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Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's Not What You Say That Counts...

Up Periscope.

I’ve been on radio silence for a few days, weighted down by work and world events. For distraction as I troll along with the other bottom feeders, I’ve been reminiscing about a TV game show from my youth hosted by Tom Kennedy. It’s slogan: “It’s not what you say that counts. It’s what You Don’t Say.”

It got me to thinking about the nature of words. Two in particular. They’re phrases really: ‘The F-word’ and ‘The N-word.’ I don’t have to explain them. You know what they mean.

But here’s the puzzlement: With all the words in the English language how did these two terms become ‘the words that dare not speak their name’?

Whenever the ban began, I have no doubt that threats of FCC fines keep it firmly in place.

Yet as inflammatory as these unspeakable words themselves are considered to be, they’re hardly absent from the Vox Populi. Media people gleefully bandy about the self-regulated, family-friend phrases “the F-word’ and ‘the N-word’ with surprising frequency. If these words are so awesome in their evil power that we dare not speak their names…

Dare we speak their NICKnames?

Could uttering nothing more than the first letter of these words be harming our weakest citizens? And what about the children?

For a while, the B-word (the one that rhymes with rich) looked as though it might achieve banned status. But it’s back. And it’s resurfaced in that most likely of places: the political arena. I’m sure you heard it. It was put out for all the world to hear…and John McCain to laugh at.

AND it was uttered – spat out, really -- by a woman: B-I-T-C-H.

Now what would have happened if the questioner had used another hot-button word to describe Hilary Clinton. The one that rhymes with stunt. And what if Smiling John had laughed then? Would I have awakened on Sunday morning to hear Pat Buchanan and the other pundits discussing ‘the C-word’ with Tim Russert?

God only knows what the Bill O’Reilly would add as a visual to his discussion!

My head hurts just thinking about this stuff.

Down Periscope.

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