So, I don’t have a lot of time to write this weekly rant, so it won’t be the gigantic behemoth you had to sit through last week.
As a side note, I’ve already gone off topic because I have to comment on the fact that I just used “gigantic behemoth” to describe last week’s column while in the same sentence warning you all that I have limited time to convey my opinions. Add to that this paragraph is clearly longer and only serves to warn you all that even though I’m sharing my opinions, this very rant is contradictory in that I’m not taking my own advice.
I was at a town council meeting a few weeks ago and there was a resident that expressed his concern around a political sign that used a swear word. The sign said something along the lines of “Sassafras Joe Biden.”
I think we can all understand that it wasn’t “Sassafras” but something far, far worse. Unless you like sassafras. In that case… oh well?
Anyway, the resident was asking the town council to do something about removing the sign. Not because of the Joe Biden part though, because of the usage of that swear word. Unfortunately, the town council couldn’t do anything about it since it’s “Freedom of Expression.” Add that it’s roughly in a political nature and it’s even harder to get rid of.
Now, some of you might try and call me out as a hypocrite, especially since this column will most likely be as large as last weeks, because I use vulgar words in my own books. You’d be right. I have used and will most likely continue to use vulgarity in my creative works. I have absolutely no qualms about what content you want to include in your books/films/TV shows/radio shows/etc…
Here’s the thing. If I’m reading a book by James Patterson and start to get offended, I can close the book and not ever have to open it again. If I’m watching the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Captain America is shouting obscenities, I can walk out of the theatre. If Rusty from WTCA starts talking about how much he hates Will Ferrell, I can switch radio stations. If the newest She-Hulk offends my fragile masculinity, I can switch to Netflix.
If my neighbor decides to put a sign out on his/her yard that reads “Sassafras Joe Biden” and I’m offended by it, I cannot simply avoid the sign. I can’t drive down another street because I don’t want to have to read the sign when I drive past. It’s right there, unavoidable.
I don’t have children, which is probably for the best. But if I did, I wouldn’t want to live in a neighborhood where it was acceptable to put signs up with vulgarity on it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable having a birthday party for my impressionable 3-year-old and inviting his/her friends to the party. Would the parents show up knowing that my neighbor has the sign up? What if the kids started saying “sassafras” all the time and I become that parent?
I don’t think it’s fair to parents to have to explain what “sassafras Joe Biden” means to their children. It’s taking away the parent’s right to educate their children on things of that nature. Imagine if I walk up to your child and tell them to read “IT” by Stephen King. Would you want to explain to them all of the things inside that book? I would imagine that I’d have a lot of complaints from those parents. Parents should be able to educate their children how and when they want to. Let’s not open the issue of educational topics in schools because this column is already going longer than expected and because parents have the option to move their children to other school systems if they don’t like the current education system.
Last week I said I’ve grown into a curmudgeon of an old man. I’m going to double down on that claim this week by saying, back in my day we wouldn’t have seen signs like that. In fact, verbiage like that wasn’t a common thing in the public. And I’m only 36-years-old. Did you know that in 1968, Paul Robert Cohen was convicted of disturbing the peace for wearing a jacket with the slogan “Sassafras the Draft”. The conviction was upheld by the court of appeals and overturned by the Supreme Court in Cohen v. California. In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the public display of “Sassafras” is protected under the First and Fourteenth amendments and cannot be made a criminal offense. The first usage of the word “sassafras” in a major American studio film was (according to Wikipedia) in M*A*S*H (1970).
Politically, I side on the middle of the road. I admit it, I’m a fence sitter. So, to be fair, Donald Trump has been on the receiving end of the “sassafras”. Robert De Niro said, “I’m gonna say one thing: Sassafras Trump” during the 72nd Tony Awards.
Plus, there are other words you can say to express your thoughts about the current president. “Let’s Go Brandon” is a popular one. I would rather have that on a sign rather than “Sassafras Joe Biden.”
It’s inevitable folks. Vulgar words are becoming more prevalent in society. Give it a few years and they’ll cease to be considered vulgar. Is that a good thing? Personally, I don’t like signs that attack people. I didn’t like it when Americans would say “Trump’s not my president.” Because he was. I also don’t like it when people say, “Sassafras Joe Biden.”
You may not like your elected leaders. I don’t like some of them. However, it’s disrespectful to say things like “sassafras.” It’s disrespectful to that particular person, but it’s also disrespectful to your neighbors, town, and the people that visit your community. They shouldn’t be forced to read that vulgarity.
Okay, so this column failed on two goals I had for it.
1. Not to be a “gigantic behemoth”
2. Not to be overly opinionated and political.
Well, it seems that I seriously “sassafras”ed things up. Originally, I was going to write something about word choice, but it seems this happened. I guess the moral of the story is that old adage of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Categories: Mastering the Craft