Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Words have Power, they really mean something...

I have a rule in the library, that none of the crew may use profane, vulgar or obscene language while working. This is the base, zero tolerance for uttering foul language. Although I haven't ever fired anyone for it I will call their name out loudly, tell them that they should watch their language and clean up the conversation. I know I am in a prison, and I know men are prone to use such language to be tough and I know that "everyone" knows that it isn't to be taken personally. I should know that it isn't meant to be anything but common and it should roll off my back, but I am offended by it.

I once worked with a nice German woman, and was always irrated by her using American vulgarity in her language for emphasis. So I asked her why she didn't use the fine German vulgar language, she and sometimes I would be the only ones that could understand it. She told me that her mother wouldn't accept nor allow it, so she never swore or cussed in German, only in English. Ah, so most parents don't teach their children how to use bad language, and normally stop the first uses of it quickly. Washing one's mouth out with soap was a possibility in the old days. I am sure they didn't teach it in Sunday School, the Mosque nor the Temple. It wasn't on the list of spelling words, reading assignments nor was I permitted to be as creative in my writing. So I think I understand that such foul language that can be considered profane, obscene or vulgar is not beautiful, beneficial nor blessed by civilized society, so when it is used I am offended.

I personally came back from Vietnam, and was telling a great war story of my time there and a word most miserable popped out of my Army mouth - and my mind went into shock. This was in front of my parents in their home and I had used the most common verb for fornication as an adjective. There were so many wrongs at that moment, but my story continued, I remained in shock and apologized in my mind many times, but cowardly pretended it hadn't happened. My Army language improved from that day forward, I could make you miserable in so many ways with much better words and you might even think I was praising you. Telling the truth to trainees, when I was a Drill Sergeant, was much better than living out their Hollywood image of our relationship and what I could or couldn't say to or about them. It scared the trainee much more to have me whispering how pitiful his push ups were than calling him an evolutionary mistake on the Government's Scientific breeding program, in some vulgar or common way. So, just a common Noncommissioned Officer in the United States Army was aware and in control of himself enough that he didn't use foul language to communicate, or threaten, or demean the people he was talking to - because that language offended him.

Now, it is true that in the prison I expect that bad men will try to hurt me, intimidate me or make me feel bad or just a fool - but expecting it is only reality, accepting it is playing dead - I am not dead and I don't accept being hurt, intimidated, degraded or someone else's fool. Maybe it is the tie I wear, or the way I speak to the patrons and inmate clerks and corrections staff, but no one uses foul language around me without my calling them on it, gently, and lifting us out of the muck we were almost mired in.

I was recommended to find a Cranky Professor, a college Professor in English in a fine University, and I went to visit that blog. And this learned lady, warned me that she liked to use a vulgar term. I was not impressed - but knew immediately she wanted attention, hated me for my virtues, and will be quite happy living in the sewer of her life with muck hanging all over her. No wonder she is cranky, but then I do reserve my personal right not to read her much nor wallow in her muck. Those crude common misused words do offend me, and by lifting my workers up from the more common prison language as they perform their work and good customer service I am making this part of their world a little better. Too bad one day they might meet that learned college professor and have their dreams of polite perfect society smashed, but then they aren't supposed to improve are they? Well, if they don't improve after working with me, I will be offended.

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