I recently shared on my official Facebook page a blog post I penned about how ridiculous it was that Iowa and New Hampshire have so much power in determining our presidential candidates. Our primary process is stupid and unfair, and that goes for both Democrats and Republicans.
Of course, comments spiraled into the typical “all Republicans are evil morons” and “all Democrats are crazy libtards” kind of useless comments in which they each try to own each other with simplistic insults — none of which had anything to do with the point of the post, which I suspect very few of them actually read. Last I checked, the back-and-forth numbered more than 150.
None of that was really shocking. However, these folks poking at each other made me do something on my official Facebook page that I’d never had to do before — install a profanity filter. Normally I’m willing to let a few F-bombs and such slide in the comments, but it was getting out of hand. The language was getting more vulgar even than you might hear in a 7th-grade boys locker room, only with less maturity and fewer valid points.
I literally had to pick out some specific dirty words to put into the filter. I didn’t want to get too broad because Facebook is pretty stupid when it comes to general moderation. It’s almost as bad as when I was in the newspaper business and an outdoors reporter couldn’t get his story to upload into the system from a remote assignment because he was writing about how a hurricane had blown the “blue-footed booby” out of its normal area and into ours. It took us a while to figure out we had a booby problem.
In selecting certain words to filter, I first thought about George Carlin’s infamous “Seven Dirty Words” and added those. (I had to Google them because I didn’t remember all seven.) I needed to filter more than seven, though, so I thought of other sources — such as places Donald Trump might brag about grabbing on women or things that I might yell from the confines of my pickup truck when folks don’t understand the word “yield.” I haven’t played golf in a few years, but when I was a regular, my scorecards should have come with one of those explicit language stickers.
It’s not that I’m offended by dirty words, but I’ve found that folks who use them incessantly or as a crutch come off as less intelligent and bring the conversation level down. There is a time and a place, of course, where they might actually add to the discourse or an artistic endeavor. But not all the time. And I generally side with freedom of speech as much as possible, but everything has its limits.
And some things just become tiresome. I used to find comedian Kevin Hart funny, but he now has fallen into the crutch of using vulgarity in lieu of humor. While folks like Carlin and Richard Pryor were pushing boundaries in the 1970s when they needed to be pushed, Hart employs a tired modus operandi. Likewise with Matt Rife, who I also find woefully tiring.
Some comedians are able to use profanity occasionally to emphasize points — something that folks like Bill Maher and Sebastian Maniscalco do well. Then there are comedians like Nate Bargatze, Leanne Morgan and Jim Gaffigan, three of the funnier folks out there today. I found them funny and original and didn’t even notice until later that they were doing it without leaning on vulgarity as a crutch. They rely on their talent.
Again, there are movies, songs, TV shows, and other performances that would not be as good if they were cleaned up for all to enjoy. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is often pretty vulgar, yet funny. So are many other shows. As with most things, there is a time and a place. With a lot of today’s rap music, the time and place is apparently all the $@#&%!-ing time.
Thanks to a few folks who can’t control themselves in a public forum, that place will no longer be in the comments on my Facebook page.
However, feel free to post all you want about blue-footed boobies. You won’t ruffle my feathers.