This originally posted in 2011, but with the recent demand for Toys R Us to remove a toy from its shelves because a mom thinks it's inappropriate, and their compliance to do so despite having 6 times as many signatures asking them to continue selling it, I think it shows that censorship continues to be a problem. This post is just as appropriate now as it was 3 years ago. It's time we take ownership rather than place blame, and teach not censor.
Really?! Second hand smoke?! Come on! It's words...Words don't kill!
Words are just words, and have no power unless you give them power. The word "bitch" used to mean simply a female dog. The "F"word was actually once a common term for banging two items together, and the word "fag" in England means a cigarette. It is society that has changed the meaning of the words to suit our purposes. If people stopped using these words, new ones would just replace them and take on different meanings.
When you drop something on your foot and yell "Oh, Sugar!" Aren't you meaning the same thing as if you said "oh shit!"? You just had sense enough to "know your audience" because you know your 3 year old is standing there and will quickly repeat what you said.
TV networks have to do the same thing. They adjust the words used to that of their audience. You won't hear Bob the Builder scream profanities because it's designed for children. But, tune into a show designed for adults like "House" and you may hear the occasional bad word.
This is not an insult to our intelligence, in fact it is a compliment to our knowledge. If a network tried to put a drama on that had all the characters yelling "oh phooey gosh darn gee wiz I really just don't like you." it would very quickly fail, because people want to watch dramas that depict reality. TV shows have more "expletives" on them because they are being more true to the real world. It's just how people talk.
As for the negative impact of foul language on children...
I have never shielded my children from words, but have raised them to know they are inappropriate in everyday conversation, and were off limits to them to use as children. Now this doesn't mean they were free to watch whatever shows they wanted, and listen to the musical artists that they do now when they were kids. No, I filtered what they could view, what they could listen to, and if they repeated something they heard, they were disciplined. I took the responsibility of parenting, rather than point fingers at what the rest of the world was doing wrong, I taught mine to do what's right.
My daughters are teenagers, they have attitudes, they don't like to do homework, they listen to music I don't always like, and sometimes they make bad decisions, but overall they're good kids. They know right from wrong, and while I'm sure they say some cuss words with their friends, they are smart enough never to say them in front of an adult because... they know their audience.
Eliminating foul language from the world to protect our youth is no more the answer than is burning books to shield them from inappropriate thoughts. Just as TV Networks, and movie producers know their audience, so must we as parents. Watch what your children are watching and if necessary change the channel! Listen to their music and discuss the meanings of the lyrics with your child. Don't shield them, teach them, parent them, because they are your audience.
♪Take this pink ribbon off my eyes, I'm exposed and it's no big surprise don't you think I know exactly where I stand this world is forcing me to hold your hand♪ (No Doubt)