Speak Rightly

January 27, 2017

​"Watch the way you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, each word a gift." -- Ephesians 4​:29, The Message​

 

There's too much profanity in everyday life.  Here in Philadelphia, I hear 'bleep-able' words all around me in public: overheard in loud cellphone conversations, on buses and subways, on the streets, just about everywhere.

On one hand, I respect that it may reflect the stressful, gritty nature of life in a large, northeastern U.S. city -- it may very well be a manifestation of the speakers' stress and daily frustrations.

But on the other hand, it's just plain shameful.  Are these the only words available in the vocabulary of so many people to be used in all kinds of situations?  If so, then we're shamefully undereducated.  Why not learn a few more words to more fully express one's thoughts and feelings?

If you're one of those who has the courage to call out a person for speaking profanity in public (good for you if you do), then you may hear a response about 'freedom of speech.'  Well, the First Amendment only states that government shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech; it doesn't state that people are encouraged to talk in ways that make them sound like bullies or undeveloped fools.  Neither one of those is a good look.

My point is this: just because something is not illegal, doesn't mean that it's right.  It's not illegal to name-call someone, but it's wrong.  It's not against the law to yell at someone, but it's not the normal, healthy way to conduct a conversation.  In the same way, though it's not unlawful to use curse words in public, it's just not right.

It would be nice to hear "please," "thank you," and "excuse me" more often.  We'd all be happier if we complimented each other more.  The city we live in -- and the culture we create -- would be better if we were careful to say only what helps, each word a gift.

May God bless you.

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F. TIGHE BURNS, ESQ.

215.732.0101

230 S Broad St, Suite 1400
Philadelphia, PA 19102