Monday, February 10, 2014

Ignorance...Apathy...or Arrogance?

I follow sports for what I consider the proper reason: They are a pleasant diversion from life’s everyday annoyances—from things like car payments, health issues, bank balances, income tax, political correctness, the shrinking waistband on my trousers…

I don’t follow (listen to, watch, or read about) sports for lessons in life. And certainly not for updates on what is and is not proper social behavior. So I became annoyed (infuriated actually) when I recently heard a 28-year old sports commentator (who by the way, has been on Earth less than half the time I’ve been following sports) make the blasé declaration that, “We’re not offended by that anymore,” while referring to the use of profanity in a public forum.

Really? We are not offended? Who the hell is “we” in his absolute affirmation? Was he referring to our society in general? Was it sports fans in particular? Was he perhaps singling out 20-something-year-olds, for whom he obviously (thinks he) is the spokesman?

His remark was made in objection to a penalty levied by the National Basketball Association on a player for shouting the profanity de rigueur, politely called the ‘f-word’, not once, but multiple times (to anyone who would listen, I guess) during a well-attended game.

Neophyte adults such as this Harvard graduate (Could the banter around that campus cafeteria be any worse than that heard in a military chow-hall?) often seem to make the mistake of believing that anything happening before their birth (indeed, before their cognizance) should be relegated to pre-history. Using that reasoning, I suppose I must accept his view (elsewise I might offend him).

So I suppose I could casually babble that language in his presence, or that of his wife, mother, sister, grandmother, daughter, or anyone he values, since, “He is not offended by that anymore.”

If the f-word does not offend him, what does? The n-word?  The s-word?  The q-word?  The c-word?  The r-word?  The m-word?

How about the a-word? Oh, hell…I’m just going to say it: The kid is arrogant! He must actually believe that his sensibilities set the standard for society…for sports fans…for 20-something-year-olds…

He certainly does not speak for most of the 20-somethings I interact with. (Of course, none attended Harvard.)

This is not the first time I’ve been resolute on this topic, and it’s not the first time that I’ve qualified my opinion by citing my résumé: After four years in the military and 22 years in the Philadelphia Police Department, I doubt there’s any expletive a novice could come up with that I haven’t heard, imagined, or broadcast myself.

Yet the motive for an obscenity remains the same throughout history—all human history, not just what a youthful sportscaster acknowledges: Whether uttered in anger, fear, confusion, anxiety, or jocularity; it is most certainly always uttered in ignorance.

And sometimes arrogance.