital b/c the little old lady scared and had no visitors that week. The same Kendra who has never used a curse word in my presence, not ever until the roast :-/. The same kid who devoted so much of her youth in service in our community. We are proud of her recognition at the Senior Roast - honestly, we discouraged DAD from attending for the same reasons you address. Maybe it's a dad thing, maybe it's a guy-girl thing. Words don't define people. In the TU Community these *kids* understand what their words mean, The lingo will morph into the same language you and I understand (and prefer) you know, the same way a foreign exchange student (like FEZ) starts to pick up n the subtle nuances of what is being said before he actually can speak the language.
Entendez vous? Oui, Si ....and heck yeah!
Thanks for ALL your unconditional love for our sweet, little tarnished *angels*. We'll get over it and so will they.
P.S. I'll bring a bar of soap to Graduation, just in case ;)

Jeannette Doshier
Anchorage, Alaska

David Tuttle said...

Well, of course I find all of your comments just right! I mostly thought the event gave me a nice platform to speak about this issue, but these students involved are, of course, fantastic. I am mad at Kendra though because she is woefully indifferent to my request for the Acabellas to do a Bruce Springsteen song. They titillated me at Spotlight when it was announced they would do a BS number, only to learn it was a medley from some girl named Britney something. But I can dream.

Unknown said...

I am sorry but I have to disagree. WORDS DO DEFINE PEOPLE. Intent is derived from word choice and tone of voice. How you intend to be perceived by others is dictated by what you say and how you say it. Why else would you need a job interview to determine the best qualified candidate to fit into an organization? In my parents' day, a college educated individual was deemed to be refined, and while college is far more than a finishing school, we should expect our graduates to conduct themselves as adults and not as the teenagers who entered as freshmen. The day that civility is dead, we are all doomed.