I sometimes walk past a crowd of kids and am treated to barrage of profanity. My inner fuddyduddy wants to say, “Do you kiss you mother or blow your priest with that mouth?” but I check myself. I remember what it was like to be young.
I don’t know how old I was when expletives began to pepper my conversation but I doubt it was long after I first heard them. Swearing suited me, as it did most young boys who desperately wanted to be cooler than they really were. My preferred dirty words were standard issue, describing either sex (of which I had no experience), or defecation (of which I had plenty).
Given my past, I’m willing to let kids be kids. However, not everyone shares my sentiments. McKay Hatch, 14 year-old boy in Southern California, has become the media darling of the tight-assed family values crowd with his No Cussing Club. The organization has spread to 49 states in the US (fight the power, South Dakota).
To become a member, girls and boys need to take the No Cussing Challenge:
I won’t cuss, swear, use bad language, or tell dirty jokes. Clean language is the sign of intelligence and always demands respect. I will use my language to uplift, encourage and motivate. I will Leave People Better Than I Found Them!
That would be a pretty tall order for me now, let alone when I was his age and thought the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles was the greatest cinematic moment ever.
There is a page on the site where the visitor can leave comments. I briefly entertained the notion of posting one from “firstname.lastname@example.org” asking to set me up on a date with his mother, but decided against it for two reasons:
- Picking on a kid, even one I think is wrongheaded, is tacky.
- Given the popularity of zero tolerance and protecting the children, pranks of this nature are a good way to end up registered as a sex offender. Among law enforcement zealots, talking dirty to a minor is tantamount to penis insertion.
So I’ll behave myself. I do have something to say to McKay in the extremely unlikely event that he’s reading this.
McKay, I know you think you’re doing the right thing and I respect that. And to tell the truth, I’d probably find the gutter talk that you hear from other kids vulgar and boring too. It’s stupid. But you see, a little stupidity is OK when you’re a kid. As long as the dirty are kept out of earshot of any grownup with authority, there is no real harm done. So lighten up and let the other kids have their fun. And if you hit your thumb with a hammer and have a few choice words to say about the incident, that’s OK too. The quest for justice has bigger fish to fry.