Friday, May 27, 2011

Say what now?

Here's a story that's making the rounds here in Tampa Bay. The short version is, this guy's name is Melton Little and he wore the shirt that he's wearing in the picture to a Rays game against the New York Yankees. Somebody in attendance, staff member or a fan, nobody knows, objected and he was approached by ballpark staff and asked to remove the garment or himself from the premises. The guy's a lawyer and a season ticket holder (he says he spends over $20,000 a year on tickets) and he chose to leave, feeling his rights to free expression were restricted and now he's in the paper and yada et al.
I couldn't work for the Rays. Because naggy, little, pain-in-the-ass "controversies" like this pop up all the time and the local media, for whatever reason, goes out of their way to give them far more attention than they deserve. For instance, this story was on the front page of Thursday's *tbt. Seriously. That's not Mr. Little's fault but that would drive me insane.

I'm not highlighting this story because of the baseball aspect (although, I'd like to point out that I hate the New York Yankees more than any human being I know, for the purposes of full disclosure but mostly because I always enjoy pointing out how much I hate the New York Yankees) or because of the free speech issue. Nope, I'm highlighting this because I'm intrigued by this part of the story right here:

And, Little said, there are much worse words out there.

"I teach my kids to say that instead of other four-letter words," he said.

Now, far be it for me to judge or critique how someone raises their kids. Since I don't have any, I don't even have a frame of reference. But it seems to me that this isn't really raising the bar all that high, to swap an overused, not-quite-an-obscenity for actual obscenities for the purpose of improving the vocabulary of impressionable children. I'm not quite sure how that would work...but I picture it going down kind of like this:

"Son, I understand you used a bad word at school today."
"I'm sorry, dad. It's just that Jimmy Parsons was teasing me and I lost my temper."
"That's okay, son. We all lose our tempers sometimes. And I'm proud of you for standing up for yourself. But what I would like you to do is not use the language you used today."
"But...but what should I do then, dad?"
"Well, instead of saying...ah...what you said, you could say 'Hey, Jimmy Parsons, you suck!' How does that sound?"
"Oh. Okay. Like, I should say that Jimmy Parsons sucks!"
"Yes! Yes, son! That's exactly right."
"But what does Jimmy Parsons suck, daddy?"
"Jimmy Parsons sucks. I get that. But what? Sucks what exactly?"
"Well, ah..."
"Does he suck pieces of candy? Or popsicles? Or ice cubes? Because that really doesn't seem like an appropriate response for when he puts my lunch in the toilet."
"No, that's not...that isn't exactly right...he sucks something...unpleasant."
"Like what, daddy?"
"Well, it doesn't have to be anything specific. People will know it's an insult and that you mean business. Why don't you think of something you think would be unpleasant to suck? Keep it to yourself, it can be your own private secret! How about that?"
"Wow, really? Anything I want?"
"Anything you want, sport!"
"Then I think I'll go with...penis."
"Yep, I'm gonna go with penises, dad. Big hairy, sweaty penises, some of them with diseases. Lots of 'em! How about that?"
"Sounds good, sport. Sounds great. I just don't want you using bad language."

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