FOLLOWING on from last week’s Speaking Personally column, which focused around an East Fife Mail office dispute, I want to tell you of another.
Before you start thinking at home that all we do in this office is sit and simmer at each other, that’s not the case...well, not always.
Recently, one of the Mail’s sister papers used a piece of vocabulary in a report of a court case which, let’s just say, may not be something you’d repeat in front of granny.
It was a word which most people would identify from the language of our youth as being a ‘sweary word’.
I was glad to see it because, as far as I was concerned, it was a vital inclusion which demonstrated the behaviour of an accused in a grown-up report of a court case.
I was glad too that the paper hadn’t treated me as a child and, you know, took a calculated gamble that the very sight of it wouldn’t cause my hair to fall out.
Little was I to know, then, that the rest of the readership of this title were at that precise moment sitting with their mouths open, aghast at the profanity, while the colour drained slowly from their faces.
At least, that’s what I was told would be happening, because there is no place in local papers for ‘swear words’.
I beg to differ.
Now, I’m not talking about littering the Colinsburgh flower show results or the Elie scarecrow festival picture captions with a series of ‘f’s, ‘c’s or ‘b’s, but instead proposing we just loosen our collars a bit.
You see, I swear.
I’m sure you swear too; I bet your son or daughter swears (probably more so if between the ages of 13-19); your parents probably swear and your grandparents definitely do.
If I turn on the TV at night, I’ll hear more swearing, whether it’s on live sporting coverage, a film, drama, or whatever.
Sometimes I rarely even notice the language. We’ve become sanitised to hearing ‘bad language’ because we hear it so often.
So why do we shy away from it and turn into an easily-offended namby pamby when it comes to reading actual printed versions of swearing?
We even go to the extent, at times, of dropping asterisks in between individual letters, as if it takes a certain degree of intelligence to work out what has been said.
How pathetic is that when you think about it?
Some say it shows a lack of a strong and varied vocabulary.
No, it doesn’t. A good strong ‘swear word’ at the appropriate moment can make a point clearer and sharper.
It demonstrates a grit, a desire and a passion.
Now, as I’ve already said, there is a time and a place.
Newspaper copy of proceedings in such places as courts or council chambers, where things may get heated, should be allowed to include verbatim reporting on what has been heard, instead of feeling terrified of offending.
Because you know what? I really don’t think we’re that sensitive any more.