Ran afoul of an unknown rule this week in a private Facebook group dedicated to discussions about what is good about living in Floyd County.
My private message box in lit up over my “colorful language” in a post about predictions of what may or may not happen in our coming winter.
That colorful language was use of a four-letter word.
No, not the four letter word that sends folks to the rafters. That word was the one the late Carrie Fisher uttered in the Warren Beatty movie when she asked him: “Wanna f—?”
Nor was it the often used colloquialism used to describe excrement.
My “colorful” four-letter word was “hell” as in dismissing most weather forecasts by asking “who the hell knows?”
“Hell,” I learned, is not allowed in places where Floyd County requires “clean language.”
I removed the offending word and went about the business of the day. As a guest in a private group, I must adhere to the rules, listed or unlisted, if I want to take part. Those who control private groups have that right and I try to respect it.
Some readers of Social Media, however, felt the controversy — if one existed — required further discussion. In another group, a discussion developed after one poster said I “cuss all the time” in my writings. Another said I could not make a point “without swearing.”
I searched the thousands of articles posted in Blue Ridge Muse over the last 13 years and found two uses the the infamous “f-word.” One (published on April 3, 2017) was a direct quote by our current president who threatened the media — folks like me — that “I’m warning you, tread very f—ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is doing to be f–king disgusting.”
In direct quotes, I usually let cuss words remain without editing them down to dashes, especially when they come from someone like Donald Trump. In another earlier article (October 8, 2016), he talked on tape about putting “heavy” moves on a married woman and said “I did try and f— her.”
Those two articles are the only ones where that word appeared without editing and I did so because I continue to wonder how people who claim to be religious continue to support such a man.
I’m not a saint — not even close — and I cuss more often that I probably should in conversation. As a newspaperman, I spent a lot of time in newsrooms where the language, shall we say, was not fit for television or church socials.
Comedian George Carlin made a lot of money with a skit called “the seven words you can’t say on television.” Those words originally were: sh–, p–s, fu–, cu–, c—sucker, motherf—er and t-ts. He first used the words in 1972 and got arrested more than once for using obscenity but noted before he died that that all of them had shown up in broadcast TV over the years since.
Comedian Charles Rocket lost his job on Saturday Night Live when he said “oh f—.” Both pi– and t–s appear often on shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and sh– was popular on shows like Sons of Anarchy and The Badge.
All of Carlin’s seven words often appear in posts on Social Media. Trump often uses the words in his Twitter tweets.
“Hell” was not one of the words on Carlin’s list and until this week I had not come under fire for using it. More than one minister in Floyd County has told me to “go to hell” or “you’re headed for hell” in conversations and in print. “To Hell and Back” and “Hell has not heroes” are among books that became best sellers. “Hell” was often used in the Harry Potter books and films and even shows up in G-rated motion pictures like “A Christmas Carol” and “Hannah Montana,” notes the Internet Movie Database.
So I guess I will keep using it in my writing as well — except for one group where I sometimes post items like stories and photos of high school athletic events and upcoming weekend events.
There, I must be a hell of a lot more careful.