Mr. Decker, you say that swearing is “a valuable element of human communication” [“Sordid Tales,” March 19]. Does that mean you wouldn't be able to express yourself clearly and intelligently without using profanity? Perhaps letting loose with a string of cusswords makes you feel better, but does it really aid in communication? Maybe it's just a sign of a weak vocabulary and a lack of self-control.
You say that by advocating a cussword-free environment, young McKay Hatch is making himself vulnerable to attacks by his classmates. Are you saying that, for the sake of his own safety, he should keep his mouth shut and go along with the crowd? Perhaps you are right and he is making himself vulnerable by speaking out against cussing. Would you have told Dr. King to ease up on civil-rights demonstrations, because he might get himself hurt?
You say that swear words are “just words.” That's a surprising comment coming from someone who makes his living with “just words.” Is there not power in words?
You encourage parents to teach their kids to curse. Wouldn't it be better to teach them to think, and express themselves in a clear, articulate manner without resorting to profanity every time they get emotional or can't think of a more appropriate word?
I was surprised to hear you say that your “obscenity etiquette” dictates that kids shouldn't curse in front of adults. If it's OK for them to cuss with their peers, why shouldn't it be OK to cuss anywhere, anytime?
I must admit that I agree with you when you say that cussing should be done in moderation (if it's done at all). It tends to lose its effect when overdone.
Has it ever crossed your mind, Edwin, that you might be addicted to cussing? I challenge you to go without cussing, not for a whole week, but just one whole day. Are you up to it?
David Schmiedeberg,Mira Mesa
Fun for free
Today, I read Enrique Limon's “The best things in life” [“Cover Story,” April 2] on the edge of my seat. The “no-cost” mention on the cover caught my eye because, well, I am a jobless, broke kid from East County. Paying gas to go anywhere worthwhile is hard enough, so the article was a big help.
I am proud to say I just got home from the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art's Thursday Night Thing! With a show from the Ex-Friends, it was the highlight of my week so far.
This article changed my life. I will no longer be sad and pathetic wasting away at home because I have no dough to spend on the frivolous fun adolescence should hold. Thanks to Enrique Limon, I could fill a whole week with priceless (no pun intended) fun! Next on my list is either lawn bowling or folk-dancing lessons.
The civilian carnage
Yes, Carl, attacks on small countries can be costly in many ways you note and some you don't [“The Front Lines,” March 19]. The documented civilian body count in Iraq is nearing 100,000. The well-respected Lancet report estimates 650,000 killed since the invasion. And the U.N. says that 500,000 Iraqi children died because of sanctions that Clinton initiated. One million-plus deaths—now, that is costly!
Why, then, do Americans, even many on the left, focus on the nearly 4,000 U.S. troops killed and 30,000 wounded—certainly a tragedy in its own right—when the carnage suffered by Iraqis is so much greater? We did the same after Vietnam. One so often sees the figure of 52,000 troops killed—again, a tragedy for sure—but not the 2 million or more Vietnamese civilians sacrificed in that war. I was recently at an anti-war vigil for the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, where, again, the measure of the war was simply expressed in American deaths. To truly grasp the consequences of a U.S. war, we must go beyond the metrics of dollars spent and troops killed and wounded and confront our responsibility for the civilian carnage.
Some of this reticence, I suspect, is because the wars do not happen at home and do not affect most Americans directly. Some comes from a national ignorance about U.S. imperialism. Whenever I tally up the consequences of war, I start with the cost to innocent civilians. I wish this practice were adopted by the rest of us, the clergy and media included. Maybe then more of us would become active in the anti-war effort, and, even more importantly, we would protest before we are dragged into another unjust war.
Charlie Pratt,University City
I loved Edwin Decker's April 2 “Sordid Tales” column “Tranophobia blues.” He's a really great writer, and we share similar points of view: especially because I was a Goth kid (well, hell, I dressed Goth up until sometime last year) and my dad always “gave me shit.”
As I grew older, I later learned it was not because he was a homophobe or a guy-wearing-makeup-phobe; it was because he was worried about things that would happen to me—like people wanting to beat me up (happened), getting harassed by cops (happened), not getting a promotion because of the way I looked (happened two years ago), people not taking me seriously (happened in last year's election in Pasadena), etc.
Hey, it took me until I was nearly 26-and-a-half years old, but my dad's advice was right.
Besides, Supernanny is crapvision.
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