Opinion

The case for making expletives deleted

Bob Burnett
Bob Burnett

ONE of the characteristics of a sane, sensible and

decent society is boundaries. We have boundaries for the conduct of human behaviour.

Boundaries teach us self-control, self-discipline, respect for others and awareness of the other person with whom we share the world and life.

Be it a white line that tells us to stay on the left side of the road, or a law that says you must not take what belongs to someone else, or cultural mores that say that when travelling on public transport you should surrender your seat to a pregnant woman, boundaries are the glue that holds society together.

They enable a disparate group of people to function in some semblance of harmony.

I have a theory that language is the frontline in the boundaries battle.

In every culture there are certain taboo words, which one must not use in polite and public conversation for the simple reason that they offend.

In Australia, that's been recognised and attempts made to eliminate offensive words from our vocabulary, especially words that are inherently racist or sexist.

But what about expletives?

I grew up in a culture where certain expletives were never used in polite conversation and never used where there was a possibility that they could offend.

Even regular users of these expletives would chasten a mate who used such words in a situation where they could cause offence.

It was a good discipline, and a discipline that flowed throughout life: "Respect the other person, be aware that you are not the only person on the planet".

You have to have a self-discipline frontline some

where, and I believe that frontline is the use of language.

So how come the arts and entertainment industries believe it's their calling to move the frontline, or dismantle it altogether?

How come we have to have the mandatory offensive expletives in a television program, movie or novel before it can be considered "cool"?

Take for instance the ABC series Strange Calls, set in Coolum.

With wonderful assets such as delightfully quirky storylines and top-shelf acting, how come the writers and producers thought we had to have the mandatory gratuitous expletives in each episode?

This series probably will reach the heights of "cult classic", but to me they will always be marred by the expletives.

Why the expletives? Was it just to gain an "M" rating, so that "cool" people ("mature" people) would watch each episode?

The expletives added nothing. They were a distraction. Why do we feel we have to tear down what are life-enhancing boundaries?

I suspect it's because there's something in us that says: "Because society says I mustn't, therefore I will. I will stretch, shift and destroy the boundaries".

Topics:  opinion



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