Obscenity and Trash Talk – The Problem With Crossing The Line

This past week in the news, there were two different incidents in which media celebrities made obscene or malicious comments about other people. Both took a fair amount of pushback from the public, and both celebrities apologized and said they had crossed the line. But I was wondering, what line was it?

zebra-814814_640 Photo by Pattern Pictures – Courtesy of Pixabay

Exactly where is the line that was crossed? I can’t seem to identify it, because if what they said was on the other side of the line, how much was okay up until they got to the line? Which obscenities are okay and how much trash talk can you say up until you reach the line?


What is acceptable today in the public arena was not acceptable five years ago.  The same is true for five years before that, and ten years before that. The line has moved with every downward shift of the cultureI have lived long enough to remember when men did not swear in front of women and women did not swear in the public arena. In fact, in the home I grew up in, you were not even allowed to swear in the private arena. Girl or boy, when you transgressed, the least you would be sanctioned with was a bit of soap in the mouth (and believe me, Ivory does not taste good!).

So, what can we do in a culture where the lines are so low that you have to don a facemask, oxygen tank and flippers to dive down and find them? First, when people have been trashed in the public arena, we can make our voices known. It is not okay to use obscenities and trash talk when disagreeing with anyone, no matter what their race, religion or political affiliation is.

Since the public standards and lines are so low, each of us must come up with our own lines and standards for communication. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have found a few lines in Scripture that work for me. First, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth,” and second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Those two will help keep my mouth and heart in check. When I do cross those lines, and I have, I need to apologize to the person I have offended and take responsibility for my actions.

Crossing the line? Hah…what line? 






Civility in the Public Discourse

conversation-799448_1920I was so pleased when the recent election cycle ended. Like many of you, it seemed like I was in the middle of a pitched battle with arrows flying over my head and bullets aimed at targets on either side of me. When it was finally over, I felt like I had been grazed by bullets and pricked by arrows aimed at someone else. You see, I am a centrist and try to look at issues from both sides before making my choices. That puts me pretty much in the middle of the political debate.

This year’s political rhetoric was particularly toxic, and it was a relief when the election was over, or so I thought. Instead of diminishing, the political climate in Washington has continued to heat up and the temperature is practically at a boiling point. I’ve been thinking about how change can be affected in this area.

I would love to wait for our political leadership to tamp down their tone and lead us by example. Unfortunately, this may never happen. I am proposing that each of us add a level of civility when speaking about our elected officials. Let’s try not to malign their character when we don’t agree with their views on a particular subject. Let’s debate ideas but keep the name calling to a minimum.

Please join the conversation.