EDITORIAL NOTE: Ted Carr, who worked in the tech industry during some its most exciting years, retired about six years ago. He now hosts a podcast called Retirement Journeys – Real-Life Experience that Informs, Engages and Inspires and in February, he invited me to be a guest on his show.
We had a wonderful time talking about growing old, ageism, retirement, my career before that and much more. Ted has now posted the podcast at his website which you can listen to here. It's about 21 minutes long and there are more such podcasts you might find interesting.
Thank you, Ted. I am pleased and honored to have been asked.
Every now and then, Crabby Old Lady has been known to publish words in these pages that in her youth were never said in “polite company” and certainly not used in newspapers and magazines targeting general audiences.
When TimeGoesBy was new, back in 2004 and for some years beyond, she would never use “dirty words” any more than The New York Times or the Washington Post or The New Yorker would do so those days.
But time passes, tastes change and those venerable publications along with TGB sometimes allow such “profanities” as shit, fuck, cock, etc.
Crabby is certain that those titans of mainstream print have codified editorial guidelines for the approved use of such informal language. Crabby? She just goes with what feels right at the moment. Quotations, of course, are acceptable. And on rare occasions – particularly when a politician has said something exceptionally stupid or loathsome – she'll let fly a “What the fuck.”
What Crabby can be sure of when she does that is that a cluster of unsubscribe notices will arrive indicating “offensive” as the reason for canceling. So be it.
A week ago, in his monologue, Late Night host Stephen Colbert ran afoul of people with similar pristine sensibilities and before the show ended, #firecolbert was trending on Twitter.
Here is his transgression prompted by President Trump having dissed Colbert's CBS coworker, John Dickerson:
Crabby is pretty sure you can figure out what he said. If not, here is how Inside Edition published the remark on their website including their coy abbreviation:
“You attract more skinheads than Rogaine... You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign language gorilla who got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is for Vladimir Putin’s c*** holster."
The usual suspects, mostly those of the conservative persuasion, erupted as expected and it didn't take long for FCC Chairman Agit Pai (you know, the guy who wants to gut net neutrality so the big internet providers can make more money) to threaten Colbert with “appropriate action.”
”The FCC's response will depend on whether Colbert’s remarks are considered 'obscene,'” Pai said according to The Hill.
“'We are going to take the facts that we find and we are going to apply the law as it’s been set out by the Supreme Court and other courts and we’ll take the appropriate action,” [Pai] told Talk Radio 1210 WPHT Thursday.
“'Traditionally, the agency has to decide, if it does find a violation, what the appropriate remedy should be,' he said. 'A fine, of some sort, is typically what we do.'”
To do that, the FCC will need to meet the U.S. Supreme Court's test for obscenity and blah, blah, blah.
All this had Crabby Old Lady assuming that, based on nothing more than conventional wisdom and her experience with blog unsubscribers, old people are a large percentage of those taking umbrage with Colbert's somewhat unusual choice of words.
But maybe not. A quick (very quick, no big-time research involved) trip around the internet turned up this, for example, from a 2011 report about a then-new Broadway show. From the New York Post [their abbreviations, not mine]:
”Standing under the marquee for Broadway smash The Book of Mormon, 92-year-old theatergoer Gloria Lewis is shocked by the musical she just saw. Packed with profane lyrics, such as 'F – – – you, God, in the a – -, mouth and c – – – ’' and characters with names like 'General Butt-F – – – ing Naked,' you can hardly blame the sweet little old lady for being a bit ruffled.
“But Lewis isn’t agitated in any negative sense. In fact, she’s blown away by the 14-time Tony-nominated musical, which is drawing enthusiastic, raving crowds of seniors just like her nightly.
“Very brilliant!” says the feisty senior citizen from Queens, who is a retired investigator for the Department of Labor and laughs in the face of anyone who thinks she or either of her octogenarian pals might be offended by the language.
“As her girlfriends, 85 and 88, smile and giggle by her side, Lewis says matter-of-factly: 'F – – – is a very common word today. Offended? Not at all.'”
Last fall, Stanford University published a widely reported study titled Frankly, We Do Give a Damn on the relationship between profanity and honesty. The researchers concluded:
"On the one hand, profane individuals are widely perceived as violating moral and social codes, and thus deemed untrustworthy and potentially antisocial and dishonest.
"On the other hand, profane language is considered as more authentic and unfiltered, thus making its users appear more honest and genuine.
"These opposing views on profanity raise the question of whether profane individuals tend to be more or less dishonest..."
"We found a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty; profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level, and with higher integrity at the society level."
The study did not differentiate among age groups but Crabby Old Lady now feels free to assert that when she lets loose a long string profane invective after having banged a toe or includes a mild “what the fuck” on this blog in reference to a latest political idiocy, she is being authentic, genuine and honest.
Anyone who disagrees is free to unsubscribe.
Meanwhile, last Wednesday, Stephen Colbert issued on his show, a non-apology while including an acknowledgement to the overly sensitive who believed his original comedic tirade was homophobic. (Oh please):
And so go the culture wars. What do you think?