No obscenities on Behind the Black


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I have stated this now bluntly more than a few times. I will not tolerate obscenities or curse words on this website. Despite this, today two different regular commenters thought it was perfectly fine to ignore these rules. One I have suspended for a week. The other might be.

The rest of the world might want to wallow in barbarism and ill behavior, but it will not happen here. This is my workplace. If you want to participate in the conversation on Behind the Black, I expect you to act like a civilized adult. If you can’t abide by these rules, then go somewhere else.

And don’t think it is okay to quote someone else verbatim and get away with this. As I noted just now in a reply to the suspended commenter, when Richard Nixon’s White House used the term [expletive deleted] everyone knew what it meant. It wasn’t a great solution, but it at least showed that they recognized that it was inappropriate to nonchalantly print obscenities, even ones spoken by the president. At the same time, they knew they couldn’t edit the transcripts, so they found a way to make it clear what was on the tapes without adding to the misbehavior.

Consider this a final warning. From now on I will not simply delete the obscenity and issue a warning. From now on, any violation of this rule will get an immediate suspension for a week. A second violation by the same person will get them banned.

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25 comments

  • Commodude

    Robert,

    Thank you. One of the reason I enjoy this site i the normally higher level of discourse here as compared to elsewhere in the morass of teh interwebz. I can find most of the articles posted here on my own, however, the ensuing discussion is what makes it enjoyable.

  • Ted

    Mr. Z.

    Thank you for NOT caving to the lowest common denominator. High standards are a welcome change from the drivel on most comment sights.

    Happy New Year!

  • Orion314

    Hear Hear!
    Happy New Year to all !!!!

  • Kevin

    Thanks , Mr. Zimmerman. Your site is one of the few places where I can get a sanity fix and see that there can be intelligence and standards , yet still have fun ! Science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle’s site was another, but he has passed on. Keep your powder dry !

  • Laurie

    Ditto – ‘cuss’ words don’t convey anything but ill manners, or worse.

  • Steve Earle

    Being a cop for the last 30 years I have heard every swear word known to man, and most of them were directed at me…. LOL

    I also know how to use them in various combinations and volume levels. In fact there were many times we were dealing with “communities” that couldn’t/wouldn’t follow instructions from an Officer unless the command was laced with several loud F-bombs :-D

    As much as I got used to it at work, I hated to hear it off-duty and I have been told by several people that I am one of the cleanest-speaking State Troopers they have ever met, after all there is truth to the old saying “swearing like a Trooper” :-)

    But I also don’t like seeing it in print. It’s annoying enough to hear it, but that is ephemeral, print is forever.

    And I’m also not sure why, but it’s much more jarring for me to see it printed where I am not expecting it. That’s why I cancelled my subscription to “Outside” Magazine several years ago. They apparently decided it was OK for their contributors to start using obscenities in many of their articles without giving their readers any warning. I guess they felt it made them more “edgy”…. I let them know their policy change was not OK with me…. :-(

  • wayne

    Steve-
    Good stuff.
    (We had an opiate-crisis mini-thread, going inside another post last week, I was hoping you’d maybe weigh in on that from a law-enforcement perspective, and you’re in New England, which is experiencing a definite problem. especially heroin. I’m sure you’ve seen it come-n-go in your career.)
    Ref the naughty words–
    It is amazingly Civil here, I’m sure we’d all agree. And this is Mr. Z.’s House, so if we want to play together, we need to keep a grip.
    – I’ve said some outrageous stuff here, not sure if I’ve sworn, but I have been warned. And that immediately raised the bar to me, at my end. I had to stop and think what the heck I was sayin’ and how I sounded to other people. Communication is amazingly non-verbal, but as Steve notes, ‘print is forever.’
    I delete far more than I actually upload here, (I’m sure that’s a relief to some people!) but if I find myself swearing about something, I probably shouldn’t be connected to the world at that point.

  • Phil Berardelli

    Hear hear, Bob.

  • Jan

    Your post stopped me cold. Both my husband and I have worked in an industry that is littered with ‘language’ you wouldn’t want to take home to your Mumma. It is easy enough to pick it up, since expletives are so commonplace in the Engineering field, particularly ours. Thus we both have had times where we have had to STOP and rethink our use (abuse) of this great language. You hear it all the time, you see it in writing, and there it is coming out of your mouth.

