Yesterday, I went to the dentist for the first time in two and a half years (don’t judge me), and even though it’s been so long, I really am a stickler about my teeth. I am one of those weird people who flosses all the time. I floss at my desk (sorry coworkers). I have floss in my hand bag for the on-the-go floss (sorry general public). And floss in basically every room in my house (sorry dogs, houseplants). Needless to say that when my dentist told me I have seven cavities, I uttered an expletive.Sometimes a curse word is the only thing that comes to mind when you hear terrible news (like seven cavities), or when you stub your toe on your bed in the dark for the millionth time, or when you’re yelling at the TV because the stupid girl in the horror movie you’re watching has decided to run up the stairs instead of out the front door when she’s being chased by an axe-wielding murderer. Sometimes "darn" just doesn’t seem to cut it.
Students at Lott Middle School in Mobile, Alabama don’t agree with me. They would be as horrified as my dentist if they heard the way I talk. In fact, they have formed a no cursing club in their school that recently, successfully appealed to the Mobile County Commission to declare Valentine’s Day a county wide no cursing day. Clearly, these students didn’t read my blog about standing in line at Whole Foods!
Members of the no cursing club claim that cursing can be threatening, and that hurling profanity at someone is a form of bullying that often leads to more violent behavior. I must admit that this makes sense, and I’m starting to realize why my dentist was backing slowly away from me as she said the words “root canal.”
In the current climate of often bitter and bipartisan politics, students at Lott Middle School’s anti cursing movement seem to have their fingers on the pulse of a greater issue affecting the nation. One county commissioner explained that she wasn’t concerned as much with the curse words, but with the decline of civility in general. If by definition, civility is politeness; she’s right. Cursing doesn’t exactly qualify.
Is cursing a gateway to more violent behavior? Have We, the People gotten meaner? Is it even important to be civil and nice when trying to work out an issue? Or is a little passion warranted, especially in politics where so much is at stake?
On March 26-27, the National Constitution Center will host an interactive, interdisciplinary forum and workshop titled “Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America.”
Conference participants, drawn from such fields as history, political philosophy, political science, law, sociology, journalism, and communications, will explore the answers to these questions through both the historical and contemporary context of civility, dissent, and democracy.
I must say that I’m looking forward to where the experts weigh in on the civility and democracy issue, because for my part, civility and dentistry is a tough sell. So maybe I exposed my dentist to my colorful vocabulary, and maybe I dropped to my knees right there in her office screaming, “Whyyyyy God? Whyyyy?” Not exactly civil, it’s true. But really. Can you blame me? Seven cavities!
Photo by: FunnyBiz