Hardly a day goes by that I don’t mutter at least five of the words George Carlin couldn’t say on television. (For the law-related post of the month, see Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).) Why, trained professionals have even been known to place bets on whether I could make an hour’s presentation to a group of lawyers without uttering at least one of those words.
My language has offended others more than once. When I took up the matter of slipping on dog shit with the manager of PetSmart in Texas, he took me to task for using the word “shit,” insisting that it violated his born-again Christian beliefs. I really think he should’ve been more concerned about a personal injury claim than words which most likely wouldn’t have bothered Jesus Christ himself. A stewardess who awakened me from a peaceful mid-flight slumber by pouring some stinking beverage all over me got all hot and bothered by my outcry of “Shit, fuck!” and insisting that I’d committed an act of near-terrorism by cursing on her flight and offending her family values. Well, she shouldn’t have awakened me like that. She never bothered to apologize, either.
I live on a narrow, one-way street. Yesterday, as I drove out of my driveway, another car was heading the wrong direction. Now, we usually pull a stand-off at this point, making the offender back up. The driver, an educativa in a late-model car, would not play by the rules. I had no choice but to re-open my electric gate and back in, letting her know that this was, after all, a one-way street and she was driving in the wrong direction. She flipped me off, so I returned her greeting with a good ol’ Nelson Rockefeller salute. It had been ages since anyone’s given me the finger, and it had been ages since I’d returned the gesture.
Later that day, over coffee with a well-educated, well-bred, card-carrying member of the buena gente, I mentioned the incident. She, too, had given the finger to the protestors who’d hijacked all of Morelia’s major thoroughfares. They deserved it.
And this week, the kind and good people of South Pasadena are celebrating No Cussing Week. All of that leaves me a little confused. Does that mean everyone there’s supposed to go around saying “Oh, feces” and “You, fellator, you?” What about swearing on a stack of Bibles to tell the whole truth and nothing by the truth? Someone really ought to donate a copy of Richard Dooling’s Blue Streak: Swearing, Free Speech and Sexual Harassment to the city library.
I guess it’s still socially acceptable to flip the bird in South Pasadena.