    We have now both decided that we will call each other out when we slip into that habit. As he says, it is ‘lazy’. If you can’t express yourself without filling your sentences with shock value words (which, really, have lost their shock value through overuse), you are losing your ability to communicate.

    Thanks for the post. You’ve re-inspirted us!

    Jan

  • Sayomara

    Steve Earle being a public teacher for the last 4 years I every swear word known to man as well only from kids 11-18 years old.

    Its not even an issue doing it to fight the system. It is the culture and any effort to fight that I think so good.

    I could also go on about the amount of autotune in modern music they listen too but will only say the autotune doesn’t help the profanity sound any better.

    Good work Bob holding the line.

  • Mitch S

    Reminds me of when Pres Reagan used the word “keister” to refer to his rear.
    The liberal press guffawed about what a fuddyduddy he was.
    And he always wore a jacket and tie in the Oval Office (needless to say he wore pants, but after Pres Clinton perhaps I should make it clear!).

    The person who observes decorum won’t be the “cool dude” but he’ll be the one people look to when the storm clouds loom on the horizon.

    And similarly the person who resorts to shouting will loose the argument in the minds of listeners even if his argument is stronger.
    That’s the issue I have with talkers such as Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. They may excite the choir but they won’t reach the undecided.

  • Laurie

    Just a quick addendum, for what it’s worth:

    Way (way) back in high school, a climate of derogatory one-upsmanship was pervasive amongst several of the (in particular) male students, generating and sustaining an uncomfortable degree of hostility. In that setting, a former English teacher of mine taught me that it is imperative not to infer hostility or insult where none is intended.

    With this in mind, I submit the hope a gracious attitude may prevail when any (or even all) may unintentionally give offense. Such ‘common sense’ is sorely wanting in our world today.

  • ken anthony

    Standards are important. So thank you sir, for having some. As Patton observed, vulgar language does have a place, but even that means it has no place otherwise. Vulgar being an interesting word as it is a synonym for common. Even Jesus said things that were vulgar in being offensive to many. “Eat my body” and “drink my blood” were extremely offensive to the jews of that day.

    I often question my own standards, so I am greatly appreciative when others express their standards as a measure for comparison. In principle I think anyone should be able to speak anyway and anyhow they like (and I would avoid them if I don’t like.) We are guests here and should act like it.

  • wayne

    Anyone a fan of Prof. Jordan Peterson?

    “Why We Curse ”
    Prof. Jordan Peterson
    https://youtu.be/kMnJO_r_vgw
    2:12

  • Garry

    We had a saying in the Marines: if you make every other word a cuss word, you’ll know that the Marines will understand at least half of what you say. I never subscribed to that view; my approach has always been that if you treat people as stupid, they’ll act that way accordingly, and I don’t much like working with people who act stupid.

    I admired a very modest, soft spoken Staff Sergeant in my unit who never swore (or drank or smoked), yet he was the one Marines listened to the hardest. The one time he did swear, they knew he was VERY upset, and within minutes every single Corporal and Sergeant in his platoon came in the office to apologize to him for letting him down.

    Our language got very salty after being on board ship for 8 months, with 5 of us (and all our gear) living in a room measuring about 12 by 12 feet. Two of my roommates hated the other 2 and vice versa, and our main way of letting of steam was a nightly card game we had modified to make it easier to gang up on people. We swore so much that when one played the game, one adopted a word that could be a direct object of everyone’s favorite verb (me, you, it, etc.); it helped us verbalize who we were to gang up on that game. Clearly that was a place for vulgarity as Patton mentioned; I think we would have had fistfights otherwise.

    I should note that we were all junior officers, and I for one restricted my swearing to the nightly card games in our room. We had a shower curtain instead of a door, and gave an earful to the higher ranking officers next to us (including the chaplain, who joined us in our card game often but didn’t swear).

    When we were headed home, we realized we needed to clean up our language, so we fined each other a quarter for every swear. In 2 weeks we collected over $100! We planned to throw a party with the money, but never got around to it.

    I generally keep my language clean, and when I swear people know I’m upset. I’ve done it too many times with my wife, though, and whenever I swear she tunes out everything I say and calls me childish. I guess it’s time to take a new approach, at least with her (it still works with my college age children).

    Thank you for having standards here; I’m not a fan of written swearing at all, with very few exceptions.

