Posts tagged " profanity "

Predictably Offensive

April 9th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 24 comments

If you pass by a lady who is  standing on a busy sidewalk and staring upwards, it probably doesn’t mean much. She might be stretching her neck or watching a butterfly.  If you pass by a crowd of twenty people all avidly gazing upwards, it probably means that something is happening up there.

If one person invests in a crypto-currency it’s hardly worth noting, but if ten thousand do it’s a trend that should be understood.  If three or four companies depart a high-tax state for one in which taxes are low, politicians might ignore it.  But if hundreds move each year, it would be sheer folly for state leaders to ignore the trend. 

If every individual picked his own profanity, swear word, or obscenity, there’d be little to discuss.  But if millions of speakers over many centuries confine their verbal vulgarities to mostly three categories, discovering why could be valuable.  It turns out that almost all dirty dialect and putrid patter revolve around the bathroom function of defecation, the sexual function of copulation, and God.  I discuss a number of reasons for this in my audio CD on the topic, but I’d like to look at an additional explanation.


Paint by Words

May 1st, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

How easy it is to become impatient with a long story being recounted to us by a toddler, colleague, client, customer, or patient. Unfortunately, leadership, whether in business or the family, sometimes depends upon making the best decision after receiving nothing more than a written or verbal report.

When we are the ones relaying information, we can get frustrated as our listeners tune us out. Instead of our employees, spouse, children or patients paying attention, they seem uninterested or distracted.

How do we become better at both giving and receiving information?

This verse can help:

Just watch out for yourself…lest you forget the words which your eyes saw,

… and you shall make them known to your children and your grandchildren.

(Deuteronomy 4:9)

Why does Deuteronomy 4:9 refer to words that are seen? We see things, not words. I sympathize with the plight of translators who often mistakenly write, “Just watch out for yourself…lest you forget the things which your eyes saw…”

While ‘things’ is a possible alternative meaning for the Hebrew word, DeVaRiM, which is used here, it is not correct in this context. DeVaRiM, meaning words, is the Hebrew name for the fifth of the Five Books of Moses and is the second Hebrew word of the book.

These are the words (DeVaRiM) which Moses spoke to all Israel…

(Deuteronomy 1:1)

As our verse reveals, central to the entire theme of inter-generational Torah transmission is that we must transmit to our children and grandchildren specific words and not general things. But spoken words like the Torah taught by Moses are heard not seen!

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the unusual language in the verse refers to the fact that the entire Sinai revelation was an integrated, comprehensive, multi-media experience; a sort of son-et-lumiere show. There was a visual depiction of the words spoken by God.

Why was this necessary?

When we see a landscape, a statue, a battlefield or a building, we instantly grasp the entire picture. No translation is necessary.

Many of us still prefer watches with hands because by merely glancing at the position of those little hands, we instantly understand that we’re late. Seeing a colorful graph reflecting sales figures immediately lets us know how the company is doing compared to last year. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

When we look at details or hear a recitation, our brains need to convert the information into useful real world information such as “you’re late!” Listening to a lesson, a speech or a piece of music requires that we concentrate through its entirety since it imparts meaning only once our brains have assembled hundreds of words or musical notes into one integrated totality.

Our verse teaches the correct technique for coping with the challenge of conveying and receiving information. As listeners, we need to exercise our memory muscles in order to concentrate on converting a long flow of words into one complete picture that we can almost see in our mind’s eye. Only then can we exercise judgment and leadership in arriving at the right conclusion and taking the best actions.

When relaying important information, try to make it come alive, using words and imagery which captivate your listener and help him visualize what you are saying. Try making your listener see a picture rather than just hear words.

In directing the children of Israel to convey words to children and grandchildren, God taught us how to effectively do so. The words must be so alive that they can actually be seen just as they originally were when God presented them.

Increasing your comprehension, vocabulary and fluency is one of the most important steps you can take to improve effective communication in your business and family lives. Whether or not you use it, the foul language which abounds in our culture impedes success. Every word you speak and hear affects your income, your family and your soul. Our best-selling (and on sale) audio CD, Perils of Profanity will help you become aware of the poisonous effect of profanity and provide guidance for combating it.

Mother’s Day is approaching –

Flowers for mom: $29.99.

A charm bracelet: $149.99

Cleaning up your verbal act: Priceless

(+ $6.95 online this week)

This week’s Susan’s Musings: Profiling, Racism and Reality

I am humbled by the responses to last week’s Musing. I asked for readers to participate in a conversation and you did. I truly appreciate the kind words from many of you and I am grateful for those who affirmed, gently chided, and wrote so passionately and eloquently. Race is an emotional topic and as a country (and a world) we need to feel comfortable speaking openly. I encourage you all to read the comments; it will be a good use of your time. (I have a culture gap admission to make here: the first comment which used the letters AA had me scratching my head trying to figure out what Alcoholics Anonymous had to do with the topic. It took a bit of pondering to realize that it stood for African American.)

Rather than quoting from and responding directly to your comments, I’d like to continue the dialogue…READ MORE

Trial by Mouth – originally published Jan. 28, 2009

February 13th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

Celebrity endorsements can mean a great deal to a company. So we thought it a tremendous coup when Illinois Governor (though probably not for long) Blagojevich give an unsolicited plug for our audio CD, Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak.

After all, while the governor is not being impeached for his vulgar language, I have to think that it impedes his attempt to portray himself as an innocent, wronged victim when the tapes that (allegedly) implicate him in criminal activity have every second word bleeped out. Fair or not, I know that I am less likely to give the benefit of the doubt to someone whose mouth needs a good scrubbing.

