Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Freedom of speech = freedom to curse?

I subscribe to Adam Curry's website and listen to the DSC.

I don't agree with the vile language that seems to be associated with the so called 'popular' podcasts. I find a tirade of abusive language tiresome, childish and generally uncomfrtable.

OK, freedom of speech means the right to speak freely, but that does not mean the right to swear and curse like a trooper. Stand in the street and do the same thing and you'll be convicted of a public order offence. Don't believe me? Don't try it - you'll find out at your own peril.

Of course folks use language in their everyday walks of life, however, some don't. Isn't restraint sometimes a better tool than no restraint? Does it really add to the message, or, more importantly does it take away?

Any fool can swear, it's often the province of the lower intellect, a four lettered word can replace a comma and semi-colon. I always think that language is largely inappropriate in podcasting. I understand that in some places it has its place - not in my blog or podcast though.

This is the content of the text I put on Curry's site:

One common misconception is the fact that to be on the cutting edge with freedom of speech you have to swear and curse incessantly.

I guess Martin Luther King got it wrong then did he? Poor old Ghandi should have followed the Howard Stern model too eh? Winston Churchill should have thrown in a few four letter words when he talked about fighting to the bitter end and the Queen's speech should figure some street slang to appeal to the masses?

Ok, it's your freedom of choice to curse and swear, but, please don't feed me the nonsense that this makes you 'cutting edge'. I listen to podcasts with my kids around, the only cutting you'll get in that instance is the podcast via the off button.

Adam, I'm not having a go at you, it's obviously prevalent in CSB's mind that foul language = cult status. I happen to think that copious foul language = no restraint, poor and/or little vocabulary and low or impaired intellect.

The Crims swear in the cells below while the Barristers wax eloquent in the court room above. I'm not suggesting we adopt a Barrister's status, I think we should just remember that some of us hate that sort of language

Adam, one of your promo's had a mass of foul language - if there's an audience for that, I just think it feeds the lowest common denominator. I don't mind the odd curse - but please don't machine gun it out. It's just harsh, crude and - well, pretty boring to be frank.

I'll sit back and wait for the tirade to follow...


Bernadette in Australia said...

Wow Paul. It will be interesting to see what reaction you get. I suspect there will be two distinct camps...the "couldn't agree more" camp and the "you must be a real prude" camp. That's certainly been the reaction I've received whenever I've entered into this debate with people.

For what it's worth I'm entirely in agreeance with you. I think that streams of foul language simply indicate a lack of imagination and command of the language. And it's boring to listen to. It's easy to degenerate into that kind of language...Much more difficult to articulate a well-constructed thought with good arguments and imaginative adjectives.

And besides, if you swear all the time, what do you say on those very odd occasions when you really need to swear?

Good on you Paul and keep up the great work.

Adrian Pegg said...

It's the same on TV. You can't have a cool show if you don't use the sort of words to which you refer. And this has progressed to the point where it's a kind of one-upmanship. You know - who can say the naughtiest thing and get away with it!

On the one hand I think - well - they are only words, and if they lose their potentcy there will be nothing left to shock and no-one will care. I can remember when 'bloody' was considered a swear word and was pretty much taboo - who cares now?

On the other hand I can see your point.

I suppose I dislike it when it is done for effect when it isn't necessary, but find it OK when in context and used to punctuate or make a point.

Thom Turner said...

Totally @*%#$*&^ agree...

I think we should *%&#$ boycott the shows that use that kind of @^#$&)%$ language excessively and %#^&^%$ send a strong $%^&*&^! message that we won't %$#^&# put up with such *&^%$#$ things.

But seriously, thanks Paul for saying what every parent who openly listens to podcasts at home says when a young one passes by at just the inopportune moment. I hope others get the message.

JH said...

I am in agreement with Podcast Paul about swearing in podcasts (and all media). There are times that certain comedic value can be obtained with beeped swearing (Top of the Pods' Tourette's monks, for example), but most of the time it is unnecessary and the sign of an unimaginative mind.

Jack said...

I'm not sure if anyone thinks that swearing makes them "cutting edge" as you suggest, but I have to say that it doesn't bother me. If I don't like a certain style of talk (like CC Chapman's incessant "I'm so totally VIBING on this music - I'm so TOTALLY wired - I'm so TOTALLY digging this") I just shuttle past it and get back to listening to the bits I like.

Yes, it is often gratuitous and, yes, it can be tiresome but as ever, it is our choice to listen to it or turn it off.

Keep up the good work!


Martin GD said...

Got to admit I am guily of using the occassional naughty word in my PodCast in the past, but everytime I did, I heard Paul's voice telling me I shouldn't do it. Totally agree with your sentiment Paul and will try my best to bite my tongue --- oh sh.. that hurt :)

Conrad Slater said...

I'm always really careful and strict about removing swearing on my show. Sometimes I've lost a couple of good jokes because of it but it forces me to think harder and write something funnier.

I don't swear in front of children in real life and whilst I've yet build any sort of family audience for my show I'd prefer that option be open.

I enjoy hearing swearing on some of the podcasts I listen to and I swear on a regular basis in real life but as with all things there is a time and a place.

I agree with you Paul that DSC is not one of those places.