Sunday, January 29, 2012

And now for something completely different: A post about censorship

I tend not to curse a whole lot. That's partly because I don't feel the need to often, and also, as much as I love arguing, sometimes disputes are best left not started by parents of children in public places, etc., by letting loose a toe-stubbing stream. And profanity's only a part of it; I think nudity, violence, scary stuff, and whatever else needn't be so taboo. Or Macbeth, for that matter, but that's a different story - I think. Now I'm fairly certain I've never used the word "fuck" on this blog before. I don't have a filter for mature content, nor will I consent to one for this post. I understand why parents don't want their kids to drink or smoke. Those are actually bad for them.

But what to do if one's child says something naughty? I'm going to pretend I am in my thirties or forties. I'm a full-time writer living in a flat in East Sussex when my six-year-old daughter (Callista Xylia [Winter] is a good name) walks into my study as I am pounding out an important piece of writing.

HER. Lewis?
ME. Yes, dear?
HER. What does fuck mean?
- THE AVERAGE PARENT. Don't you ever say that again! Go to your room!
- ME. It's a derogatory term used to indicate sexual acts, which can function as a noun ("that old fuck," for example) or more commonly a verb ("go fuck yourself!" - a base thing to say, but it is commonly used where I'm from). It may also take on the meaning of something gone wrong, for example, "He's a fuckup." You might not want to say fuck around the common public, but I don't personally mind your saying it in the house. So what do you want for lunch?

The odd thing is, "superiors" of age who scold young ones for cursing often have dirtier vocabulary themselves. And if you noticed my theoretical child calling me by my first name, real or not, it's because I don't find it even remotely disrespectful in any way. Now, another mini-script:

ADULT. Shit! What the hell did you do this time?
CHILD. Oh crap....
[ADULT freaks out over the kid saying "crap"]

The enormity of this hypocrisy astounds me. Also, if kids are going to hear words in real life, what's the point in shielding them from the media? As I understand it, a modern movie can have one F-bomb, sometimes two, and more than that will get it an "R" rating. I understand that intense violence or terror might disturb some people. Still. I could handle most anything on the big screen when I was thirteen or fourteen, but the age remains seventeen, with the exception of bringing a guardian.

When it comes to nudity, I'm iffy. My French teacher from last semester said that in France, nudes are sometimes featured on billboards or in shop windows. Not pornography, of course, just humans in their natural form. I'm fine with that, and the main reasons I think people ought to wear clothing still are cold weather, fashion (there is an art to attire, I think), and to prevent (really, lessen) those lusty weirdos we have so many of today. I'm not saying these things to be perverse; I just don't think there's initially anything wrong with any creature at its purest form. In English III, we read a Mark Twain essay titled "The Lowest Animal," in which he described humans' need to cover themselves up in shame or shyness (hey, I wore a swim shirt for years due to shyness, so I'm not attacking those people), but again, I think with the creeps we have in the modern world, clothing is best.

Drugs and alcohol I'm fine with in media as long as they aren't encouraged. I alluded to this earlier in saying that they stunt growth and cause other medical problems in reality if consumed or otherwise used. But if someone under twenty-one hollers out a swearword, it doesn't make one arm shorter or impair senses. They're just words. The only words I mind (and nearly never say) are terms of bigotry and prejudice. You know, like "nigger" or "faggot," etc. And I don't say them here to use them - I think if treated carefully, like an unstable mineral, they can be regarded for their meanings. In the same English III class, we watched a video about Huck Finn in which a literature professor named David Bradley (known to us a Black Santa - that was one impressive beard!) said he didn't think the uses of N. ought to be censored in Mr. Twain's novel; they were very well contextual, as it took place during the era of American slavery in the nineteenth century.

All in all, I think some censorship is appropriate, but one mustn't try to hide reality from one's offspring. I've been up literally all night. It is presently four-fifteen in the morning here, which means I have school in about three hours. My previous post, the one about Redwall, was written shortly before this one. I'm on a roll, what, what? Anyhow, I'd better wrap this one up. Hope I didn't offend anyone, but if I did, what was the point of this post, huh?

Love to all,
Lewis Winter


  1. I point you to this post on MiddleMeThis. There are a number of reasons why I don't swear terribly often, but one of them is that I prefer to maintain the power that those words have. When I do swear, they mean that much more.