Greg Bell: Profanity in media coarsens our society

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  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    March 19, 2017 4:35 p.m.

    Thank you, Greg Bell. There's even more to this topic than you've raised here. There are compelling reasons for us to retrench our foul language. It's fouling us culturally and personally, especially those who use and tolerate these words, which are connected to ideas and beliefs. If our ideas and beliefs can't be powerfully expressed without obscenity and profanity—if we have actually developed a taste for it—what have we become?

    One commenter flippantly said "it's nothing, just combinations of letters." That's a false belief. I hope to hear more from people who can make the case.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    March 18, 2017 9:11 a.m.


    Not sure how using well publicized current events to help support your comment is a rant ? I think I may have got a nerve there. a very strong negative reaction to someone just trying to support you.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    March 18, 2017 7:20 a.m.

    No Names

    Mr Trump's biggest "sin" is not his use of language, which in and of itself is disgusting. His biggest sin is his exact words.

    His allegations, starting with the "birther" claims, progressing to insulting the handicapped, minorities and the appearance of some women, and most recently false allegations of spying by the Brits, are an assault on truth and decency. And, oh, are there more.

    Has he no shame? I can learn to live with a few "f" bombs, but "mis-stating" truth in a Chief Executive and leader of the Free World in unconscienable. That is the profanity Mr Bell ought to speak about. Not dirty words in movies. We can avoid movies, we can not avoid the President.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    March 17, 2017 8:23 p.m.


    It is a shame that those on the left are so addled by an election going against their desires that they are now turning every single topic into some kind if partisan rant. Such obsession with anything is grounds for a professional mental health checkup I think.

    But you are right about Trump in this case...and about those so unhappy with him.

    Trump's biggest sin to many seems to be his course language. Those who call others immature names for wanting to avoid profanity in their entertainment, are having daily caniption fits about the words that Trump speaks.

    The irony, nay hypocrisy, is rich.

    Either they are just words offensive only because someone chooses to be a hypersensitive prude, or, they are the means of conveying racism, bigotry, and misogyny, along with craziness, disrespect to the sacred, contempt for civility and decency.

    Which is it?

    If media is harmless then Trump is just repeating what media pumps,out every day. If words matter, then you and I are justified in disliking Trump's craziness, courseness, and foul language.

    He is not as bad as Hillary, but he is offensive.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    March 17, 2017 7:47 p.m.

    A wise man wrote: Foul language is simply the pitiful attempt of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully.

    How true.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    March 17, 2017 7:34 p.m.


    I have to say I actually agree. Given Trumps bad week I would say words defenetly matter. He shot himself in the foot with his words about Muslims and was roundly scolded by members of his own party over his wild accusasssions about Obama. Words matter.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    March 17, 2017 6:15 p.m.

    If words are just words without any importance, then they can no more convey artistic license or freedom of speech than they can convey profanity, vulgarity, or blaspheme.

    You can't have it both ways.

    If the words have no real meaning, no reason to be banned or taken as offensive, then they have no real meaning and no reason to be protected or even uttered at all.

    So are the words meaningless? Or crucial to self expression? And if crucial, they have enough meaning to be offensive and something that others have a right to avoid.

    There are cases, rare cases, of those who use profanity as something akin to art. There are those who string together profanity with so much talent and creativity as to be at least interesting and entertaining. An endless string of meaningless F-bombs used as 6 different parts of speech by those who cannot name the parts of speech is just evidence of shallow vocabulary and shallow thinking.

    We think using the words we speak. I wonder how many today can even think truly deep or serious thoughts given their inability to get a sentence out without using Carlin's 7 banned words.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    March 17, 2017 6:05 p.m.

    I would swear alot before I had kids but I would never swear in front of kids.

    That is my biggest bet peeve in public. All adults and even teenagers should not swear in front of kids out of respect.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    March 17, 2017 5:08 p.m.

