Well, as yet, you still can, but legislation has been introduced in Massachusetts by Democrat Dan Hunt to ban the derogatory use of the word “bitch” and to make such use of the word punishable.
This Meredith Brooks song wasn’t ever a favorite of mine, but that could change.
Everything is offensive to someone.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, people used to have some common sense. Used to be, back in the olden days, that we were generally taught that if we, personally, found something to be offensive then we should refrain from engaging in the behavior ourselves. Regarding the behavior of others, well, there’s all kinds of stuff out there in the world that I think is offensive in some way or another, and I do my level best to avoid it and those who engage in and perpetuate it. I’m sure there have been those who’ve felt likewise about me at some time or another. There’s a saying “Your right to be free includes my right to be free from you.” And vice versa. But what does that mean? And… that right there is the rub.
Shared public space. A shared public space is a space where people, ostensibly strangers, have to be to get things done, like standing in line at the Post Office. Does anyone want to be there? I don’t know. But there everyone is, taking care of their business. A sense of respect for one’s self and for others should dictate a sense of decorum. A sense of mannerliness. A sense of that while you’re standing in line, it’s rude to be on your phone cussing out whomever because you are then subjecting others to a conversation and language that perhaps isn’t appropriate or appreciated. Shared public spaces are one of the reasons why smoking is now banned in many such public spaces, just because you choose to smoke cigarettes doesn’t mean that you have the right to impose that smoke on other people in a shared public space. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Society is losing its sense of decorum.
Decorum. People used to have, and were generally taught a sense of “decorum.” Decorum is behavior appropriate to the time and the place one finds oneself in and understanding that that isn’t about conforming to societal norms or expectations, but it is about respect. Decorum is about respect for yourself, respect for your surroundings, respect for others. Decorum, for example, would dictate that one not walk into a pre-school punctuating one’s speech with the f-word every other word because one has a sense of respect for the little virgin ears populating the place. Decorum is an extension of having manners. A willful lack of manners isn’t rebellious, it’s just disrespectful. Some people mean to be disrespectful, for a variety of reasons, they weren’t taught any better, they don’t respect themselves, it’s the only way they can get attention, perhaps they felt disrespected and feel they are reciprocating, and so on. Sometimes people are just having a bad day, and that happens, we’ve all been there. Decorum and manners used to include things like gentlemen removing their hats at the table, or people not wearing red to a funeral. Wearing red to a funeral, as opposed to somber colors of mourning, is disrespectful because red is seen as a happy, celebratory color, and it is also a color that tends to draw attention to the wearer, while a funeral is supposed to be about paying respects to the departed. Used to be people wouldn’t dare go out in public in their pajamas, and now people do it all the time. Are your bedclothes appropriate attire for the grocery store? Pajama pants, but not so much a nightgown? What’s the difference? And so on.
The reason for having a sense of decorum, a sense of there being a time and a place, isn’t just because it makes things nicer for everyone. It is because people used to be smart enough and had enough common sense to understand what happens when people have no sense of decorum. Some of this lack of a sense of decorum is driven by people who feel some need to outwardly demonstrate how much they don’t give a fuck, pardon me. Let me just say, if you feel you have to prove to anyone how free you are, you’re probably not that free. But I’m going to guess that most such individuals don’t stop and think about how that affects the people around them. Do they care not at all for their fellow humans? Does it only matter if it is something they personally find to be offensive? The way we treat one another as human beings begins to deteriorate at its roots from this general lack of respect, and that means society begins to deteriorate. And because of it, someone in Bean Town doesn’t want anyone to be able to call anyone else a “Bitch” anymore.
Really, I find this kind of thinking to be beyond ignorant, not to mention it is a violation of the First Amendment. Most of us don’t care to be called names. A lot of us were raised by parents who told us that we couldn’t control other people. We were taught that old rhyme about sticks and stones. We were told that if so-and-so was a bully to do our best to stay away from them. This bill to ban the derogatory use of the word “bitch,” sounds like a grade-schooler running home from the playground saying, “Representative Dan! Make them stop!” And the only thing more childish than resorting to name-calling is possibly that. I don’t know about anyone else but I grew up in the 70s and if we came home whining about name-calling, we got laughed at and sent back into the fray. Or, if something really hurt my feelings, I was taught that it said more about the person who said whatever it was than it did about me, it said something was wrong with them that they felt the need to lash out in a thoughtless way, that they were hurting or jealous or just plain mean. I was also taught the importance of freedom of speech, one set of rules for everyone, and my mother told me straight up after one long afternoon of fighting with my girlfriends, “Not everyone is going to like you. You are not going to like everyone. Everyone doesn’t have to like everyone else. That’s that. Learn to deal with it.” You don’t have to like someone to treat them with respect, not because of who they are, but because of who you are. While that was something of a revelation at the moment, it still didn’t make it any easier sometimes. But it doesn’t change the fact that if we go do this road of “You can’t say this, that, or the other thing because it upsets someone.” it will be a very hard road to come back from. This is why people used to understand the importance of decorum. The importance of manners. The importance of not being the one jerk that screws things up for everyone else. “Jimmy brought firecrackers on the bus on the last field trip. So, now no one gets to go on field trips.”
“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
What that means is something like, if you continue to break curfew, you won’t be able to go out on Saturday night at all. Having freedom isn’t necessarily carte blanche to abuse that freedom. But, we can’t be judging people or stigmatizing, we can no longer collectively frown at the rude person in line at the Post Office because that would mean… we were rude and judgy? We, as a society, are losing our sense of right and wrong, something that isn’t morally arbitrary or a matter of opinion.
Where does this kind of completely ridiculous attempted encroachment on our freedom of speech end?
I’m saying this as a person who believes in having a sense of decorum, but who also has no use whatsoever for so-called political correctness. Political correctness is like a bad fashion trend that everyone is too afraid to say they don’t like because their friends are all wearing it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m old school about a lot of things, old fashioned even if you will. I see what’s happening in the United States, what’s starting to happen. I’m continuously flabbergasted that there are so many Americans who don’t seem to understand their own rights or the freedom we have here that no other country on Earth has, how unfathomably good we have it in this country, or how fragile that is. Where does this new strain of Puritanism end?
It ends when enough people realize how idiotic it is.
“Man, it’s not that serious. The First Amendment is first for a reason. Second Amendment is just in case the first one doesn’t work out.” -Dave Chappelle, comedian
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” – Ronald Regan
I never thought I’d empathize with Mr. Hand, but we all grow up eventually. Mr Hand knew that everyone was on the dope, and he was trying to save a generation from being ignorant, from getting hooked up on drinking the Brawndo.