Editor’s Note: More than 10 years ago, Tim Wildmon wrote about how profane and disrespectful language was permeating every facet of our culture. Even if we don’t stem the tide, the subject merits repeating. Maybe some will be challenged to consider their words. This is a lightly abbreviated version of his April 2011 column.
August 2021 – So I was in a cab taking me back to the airport in Austin, Texas, Tuesday, when the driver asked me where I was from. When I told him Tupelo, Mississippi, he said, “Oh, Elvis.” He went on to say how he grew up listening to Elvis and liked him much better than the Beatles. He was the talking type, which was fine. Then out of the blue he said: “Some people didn’t like Elvis but you know what I say – *%## those people.”
Then he asked, “What do you think about that?”
Expecting me to concur, I responded: “Well, I don’t use that kind of language.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he replied.
When we were down at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, I looked away for a couple of seconds on the downtown bridge and hit the car ahead of me causing a mild fender bender. The driver, a Michigan fan with a New York license plate, got out, looked at her car and pointed at one place and blurted out: “Yes, it *%##%* up my car right here.”
When the national health care bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama [in 2012], Vice President Joe Biden was caught on camera telling the president it was “a big *#**##% deal.”
Without a doubt, the open, public use of obscenities has increased over the last few years. In youth culture, the most popular form of music – rap – would have few lyrics left if it omitted profanities and obscenities.
To say that this kind of vile language is now mainstream is an understatement.
One recent Tuesday night, the ESPN cameras caught Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari using the same obscene word while scolding one of his players, Terrence Jones, in a game against Alabama.
Calipari did apologize to the public after the game and then on his radio program Wednesday night.
Jesus said in the Scriptures: “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
Spiritually speaking, if we are using profanity on a regular basis, our heart cannot be right with God.
We have, sadly, lost our sense of shame.
I’ve been told for years that profanity is just a normal part of athletics, at any level. I find it a little more than ironic that one of the basic fundamentals that coaches try to instill into their players is self-discipline and self-control and yet too many coaches, as in the case of Calipari, seemingly make no effort to apply self-control when it comes to their own language.
If you have to resort to using the F-word in order to get the attention of your players, that is a sad commentary on your ability to lead people, athletes or otherwise.
And what’s worse is when we hear the Lord’s name taken in vain.
In Exodus 20:7 God gave Moses the fourth commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
I have never cursed using the Lord’s name, and the main reason is I have always feared those last few words, “…the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
The bottom line is we Americans, collectively, have become mockers of God and His standards. When someone raises these issues, he is often ridiculed and called a prude. And a prude is worse than a person who uses obscenities in today’s upside-down culture. I was listening to an ESPN radio show after Calipari’s incident, and the two hosts were defending the coach and saying he had nothing to apologize for.
Yes, he did.
From a sociological standpoint, I have wondered why people feel the need to use obscene language or take the Lord’s name in vain. Why didn’t Calipari just insert the word “igloo” instead of the F-word? It must make people feel empowered to say something they know is wrong to say in the first place. Otherwise, as I have said, why not say “igloo” or “aardvark?” Rebelling against societal norms gets you respect or makes you a tough guy is the thinking, I suppose.
Sad thing is – the obscene language is quickly becoming the norm.