There is profanity. You hear profanity a lot these days. My kids hear it in the streets and on the school buses. You see it on the Internet a lot. Comedy Central has quite a few shows which feature profanity — South Park, in particular, strikes me as being quite inventive in its use of the words you can’t say on television — except you can, since it’s cable and not broadcast.
As a parent, you are supposed to worry about profanity, and discipline your children when they use it, and scowl at adults who use it in public.
Far better, though, that they hear profanity than obscenity.
Obscenities are screamed all the time by all sorts of madmen: they are the shouts of hatred raised by violent extremists, the venom spewed forth by Fred Phelps, by Osama bin Laden. They are like rabid dogs, to be kept in sight and quarantined, but not to be reasoned with.
It is the obscenities softly and gently spoken that do the most damage. The calm voice reasoning that it is surely acceptable to torture one person if to do so would save the lives of many others. That those who allow terrorists to live among them are colluding with acts of terror, and therefore should expect no mercy. That “collateral damage” is merely regrettable.
And then there is …. the clear rational sane civil amoral voice which states that not only is it acceptable to kill children, it is a virtue to do so.
It is rare that a post has made me literally sick to my stomach, but this one did. The calm dismissal of objections as naiveté (stock-in-trade for most who utter these sorts of obscenities); the reduction of war to some sort of exercise in game theory (albeit with deadly consequences); the inability to see the other side as anything other than cardboard cutouts; the blindness to the long-term consequences of such an evil (there is no other word) policy; and, on a much more superficial level, the psuedo-intellectual use of dialogue a lá Plato; all of it enough to make the skin crawl. (My favorite comment, by one Jason, summed up Grim’s argument nicely: “It was necessary to kill the children in order to save them.” Reading the comments, however, takes a bit of a strong stomach. I wish the commenter who said “Brilliant Satire. Very edgy, avant guarde. Thank god no one actually thinks this way.” had been right.)
On the whole, I much prefer profanity. I think I need to go take a shower now; I feel dirty just having read this.
(Link from Atrios)