  • Steve Earle

    Wayne, I always hesitate to chime in on the so-called “Opioid Crisis”….. Depending on my feelings of the moment and which part of my experience I am drawing on at that time I can be very opinionated about drugs of all kinds and what exactly constitutes a “crisis”.

    And if it is in fact a crisis, what then should be done, or even more pertinent, what CAN be done. After all, from a Law Enforcement perspective what is the most effective action is often the least politically correct action.

    Having seen lots and lots of the worst behavior of the human race (as have you), I personally tend to hold people responsible for their own choices, even if that choice means awful things happen to them.

    The problem of course is that those awful things don’t just happen to them but also to those around them…. That is why I also tend to hold the enablers around addicts in even more contempt than the addict themselves.

    And it is also why I have come to look at every social issue now in terms of what it means to children, who are the most helpless and innocent victims of adult behaviour.

    Bottom line? If something (anything!) screws up homes and families, hurts kids in the moment and causes those kids to become screwed up adults that also hurt kids, then I start to want to lock people up and throw away the key…..

    Other than that I have no strong opinion on the matter LOL!

  • Jim Davis

    If something (anything!) screws up homes and families…

    Bob, it might be helpful if you give some indication of where you wish your line against vulgarity to be drawn. Something like “George Carlin’s seven dirty words will not be tolerated” or “if you wouldn’t use a word in church, don’t use it here”.

    The quote above demonstrates how quickly standards can change. When I was a kid the use of that word in the above context was vulgar and would never be heard on TV or radio and hardly any mass market print media. Today, it hardly raises an eyebrow, it’s origins as a euphemism for sexual intercourse forgotten by everyone below a certain age.

  • Jim Davis: No, I am not going to do what you suggest. I expect people to be adults. If you have any doubt about using a word, than you shouldn’t use it. Your example is a good one. That some words were once considered unacceptable but now aren’t shows how our society and culture has devolved.

    And I think it shameful that people want permission to push the limits of vulgarity, rather than celebrate the idea that vulgarity is not a good approach for civilized debate.

  • Aaron

    Mr. Zimmerman, I just increased my monthly donation. Keep up the good work. Semper Fi!

  • Aaron: I noticed and I thank you! It is appreciated quite deeply.

  • Steve Earle

    Robert Zimmerman said:

    “….Your example is a good one. That some words were once considered unacceptable but now aren’t shows how our society and culture has devolved….”

    I’m not sure how I feel being held up as an example of societal de-volution….. LOL!

    I never even gave a second thought to using that word twice in my response to Wayne above. And I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when that word was still slightly inappropriate, especially for a child to use.

    As I grew older it became such a part of everyday language that when I read the above comments just now I had to stop and really think about why it would be ever be considered offensive. And you’re right that it’s a sign of how coarse our language has become that it’s now a word that I actually might use in Church, depending on the context.

    But now that I can clearly remember my Mom telling me not to use that word, I will try my best to not use it again…..

    Which is exactly what I used to tell her too….. sorry I forgot Mom! LOL!

  • TimArth

    Wayne – Yes I am a big fan of Jordan Peterson. I hadn’t seen that particular speech of his, but it was a good as all of his other speeches. His podcast with Jocko was amazing. I don’t use the word amazing lightly.

  • wayne

    TimArth–
    Good deal! (I just recently discovered Jocko a few weeks ago, and yes that interview was powerful, and I do like the long-form!)

    I’m way more Behavioral than Peterson but have learned to become infinitely more eclectic over the years, and I can buy into quite a bit of his Cognitive approach. (Been slowly going through his Maps of Meaning lectures, incredibly good stuff.)

    Steve Earle–

    Big Bang Theory : Physics definition (of the word in question)
    https://youtu.be/D3jxdGZshpo?t=56

  • eddie willers

    Which is exactly what I used to tell her too….. sorry I forgot Mom! LOL!

    My mother washed my mouth with soap when she heard me use the word for a female dog.

    Like Giuliana’s “broken window” philosophy, I was terrified to find out what she’d do if I raised the stakes.

  • wayne

    I don’t want to make lite of this Topic, but I watched “A Christmas Story” last week, and Ralphie comes to mind—

    “Lifebuoy yuck!”
    https://youtu.be/epDS0h48qRk
    2:22

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