The increase in the use of profanity on television is not my imagination. The Parents Television Council did a study in 2011 and found that the amount and gravity of profanity on television is higher than ever. One reason had to do with a FCC ruling in July 2010. Basically, a panel of judges allowed broadcasters to freely use expletives in the late night hours when challenged in court. Networks pressured the FCC to stop enforcing its decency laws. One result: More profane language during the prime time hours. The study showed that the use of profanity is deliberate and pervasive.
My question is, why? What’s the point of this… to teach our kids to have potty-mouths?
Is this an attempt to desensitize the culture to rudeness? And what is the fall out of that?
People are influenced by what they hear and see on television, especially teenagers. Due to media influence, swearing has moved from a language of restraint to one of license. It has becomes part of the normal landscape of television. This has something to do with the lack of civility that we continue to see in our culture.
P.M. Forni, co-founder of the Civility Project at Johns Hopkins University, seems to agree. When it comes to cursing, he says it is “still the language of aggression… the precursor to violence. Very often, rudeness and cursing are the beginning of an escalation toward violence. Words, our words, are like our hands. They can soothe and heal, but they can also strike, which means they can hurt.”
Furthermore, a study in Pediatrics linked profanity to increased violence. Researchers found that exposure to profanity is moderately associated with acceptance and use. Both influence physical and relational aggression.
Bottom line, profanity is not harmless. If the end result is less civility and more aggression, why do we want this, and why are writers and media executives so bent on injecting profanity in so much media?
Scripture is not silent about the use of our tongue. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
The question is, do we want to tear down or edify with our speech? Seems like the choice is an easy one.
Dr. Linda Mintle is the winner of the Mom’s Choice Award for her book, Raising Healthy Kids in an Unhealthy World (Thomas Nelson, 2008).