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Observing Verbal Decorum
I will repeat this one more time for Mary.
Some may remember George Carlin's "Seven Little Words You Can Never Say on Television" routine, and the banning of that routine by the FCC, and the resulting case which went all the way to the Supreme Court, the Court affirming a lower court's upholding the constitutionality of the FCC's banning words that it considered "patently offensive."
It would be good, since such "patently offensive words" seldom convince, and always lower the tone, if attempts were made to suppress the urge to use them at this website.
One can, after all, smuggle all kinds of things in through a poker-faced pun, so as not to outwardly disturb public morals.
One example. from a comment posted, about a list some magazine had compiled of the "20 Most Important Intellectuals":
"No Tariq Ramadan? No Cornel West? No Jeffery Sachs? This list is not nearly as completely 100% awful as it should be; the presence of Umberto Eco at #2 throws one off.
But nothing takes the cake like having Thomas Friedman, the man who uses his fingers to "make" "quotation" "mark" "signs" "around" "words" when he talks, appear on a list of the “20 Most Important” or indeed on any list at all, of "intellectuals."
The world is flat, says never-doubting-for-a-minute Thomas Friedman. Platitudes, plongitudes.
Le monde est bien plat. Quant a l'autre, sornettes. Put that in your pipe (ceci n'est pas une pipe, as the dissatisfied customer complained loudly to the management of the maison close on rue Chabanais), you compilers of such idiotic lists -- and smoke it.
One of those Seven Little Words is present, wearing an Inspector Clouseau disguise as it glides virtually unnoticed through the art gallery, in the last sentence. Those who read that posting would not have been offended. A matter of phrasing. A matter of tact.
The failure to observe the rules of verbal decorum could drive away visitors. In the past such a problem would not have arisen. The line between the seemly and the unseemly, le cru et le cuit, would have been clearly demarcated. But unseemly language can now be encountered at every stratum of society. It can be heard in the speech of the grasping stock market racketeer in his home office, next to his home gym, in New Canaan, Connecticut. It can be heard in the lecture of the tie-less, suit-less, sock-less professor on Morningside Heights who, wishing to demonstrate to his students just how with-it he can be, delivers himself of phrases that fail to impress, his crude quotes left to haunt him when they appear, unexpunged and unexpungeable, in the next edition of the Student Guide to Professors.
Unseemliness can even be detected on the lips of the non-native speaker of English. Just imagine a well-bred and fetching French agronomist, winsome and wayward, deeply involved in an irrumation project in Mentula, Mississippi, who has learned from the locals to reproduce an expression the meaning of which she, in her innocence, does not fully grasp. Under the circumstances, one would naturally forgive her lapses of langue and parole.
In order to keep the site presentable and accounted for, one has to be a little less forgiving here.
As the raspy-voiced referee with the cigar stub jammed in the side of his mouth always says just before the opening bell sounds for the first round of the bout in Madison Square Garden: Got that, boys? Just make sure you keep things clean. No hitting below the belt. Now get out there and fight.