In Which it’s Funny ‘Cause it’s True

Tollerance is a many splendored thing.

caveats: 1. Context is; The kids are forced to go to the “Museum of Tolerance” for complaining about the outrageous behavior of their teacher (he’s trying to get fired “for being gay” and thus be able to sue the school).
2. Ignore the Ohio-related political stuff surrounding the clip: You aren’t missing anything if you turn it off once the screen goes black.
3. If you are offended by the use of certain anglo-saxon phrases (or are under the impression that there is a list of “bad” words somewhere), you may wish to not be amused by this particular link.

4 comments on “In Which it’s Funny ‘Cause it’s True

  1. There may not be a God-sanctioned list of “bad” words, but there is a God-commanded call to courtesy, which is an expression of love. As someone whose mouth (and the words that come out of it) have gotten her into quite a bit of trouble (moreso, I’d imagine, than yourself), I’d suggest that there’s a reason some words, within the context of a given culture at a given time, might be considered “bad”: we are fallen creatures whose tongues, if St. James is to be believed, are particularly prone to stumbling. When we persist, as we are prone to do, in using certain words to express sinful anger, prurience, blasphemy, derogation and the like, and those words become almost exclusively identified with those attitudes, I believe we are right to quarantine them. There is no “Thou shalt not say X, Y or Z,” but we are commanded to be self-controlled and wise.

    OK, now that I’ve veered too far off topic, I’ll just say that it’s a good thing the guy in the cartoon wasn’t an Evangelical Christian, too, or they’da made his tarred and feathered remains the triumphant central exhibit of the Tolerance Museum.

  2. valerie,

    i agree with you for the most part as far as practical application: a person who is easily offended is my weaker brother for whom I ought not to create a stumbling block (for instance, when writing, certain words i will avoid or edit with an asterisk, despite the absurdity of this practice). fair enough. but words signify something, and we ought to call things what they are as much as possible (again, taking into account the weakness of those around me). the problem is with our Victorian prissiness, not with any particular word. sometimes excrement is bullsh*t, not a poopy. Analogically, so are some ideas. Euphamism is often more harmful than being explicit and accurate in your language.
    the offense of movies like Get Shorty and Die Hard which use the word f*ck in excess of one time per minute is twofold: the writing is spectacularly poor. we know people say “um” constantly. it is lazy writing to use filler words like that: it is “realism” on the cheap. the second offense is that, when the filler word is something like f*ck, a very potent word is being corrupted of its power: the word’s meaning, and thus impact when used properly, is being destroyed: i want that word back! in the meantime, as Christians we should work to use words properly, consider the frame of our weaker brother, and be impossible to offend.

    and yes, you would be right if it weren’t for the fact that the average evangelical Christian would be elbowing his way to the front row of those slinging the tar. thank God for the hope of generational sanctification.

  3. I don’t know if you’ve read Harry Potter at all, but probably my favorite line in the whole septet is from Molly Weasley, longsuffering mother of seven, characterized by scolding, chiding, and berating her brood into good behavior. She is a paragon of virtue. And in book seven she faces off one of the nastiest of the nemeses and says, “Not my daughter, you bitch!” (Ooooh! and I wrote it without an asterisk!) So I will agree with you that “naughty” words, when used by wise people in the right circumstances, are apt as apples of gold in settings of silver. But perhaps one in a thousand of us is that wise. The rest of us should blush to use those words, because 999 times out of a thousand we’re going to abuse them. And while I don’t think we should get our knickers in a knot over how they’re used in media such as the clip you linked, I don’t think we should become inured to that sort of usage, either.

  4. Valerie,

    Again, though our practical application looks similar on the surface, there is still a fundamental theoretical difference. A word in and of itself is nearly meaningless, and certainly not dangerous. Context is everything. What does the sentence mean? What is going on in the broader conversation? Who is the speaker? Who is the audience? What is one trying to accomplish?

    Case Study:

    Damn. Damn.
    Damn. Damn.Damn. Damn.Damn. Damn.Damn. Damn.Damn. Damn.Damn. Damn.Damn. Damn.Damn. Damn.Damn. Damn.
    Damn. Damn.

    What did I just do (other than create a “damn” chiasm)? Am I being flippant with a “bad” word? I would argue that the above has no negative or positive value whatsoever: It is nonsense. Replace the “damn” with any “bad” word, and the result is the same: A whole lot of nothing.

    In one sense, the wisdom needed to use any word is not astronomical: Do you know the lexical meaning of the word? Do you know the colloquial use (if any) of the word? Does it express accurately and effectively what you are trying to communicate? Then there you go.

    In another sense, the use of all words takes wisdom because we do not live in a void, nor do we communicate in a void (speaking of nonsense). Who we are speaking to and what we are attempting to accomplish with regard to them always has to be considered (not to mention who might overhear or read us). The wisdom required to use the tongue in a Godly manner is indeed substantial. But that applies to all speaking, not especially in any way to particular words condemned by self-righteous Victorians.

    We ought to consider the frame of our neighbors, and with those who are like-minded with us, begin practicing using the proper words for things (this is actually a much larger problem than just the words which have come to be accepted as “bad”). I’m not suggesting “cussing” more often (usually this is just lazy superlative shorthand to express emotion. it lacks nuance and even accuracy. but that’s the extent of it’s offense in my mind).

    As we attempt to be more accurate and biblical with our language, our children (little sponges that they are) will have to be taught, because of the weakness of their brethren, the difference between “may” and “ought”. Put another way, despite the great need for accuracy and recovering a biblical use of language (not to mention needing to lighten up quite a bit), there is still a greater right than being “right”.



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