    The research you site supports your claims of harm but they do not support claim that "My opinion is if you need profanity to communicate... you're not a very good communicator." which is a different argument. There has been some significant research that has been replicated that shows just the opposite and that is n fact those who use profanity actually have a larger vocabulary of none profane words then those that do not. Scientific America wrote a good article titled "is swearing a sign of limited vocabulary."

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 17, 2017 1:36 p.m.

    RE: " LDS people are never going to get across-the-board validation for their beliefs and standards."...
    We're not expecting Hollywood to validate our beliefs or standards. Does anybody expect that (even non-LDS people)?

    LDS people are no different on profanity than a LOT of people out there in America. We are not super-different. You don't have to be LDS to not approve of profanity. I know lots of people who aren't LDS, and don't approve of profanity.

    I'm more concerned with the profanity my kids hear daily at Jr High than I am about profanity in Movies. But a big contributor to that trend towards more profanity at the Jr High comes from examples they see in the media, and naturally try to emulate their heroes in music, movies, TV, etc. So is it OK to be concerned about that?

    Not asking them to validate my beliefs... just not push the profanity so much.

    It affects the kids. They pick it up and emulate it. And kids watch kids at school and think it's OK (even though their square parents are teaching something different at home).

    A lot of this starts in the media we watch. And the kids they look up to at school.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 17, 2017 12:08 p.m.

    RE: "2Bits, I am wondering why you didn't get up and tap her on the shoulder and politely tell her that she was talking loud enough to be easily heard by everybody in that part of the car"...
    She wasn't sitting close to me. She was sitting 4 rows behind me. I'm not going to crawl over the guy next to me and walk back and reach over the poor guy sitting next to her to tell her what she already knew. She knew we could hear her.


    RE: "did she actually say, "Icouldn't get signed up for social security today to pay for everything I want"...
    I know it's hard to believe, but pretty much yes. Not verbatim (we have limited words here). Main complaints were:
    -How stupid and rude SS people are
    -Angry birth certificate wasn't sufficient to sign up so she has to come back
    -Said needed money for food and rent (and drugs evidently). An old friend entered the train late in her conversation and she conducted a 3-way conversation because he was good friends with the person on the phone too. He was their drug rehab counselor years ago.

    She was a well dressed well groomed young lady. But very loud and profane. Maybe her cell phone requires her to talk real loud.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    March 17, 2017 12:07 p.m.

    So the media shouldn't report what the POTUS said or says. The media reporting it is some how at fault, instead of the person who said it.

    Trump has changed America.

    I would much rather hear someone swear, than I would have someone lie to me.
    One actually effects me. The other is religious dogma trying to shame others, into one sided respect.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    March 17, 2017 11:26 a.m.

    In my opinion, profanity is not just inappropriate words.

    Profanity is also lack of respect for the truth, for intentionally misleading the ill-informed, for scapegoating and for ill treatment of the least of us.

    I can deal with the "f" bomb, but a person who goes out of his/her way to mistreat or mislead another person is infinitely more profane than a dirty ditty.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    March 17, 2017 11:09 a.m.

    @2Bits, I am wondering why you didn't get up and tap her on the shoulder and politely tell her that she was talking loud enough to be easily heard by everybody in that part of the car.
    That would have been the thoughtful thing to do.

    And did she actually say, "Icouldn't get signed up for social security today to pay for everything I want"?

    Or maybe she's maybe the same woman who told Bachmann that her 12 year old daughter "developed mental retardation" right after her HPV shot.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    March 17, 2017 11:03 a.m.

    " (That the [VidAngel ] rental was only $1 and movies were instantly streamable contributed greatly to its success as well.) The VidAngel case presents other complex legal issues with a lot of money at stake. Still, it’s one more instance of Hollywood fighting any attempt to filter inappropriate or undesirable content. Fortunately, we still have ClearPlay."

    Thank you for saying out loud what VidAngel hinted at (but would never admit): that the "sale for $20 and buy back for $19) was a fiction to cover up the fact that they were renting movies without paying royalties to the studios. It makes no difference if VidAngel had streamed the movies without erasing a single profanity or streamed their sanitized version--the unauthorized theft of the intellectual property is the same.

