Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pigmeat Did It!! (Yeah, but he was funny)

There was a time when smokers enjoyed free range to smoke anywhere and every where they chose. If nonsmokers didn't like ti, they had one choice: Move. Then, we passed laws that banned smoking in public places, and individually, we became emboldened - we challenged smokers.
Before being challenged many smokers were oblivious to the discomfort they caused others. It was all about them. Today, a lot of smokers still don't care; but we do. The surgeon general says we have good reason to care: Second-hand smoke is hazardous to our health.
Comes another scourge: public profanity. During the 50's and 60's, when smokers were suave and debonair, we frowned upon public profanity - considered it the refuge of the vulgar and ill-bred. Now that we have closed the door on smoking in public places, we seem to have opened it wider for profanity. It is not that profanity doesn't bother people; it does. (Nothing worse can come from our mouths than profane and vulgar language. It is like someone farting in a room. It does not affect our physical health like second-hand smoke, but it deeply affects our sensibilities.) Rather, something is going missing in our lives when we surrender the air we breathe to men who would defile it.
There is a time and place for raunchy language. It was funny when Redd Foxx and Rudy Raymore did it; and Pigmeat Markham split our sides when he made his stand in nightclubs and on "XX-rated" party albums. Heard of "Petey Wheatstraw", "Dolomite", and "Shine, Shine, save poor me..."? Those were the albums your fathers brought out only when the earthiest company dropped by, and then, only after the children had been safely tucked away. Now people curse like Pigmeat over morning coffee. (They must think it makes them funny, too.) Let me be blunt, fart-mouths: You are not nearly so funny as you are offensive.
Profanity is no less toxic today than second-hand smoke was 50 years ago. We didn't need scientists then, and we don't need sociologist now to tell us that . We simply need the guts to say, "Do you mind? I'm living here."

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