01-18-2018 Letters and Commentary

CRUDER AND RUDER TIMES… none of us should be surprised at President Trump’s vulgar comments when speaking of immigration issues last week… calling some countries “s***holes.” Our language has “devolved” to communications filled with expletives and disparaging comments towards other people. I wonder where that turning point came; it can’t all be due to social media, nor can it be blamed on the schools entirely, nor television. Social media has its own code of abbreviations; “Oh my God” is OMG. “Laugh out loud” is LOL and so on. It does have its own lexicon of foul and obscene phrases. While our President will go down in history as the first Twitter President, his tweets are not as foul as his speech. It’s been some time since I warmed a school desk, so I’m less an expert on the language of the day in the classroom. What I picked up over the years came from communications with my own kids and then grandkids. While sometimes unintelligible, most of the commentary could be figured out with a little careful listening, attending events and from watching early evening TV. That widespread use of obscenity seems to have arisen out of its own cesspool without any help from the schools, social media, or the TV set. Somewhere along the line, perhaps the last 20 years or so, the public use of crudities has become acceptable. I’m pretty sure it didn’t start with the parents mimicking their kids. Harkening to the “good old days,” teachers would pounce on any miscreant misusing the language “there is no word as ain’t” and promptly report any use of a “four letter” word to the principal and parents. Those days are long gone and the toothpaste is out of the tube. There is no going back to more polite conversation and “cleaner” language, especially as the example is set by our leaders. Sadly the responsibility for “bad language” falls on us parents. We are the ones that sent our kids off to school without insisting they learn anything. We didn’t insist the school teach them anything either. In the interest of fewer taxes (less cost), we didn’t support millage programs to keep the schools in top shape, educationally and physically. We didn’t protest when art classes, votech classes, and fine arts programs were cut. When we did protest it was to keep the school buses on the road and the high school sports programs on the fields. Early on in a Karl’s Kolumn in a Capac Journal issue, I used the word “darn.” Retired school teacher Hazel Higgins fired off a note (that archaic form of communication before email and tweets) that read (something like)… I’m sorely disappointed that an educated man such as yourself would attempt to disguise such a disgusting word as damn by misusing the word darn. It was many a column later that I ventured anything like the same. Thankfully, language guardians such as Hazel and all others like her, have gone to their just reward before the current torrent of crudities became commonplace. I was amused by the painful contortions news commentators went to describe what the President actually said. Print media relied on the tried and true asterisk to block the offending word s***. The broadcast media used a “smudge” to hide it. The folks reading the actual tweets skipped the word or used “expletive deleted” to jump over it. One commentator on Morning Joe just plowed onward, reading a report and probably expecting a sharp producer to “bleep it.” There was no bleep and s***hole and s***house were aired on live morning TV. The most memorable was one I heard Tuesday morning; the news commentator replaced the President’s word with “open latrine.”

ONE-DAY THAW… It was hard to believe last Thursday dawned warm and rainy and by day’s end all the snow was gone that had accumulated since Christmas. We had nearly 3 feet on the deck and on the corner, the overhang from the eaves nearly met the snow on the deck. By Friday, the cold returned and with it, some more snow. Those of you heading out of town in the hopes of warming your toes south of here might have to go all the way to the gulf. Most of the country shivered along with us, north to south and east to west. Like many, I took advantage of the thaw to get the last of the decorations off the house and the little tree in the back yard. Then I drove around town with them in the back seat of the Jimmy all weekend, waiting for the opportunity to get them put away in the basement of the Record.

HEY SNOWBIRDS… now that the mass exodus is underway, please be reminded to give us your winter season address or hold your paper until your return. The Post Office will only forward your newspaper mail for a month, after that it is tossed out, but the meter is still running. Please let us know where you are so we don’t get an extra postage bill. And, there will be no delay in the delivery if we have the correct address.