The Language I Care About

“Johnny said, ‘SH*T,’” said the first grader.

“Okay,” I said. “Go sit down.” I refrained from telling him that I didn’t care.

These days I teach high school students and their language is unabashedly crude, and I don’t care about that either, except when they’re using it to show hostility.

I’ve also known social workers who cussed a blue streak to show their street creds. I thought it made them sound silly but I didn’t care. I had a seminary professor who was fond of saying the “f” word. He thought it made him look tough. It didn’t but that’s okay. Nobody seemed to care.

Crude language is used in the movies and in television and not many seem to mind.

I didn’t care when my children tried out new words. However, I told them they should have good judgment and use language that showed respect for to their teachers, and of course their mother.

President Trump used a naughty word the other day and I don’t care about that either. The press seemed to care and they quoted him a lot. Frankly, they sounded like little kids telling on a classmate. “Teacher, Donny said a bad word…!”

I fear they’re missing the point, which is that our President has repeatedly expressed in one way or another great disrespect to many. This time it was toward poor countries in Africa. Other times, he may not have used salty language but he said plenty of offensive things–I’m thinking of Mexico, Australia, and China. I didn’t object to him being hard-nosed in negotiating with them. I understand there is disagreement. But as with Africa, he insulted them.

Additionally, we’ve lost track of the times he has twittered petty insults at individuals, too. And because he is our President, I care about that.

However, I’m not surprised. Before he was President, we knew that he told women they were fat and ugly. We knew he made crude passes at them and that he spoke disrespectfully about them. We saw him ridicule a handicapped person. We heard him say angry, nasty things when he was on the campaign trail. But voters didn’t care.

I didn’t care what he said when he was a minor TV celebrity but I care when he represents my country on the world stage. I care that he does not understand diplomacy to the point where he is in a “peeing contest” with the leader of North Korea.

Lots of Presidents have been known to have a flair for expletives but they knew how to choose appropriate words for the right events. This President does not. It’s more than embarrassing. It’s amateurish and therefore dangerous.

I fear that one day we will all care very much about that.

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