Our society’s obsession with cursing and foul language shows up as both a prissy objection to it, as well as a rejection of that standard by free use of such language. Yet even those who approve of cursing get tired of hearing someone use the f-word as verbal punctuation. The whole subject is fraught with cultural idiocy.
So it’s refreshing when we see someone actually study it with some academic rigor. We learn that most outbursts are just that — they arise from a different part of the brain than most normal speech. This is why people with Tourette’s syndrome can curse when they would really rather not.
The article also makes note of how slurs and insults fit into this whole picture. I do appreciate this bit:
Bergen does not think it wise to punish people for using slurs, as the NBA and NFL have done, or to ban or at least moderate their use, as the FCC tries to do. Rather, he advises that people who are tempted to use slurs be kinder and more respectful; conversely, those who hear them should relax and not always get so worked up. Legislation has not really worked to temper any kind of hate speech, so it is nice — although it seems naive — to think that Bergen’s common-sense approach could work.
Rule-making and legislation have no useful effect on slurs and insults (nor prejudice, for that matter), so get over it. But the article arises from Western culture and has no awareness of heart-led living, so the solution offered is pretty weak. If we bring in the heart-led factor, we discover the best way of handling this rather substantial problem is two-fold.
First, we need to discuss the nature of prejudice and what part it is meant to play in human nature. I’ve covered that before with discussing how we are hard-wired to be tribal and protective. When you make that “evil,” what’s left is racism and prejudice. It’s a serious flaw in our social mythology that rejects the utter necessity of tribal social structure. Let’s at least be aware of this issue. Then, second, we can pull that bundle of reactions out of the part of our brain that makes us blurt those things in raw emotional responses. All the artificial attempts to pull it out into rational processing have clearly failed, so let’s make it part of our moral processing, instead.
No, I am not the first person to see this, but if I tell you it comes from the Bible, most Western Christians will not be able to find it. My fellow heart-led believers who have read enough of the Bible will recognize it quickly.