My husband and I were at a fast food restaurant, waiting to order, when two men stepped into line behind us. They were in conversation with each other, but the language coming from one of them was—how shall I put this?—rather colorful. Apparently this guy’s vocabulary was so limited that the only adjective he knew began with an “f.”
I flashed my husband a look that said Aren’t you going to do something about this?
He shrugged and gave me a look that answered What can you do?
Something inside me snapped. I turned around and said as sweetly as I could, “Excuse me, sir, but I’m sure you’re far too much of a gentleman to use language like that in front of a lady.” The guy blushed red and mumbled an apology.
Problem solved, at least for the moment. (I had discovered long ago that if you pair your request with a compliment, you are far more likely to get what you want. What was this guy going to say? Something like “No, I’m not a gentleman”?)
I admit to being dismayed by the lack of respect in our American society. Whatever happened to gentlemen? To ladies?
I really began to wonder when I got involved in the comments section of another Catholic blog. The blogger had given a link to an article that sounded intriguing, so I had clicked on it—only to find cuss words in the first paragraph. I asked the blogger to please give a warning if an article contained profanity. After all, children might take a look at what Mommy or Daddy is reading. For their sake, couldn’t he caution us that there might be a problem?
You wouldn’t believe how I got raked over the coals about that.
By other Catholics.
I was told it was my fault for clicking on the link—as if I could know there was profanity in the article before I read it. I was told I was totally unreasonable, even though I had only asked for a warning to protect children.
I was flabbergasted. Is that how common profanity has become? That we’re now defending it?
The Bible holds a different view. Colossians 3:8 tells us “But now put you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth.” Ephesians 5:3-4 says “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints: or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility.”
My husband and I, along with some friends and their children, had to move our picnic when a group of people came to the park with a boom box blasting obscenities. I and my kids have been assaulted by salty language broadcast from someone’s car radio while I’m pumping gas (and, when I related this story on the internet, some girl told me it was my fault for being there in the first place—as if I could have known ahead of time that this other car would pull up to the pump next to mine).
When my kids were young, a friend told me it was okay for them to be exposed to his profanity because they were going to hear it at school anyways. And it’s true that they were exposed to it there. However, when my older daughter was asked by one of her female classmates why she never cussed, she simply replied, “I’m a lady.”
I would like to see more ladies, more gentlemen in the world, if for no other reason than the dire warning spoken by Christ Himself: “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
If we have to account for just idle words, how much more will we have to account for obscene ones?