    You're being disingenuous when you say that Hollywood is "fighting any attempt to filter out inappropriate or undesirable content". ClearPlay does just that, and nobody's suing them. The difference, of course, is that the ClearPlay customer is paying a royalty to the studio for each movie shown.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 17, 2017 10:41 a.m.

    RE: "They're just words. Assemblages of letters"...
    Pretty sure everybody knows it's the intent, not the assemblage of special letters that makes something profanity.

    What we're talking about is the actual profanity being used in today's media, not the letters.

    I think the use of profanity is becoming more common, and more casual. In a way, hearing it all the time gives it less impact. But still it's a problem. That's what we're talking about.

    I agree you can make anything profane you want. Just by the way you say it. The senders intention is one factor. The receiver's perspective is also important. As in any communication.

    Casual use of profanity (like comedians etc) is usually not intended to be offensive but it is still profanity.

    My opinion is if you need profanity to communicate... you're not a very good communicator. It's not needed. And it's not harmless.

    Google "BYU study: Hearing profanity may lead to more aggressive acts"...

    Also Google "Can profanity in media hurt? - Washington Times"...

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    March 17, 2017 10:04 a.m.

    Starts from the Top down.

    Donald Trump is our national vulgarian.

    Please wash his filthy mouth out with soap.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    March 17, 2017 10:00 a.m.

    Greg Bell is absolutely correct. The media is shirking its responsibility to protect society from profanity.

    It used to be that the media shunned profanity like the plague it is. However, the influence of modern Hollywood has caused the rest of media to promote profanity in an effort to seem "hip" and "cool". Whereas the media once went to pains to omit profanity, it now gleefully prints and airs language so foul it would make even Kaiser Wilhelm II blush with shame.

    I call on all responsible parents and grandparents to boycott forms of media that promote profanity. We owe the children no less than this.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    March 17, 2017 9:41 a.m.

    RE: "One can’t hear these gross words and not be tainted. "

    Oh really? . . . . Maybe so.

    I have a plan.

    Let's just get rid of the F word, the S word, and the R word and replace them all with the T word.

    As in . . .

    . . . I really don't give a Trump.

    . . . Trump it, who cares?

    . . . Ugh, what a stinking, steaming pile of Trump!

    That way, Donald Trump could be credited with actually doing something positive for America.

    That's called making lemonade out of lemons.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    March 17, 2017 9:29 a.m.

    Carlin knew.
    They're just words. Assemblages of letters.
    We make them profane.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    March 17, 2017 9:25 a.m.

    Mr Bell

    You have said, and I quote "Profanity degrades those who use it and those who hear it. It coarsens human interaction. It speaks to the lowest impulses in us. Profanity combines with the increasing incivility and crude sexual talk in our society to demean our conversation."

    The media is a legitimate target based on this series of assumptions. But why not expand this assessment to our nation's leaders? After all, our new President is clearly heard using foul language to demonstrate his apparent power over women.

    Please stand up on your bully pulpit, and criticize everyone who engages in gartuitous profanity.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 17, 2017 9:16 a.m.

    I know. This is part of what turned me against Trump and his campaign. His constant use of profanity in speeches and interviews with the media. Didn't vote for him.

    Profanity is ubiquitous in the media and our society.

    I was asking my wife yesterday... why is it that people who can't get a sentence out of their mouth without at least one (but usually many) profanities, have to talk on their cell phones at the top of their voice when they are on TRAX so everybody can hear them?

    Also wondered why these loud cell talkers always seem to have messed up lives they want to talk loud about all the time.

    They seem to want everybody to hear their business. Why is that?

    I lady on the way home yesterday was talking so everybody on the whole car could hear about her new lawyer she got to represent her in her murder case, and complaining about her drug counselor and her kids, and complaining that she couldn't get signed up for Social Security today to pay for everything she wanted. 30 minutes and she never shut up or even quieted down. She was like 25 years old, very healthy, and wants to be on Social Security? Just because her life is a mess?