Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I swear. (Remind me to stay out of Virginia.)

My mother didn’t approve of foul language. Thus, by and large, she didn’t approve of her five children.

Whenever one of us – as adults, mind you – used a word she didn’t like,she would prissily announce that using vulgar language was the mark of someone with an impoverished, limited vocabulary. Which, quite frankly, we all knew was bullshit.

After all, thanks in large part to our book learnin’ parents and my mother’s obsession with all sorts of word puzzles, all of the Rogers children have rather extensive, big old vocabularies. We know what a bobeche is. What the word ‘inchoate’ means (even if we’ve never heard it pronounced). Sesquipedalian? Got. It. Covered.

So, sorry Ma, but phooey on you-ey if you think that only those with limited vocabularies resort to the f-word. (Fuck that!)

Anyway, I so routinely use swear words that I no longer even hear them. Nonetheless, I’m happy AF that texting has provided us with some nice little  - big old vocabulary alert: – acronyms that have a silent “fuck” embedded in them. WTF would we do without WTF?

What prompted me to think about swearing was an article in The Washington Post on a Virginia statute that forbids swearing.

Virginia law demands that residents keep it clean, even in moments crying out for the foulest four-letter words. It’s illegal in this state to curse in public.

“Profane swearing” is a Class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a $250 fine, right up there with public intoxication. It’s a law that predates the Civil War. Yet modern-day potty-mouths still get charged under it — in small numbers, but in ways that can raise troubling questions about law enforcement.(Source: WaPo)

Can I hear a WTF? Or do I need to stick to Jeez Louise? In any case, I’m staying the F out of Virginia, that’s for sure.

And I’ll just bet it “can raise troubling questions about law enforcement,” as in arresting someone whose jib you just don’t like the cut of. Maybe because they’re from, ahem, out of state.

“This is an interesting issue, in part because (even though they are supposed to issue a summons for misdemeanors) police often use this statute or a related local ordinance as an excuse to arrest someone, or at least stop them, and then do a search incident to arrest so they can arrest the person on another charge,” [the ACLU’s Claire Guthrie] Gastañaga said in an email.

Pink Slip has been at this blogging thing for a very long time. In fact, in early 2007, I tackled this topic in a post that still pretty much holds. I say pretty much because I don’t have the same – big old vocabulary alert: antipathy I once had toward the c-word. I don’t use it a lot, but I’ve adopted it for occasional use in the Irish sense, mostly when I’m putting myself in Irish mode. (In Ireland, it’s generally used to describe a male who’s more or less – likely more – an asshole.) While I attribute my softening on the c-word to the I’ve spent in the old sod, it may the New England – big old vocabulary alert: ambience that’s making it more acceptable. I saw on Wikipedia that New England is the area in the country where the c-word is most commonly used. (In tweets coming out of Maine – I was going to say emanating from, but didn’t want to put out another big old vocabulary alert – it’s second only to asshole as a twitter vulgarity. 

There is someone trying to get the anti-swearing law off the books:

A conservative on most issues, [Republican state delegate Michael] Webert says his goal is to protect free speech and shrink a bloated state code by removing a law already deemed unconstitutional decades ago under Virginia Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Good luck, Delegate Webert. Until you prevail, guess I’ll stay the F out of Virginia.

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