EDITORIAL – No place for the profanity
Many Barbadians bemoan the fact that these times are nothing like the good old days.
They point to changing mores, they speak harshly about the way young people behave and dress, and the fact that a lot of the courtesies like “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me” appear to have become words to be avoided like the plague.
We leave it to the sociologists and other experts in the social sciences to tell us if these anecdotal observations have validity.
But there is little doubt that there has been a loosening of the restraints on the use of coarse or offensive and downright indecent language by many of us, and there appears to be more use of this kind of language in public spaces.
Sometimes it offends the sensibilities, and public condemnation of the person using the language follows, especially when the user is a child or youngish person and moreso if the miscreant is wearing a school uniform.
Nowadays, more often than not, it seems the offender gets no reprimand of any kind.
Disapproving members of the public make a mental note, shake their heads in disgust and pass by on the other side.
Of course, if the offended ears are those of a police officer, the result might be an appearance before the magistrate, for the law reflects majority disapproval of such behaviour in public.
Last week, international headlines suggested that a particular profanity, the C-word, is so widely used in this country that it had acquired a status similar to that of the N-word as used by Afro-Americans.
Our international pop icon Rihanna is quoted in the November issue of Vogue magazine as saying that when she first went to the United States, she was saying the word like it was nothing, until her frequent use of it attracted the attention of her make-up artist, who spoke up and told her to stop.
We are not prepared to say that there is any widespread acceptance or approval of the use of either theC-word or the N-word in this country, or that the C-word has acquired the notoriety of the N-word as used elsewhere.
Nor are we prepared to blind ourselves to the reality that profanities are heard in increasing frequency in public spaces in our country.
But modern technology has brought an increased use of certain offensive language, such as the C- and F-words, right into the sanctity of the family home and into the secret spaces of many a young person’s bedroom, from which it escapes into the wider space.
Yet swearing and the use of offensive language is also picked up by young children as a result of frequent use by their parents too, because the use of offensive and indecent language is not the preserve of our younger folk.
Some hardback men and women can be heard using such language mostly in confrontational situations and also in ordinary peaceful discourse in domestic settings.
This latest incident should be a call to arms for all Barbadians concerned about the direction in which the society is going.
Nobody is calling for all of us to be conformists or pious clones of each other, but there are certain practices that must not overtake our society. The widespread use of indecent or offensive language is one. It must be frowned upon!
Our society must make it clear that freedom of speech is constrained by responsibility in the public interest, imposed because we all have an interest in maintaining law and order.
Unrestricted use of indecent language, especially in public spaces, is as destructive of the society as widespread looting and stealing.