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the Gauntlet

Understanding over ignorance

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For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. To most of us, it is simply a stellar Van Halen album from the post-Diamond Dave era. However, it has been brought to my attention that some unsavoury characters have taken to using this acronym in a less than Christian context.

These monsters of dialect distortion have been using the word to refer to perhaps the most un-holy of all activities. The very mention of such events using Satan's slang is sure to be the thin edge of the wedge that has been driven between our great enlightened past and the soon to be end of time.

Yeah, that's the way all those For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge-ing moral magicians have been spinning it. For the last couple of months, it seems the crackdown on what is acceptable and what isn't has taken centre stage as communication folk try to decide what society simply should not hear or see. From BoobGate at the Super Bowl to BoobGate: Reloaded (cracked-up Courtney Love), the Moral War surges forward, all in the name of "the children."

Language, spoken words in particular, should in all likelihood be such a moot point that nobody would bother hold us to such high standards. Emotions can be expressed with such intensity through non-verbal expression, as well in the tone of one's voice, that its verbal form is an afterthought.

I'll bet most people can remember their parents simply uttering their name with a menacing look and a piercing tone that could send kids running. The message was crystal clear. With an endless supply of slang meanings for verbal expressions, it would seem trivial to argue over a word here or there.

I remember discovering the proverbial "F-word" in the second grade. I had no idea what it meant, but I used it all the time. It was great. When I found out what it actually meant, in the fifth grade, everyone was on the bandwagon. A legion of 11-year-olds who wouldn't hesitate to say "you-know-what" to anyone. How awful! I bet we all turned out to be alcoholics on unemployment insurance just waiting to collapse society.

Why has all this fuss been made of late about the words we use? Perhaps there are some people who are seeking an explanation for what they see as a tear in the fabric of society.

"Too many single mothers, using televisions as babysitters, we should teach civics in school, not enough abstinence classes, blah, blah, blah."

You can just hear Pat Robertson leading up to the part of the show where you call in to give money.

However, just about everyone will curse now and then. Even Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry did in a published interview in Rolling Stone.

I was shocked when watching Hockey Night in Canada last week to see my econometrics professor, Dr. Atkins, in a commercial for Toyota. This shock was second only to the look on my face when he first dropped a few expletives on us during lecture.

I survived. Barely. Class continued, thank goodness.

Suppose in some horrible scenario that children did hear Howard Stern or Bono say something off colour. Would it be so awful if children then repeated it and had their parents scold them and explain to them why it is inappropriate to use some words? That seems better than pretending those words don't exist.

As a positive externality, maybe you would open up a difficult dialogue with your kids, and maybe you would find that they will listen to you in the future. Maybe when you talk to them about sex, drugs or something that can actually affect their futures, they might actually take your advice.

It's easy for me to take this viewpoint. I am not yet directly responsible for raising any children. But until then, everyone who is so offended by a couple little words might as well go For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge themselves.

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