 While neglecting to mention the name of the product – you get what you pay for, as Governor Blagojevich well knows- he made a very strong case for our teaching. In interviews this week, he acknowledged that his foul language harmed his wife as well as noting how difficult it is to control such a loathsome habit.

So, some companies employ athletes like Michael Phelps to represent them while others prefer Hollywood stars like Jennifer Anniston. As for Rabbi Daniel Lapin productions, we think that Governor Blagojevich is an outstanding case study of why everyone needs to hear Perils of Profanity, and proof of the good you can do by giving it to any young adult you care about.
Rather than paying a celebrity endorsement fee, we’d like to offer the governor some advice. In one interview he said:

“Had I known somebody was listening, I wouldn’t have used language like that.”

Well governor, in the future you would do well knowing that somebody is hearing each word you utter, for He is always listening.


High School Confusion

February 1st, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 3 comments

When I first read the headline online, the article “Dallas Teen Fined $637 for Foul Mouth” seemed to be required reading for me. Unfortunately, after finishing the piece, I was utterly confused.  While the original $340 fine was substantially increased when the student failed to appear for a hearing, it seems that the teen-ager, teacher, principal and school resource officer (whatever that is) all accepted the basic premise of levying a fine as punishment for using an expletive in the classroom.

The article was quite frustrating. If the reported facts are accurate, I was left with numerous unanswered questions. Is this public school such a bastion of etiquette that this utterance was so unusual? In that case, the cursing is of much less interest than how the school runs a modern educational establishment with a 1920’s code of conduct. On the other hand, if the profanity-laced language heard in high schools around the country is routinely voiced and fined in this school, then this center of learning seems to hold the answer to the country’s education budget crisis. The report mentions the student acknowledging her crime and getting a job to pay the fine. No parents protesting, no First-Amendment lawyers involved; just fuller school coffers.

I also didn’t understand a line in the article stating that the fine was levied partially because a teacher was offended by the language. If a different teacher sees profanity as a healthy expression of self, is cursing in her class o.k.? And if one teacher finds cilantro offensive, how much does a student bringing it for lunch get fined? Does this school run on an offender/offended basis?

When I looked up the North Mesquite school on Wikipedia, I found this information, “All students in North Mesquite are required to dress according to a standardized dress code (similar to a prison uniform) as of 2005.”  Do the teens walk around in orange jumpsuits? All in all, things just seem to be ‘curiouser and curiouser.’

I have no idea what the actual story is. As my children will attest, I have an extremely low tolerance for profanity. I produced an audio CD that helps teens and adults recognize the harm they do to their romantic and financial lives when using foul language. It even provides guidance for breaking the habit. But, while I detest profanity personally as well as believing that it negatively affects a society’s quality of life, I also have a low tolerance for reporters who write articles that leave one confused. If any of you know more about this story, I’d love to hear from you.


Over 21 Only

December 21st, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings 6 comments

Film critic Roger Ebert is proposing that since today’s youth are regularly exposed to profanity, sex and violence, the Motion Picture Association of America should revamp the movie rating system. Aside from the easy availability of anything and everything on computers, he correctly says that with multiplex cinemas it is simple to buy a ticket for one PG-13 rated show and head to an R rated one instead. In his words, “It’s time to get pragmatic about this.”

Perhaps our reaction to these facts should be exactly the opposite. After all, I don’t see proposals floated to admit that we’ve lost the war on obesity and should stop trying to do anything about it. I haven’t seen the argument made that we should simply acknowledge that Americans do not have an educational system that compares with many other countries around the world and rather than try to improve, we should just change requirements for graduation. We certainly didn’t shrug our shoulders about cigarette consumption a few decades ago and let it be. 

Like obesity or illiteracy, being exposed to gratuitous sex, profanity and violence, particularly at a young age, causes damage. I dare say there are enough social scientists and studies that could supply data to support that claim. If that is the case, perhaps we should indeed change the ratings, but in the opposite direction of what Mr. Ebert suggests. Perhaps, like alcohol, more movies should be restricted to an over 21 group. Then, just as happens in stores that sell liquor, government agents could send minors to buy movie tickets and fine theaters that neglect to ask for ID. To stop multiplex hopping, we could legislate that theatres that want to cater to the under 21 crowd cannot at the same time offer any restricted movies. We could draw the lines more firmly, not less.

Actually, those are terrible ideas. I’d like to see less government intrusion in our lives, not more. However, I do think it is valid to ask why as a society, we’re supposed to “get pragmatic” about some things while micro-managing others. If government involvement is required so that you can’t buy a soda without knowing how many calories are in it, why should it be excluded from other areas? Somehow the movie industry is immune to government tinkering. When businesses outsource because costs are less, newspapers castigate them as selfish and evil. Do studios make movies in Canada to avoid paying union salaries? Silence reigns.

Factories use power in order to produce their goods and TV shows expose them as ‘evil polluter’ However, I never hear rebuke of TV and movie production which possess carbon footprints bigger than King Kong’s.

We seem eerily comfortable with government intrusion into our lives under the guise of protecting our bodies, but we are inexplicably uncomfortable when that protection touches a moral issue. If a fifteen year-old gets into a liquor store, you’d think the sky fell in. If the same child gets into an NC-17 movie theater, well; that’s just reality.

Teen pregnancies, eating disorders, cutting, bullying and assorted other ills are not unrelated to a culture that the entertainment industry promotes. These phenomena have real impact on people’s lives, just as diabetes or cancer do. They impact our economy as well. If legislation is valid to ban cigarette advertising in magazines or to get soft drinks out of high schools, then rather than saying, as Mr. Ebert does, “It’s time to admit we’ve lost our innocence,” maybe movies need to be targeted by the regulatory gun just as much as other businesses.

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