Tahlequah Daily Press

Columns

February 18, 2012

Coaches, teachers, journalists and other potty-mouths

“Dang.”Did that offend anybody? No? Then try this: “Criminy!” Anything at all? Let’s try one more time: “Oh, darn.”

A couple of you may be irritated, but all I’m hearing in my mind’s ear are those infernal crickets. That’s probably because I’m not an Arizona teacher. And if I were one of those foul-mouthed, filthy-minded, cuss-up-a-blue-streak curs dragging young minds into the gutter in the Grand Canyon State, I’d be using a word stronger than “dang.” Although I like “dang.” And “criminy,” too. They have such a Gary Larson ring to them.

Arizona Sen. Lori Klein needs to write dialogue bubbles for comics, because I’d prefer to think she’s a satirist rather than a serious politician. The Klein – um, woman – is the main sponsor of a bill that calls for the termination of trash-talking teachers. Klein’s a Republican, the “party of less government” – unless, as some argue in these politically absurd days, it comes to a woman’s – um, reproductive organs? – and free speech.

Arizona teachers must have a peculiar propensity for gutter talk. I know dozens and dozens of teachers, some since I was in grade school. My husband’s sister and her husband are educators; my brother’s wife used to be one. My dad’s brother, Joe, is a retired teacher/coach. I’ve never even heard most of those folks utter a four-letter word outside of school, and in any case, I can think of very few I don’t hold in the highest regard.

I have no business in a public school classroom, and not just by Klein’s standards. While I may not be quite as ugly as the proverbial homemade soap,I should keep a few bars for oratory iniquity. That’s typical of someone in the newspaper industry, and anyone who says otherwise is – well, a dad-gum liar.

My mom never uses four-letter words, and my dad rarely does (at least, not in front of us “kids”). Such garbage would never past the lips of my grandmothers, whose only interjections were “Dear John!” and “I’ll swan!” Grandma Ashlock was invoking St. John; I haven’t a clue what Grandma Poin-dexter meant by “I’ll swan!”

When I was 5, Grandma Ashlock had taken my sister, Lisa, and me to a park by her home. On the storm drain someone had spray-painted the “f-bomb,” and since I could read, I began sounding out the word. The guttural “k” was about to roll off my tongue when my grandmother grabbed me and said, in a tone of  horror: “Oh, Kim! Don’t ever, EVER say that word, or you’ll go to HELL!” (I use “hell” here as a reference to a nasty plane of existence, biblically speaking, and not as an invective.) Despite my questioning, she adamantly refused to explain what it meant, just that it was the “favorite word of the devil.”

By the time I was in sixth grade, I not only knew the definition of “the devil’s word,” I knew it was generally employed as a verb. I knew a lot of other words, too, but not from teachers or my family. Other students, whose fathers weren’t as good at concealing their swearing proclivities from their kids as my father may have been, happily passed them along. And, h... heck, that is – I have to admit, in the occasional heated moment, I may use one or two of these words. Sometimes the moment isn’t even that heated.

But I respect the sensitivities of others, and I didn’t use those words around my son. Well, not when he was young – or not often, anyway. When Cole was little, if someone uttered a curse word in his presence, he would yell, “OMMM! You said a quest word!” Then he would tattle to any other adult in the vicinity, sometimes suggesting the offender get a “spanking.” Now he’s 23, and he also needs the bar of soap, apparently having received too few spankings in his youth.

Maybe Klein has a kid who brought home a “D” on his report card, so she’s angling for revenge. Or maybe she got a vivid tongue-lashing from a teacher who got tired of her bull – er, hockey – at the statehouse. Or maybe she just can’t tolerate any blasphemy. But she needs to – as the Aretha Franklin character warned in “The Blues Brothers” – think about the consequences of her actions.

Let’s say in September 2012, some kid jumps out from a boom closet at school and hollers, “Boogity-boogity-boogity!” at a teacher, thus eliciting the Germanic slang for human excrement. That’s strike one, for which the nonplused educator could get a week’s suspension without pay. Maybe the teacher (whose pay was meager enough without the punitive paring) says nothing more contentious than “dagnabbit” or “aw, shucks” until December 2014, when he trips over an extension cord, hits his mouth on the corner of a desk, and mutters “d--nit!” after he spits two of his teeth onto his palm. He’s just swung the bat a second time. A year later, he’s overheard to say the schools are “in deep [poo],” whereupon he is summarily sacked.

I’m not old enough to remember when the Führer and Il Duce were kicking around across the pond. But I can read history books, and unless the revisionists have gotten to them already, I think we can draw a few parallels.

We can’t outlaw everything we find offensive. I’m repelled when I see a guy cast a finger into a nostril, reel in the catch, and consume the carp, but we have no laws against it. Can’t the superintendent just give the wayward teacher a good talking-to, and take more drastic measures if that doesn’t work?

One thing might stop Klein’s bill from gaining traction. Coaches are teachers, too, and without them, the good people of Arizona will be hearing crickets on field and court.

Shoot-fire. I don’t guess teachers in Oklahoma or Texas have much to worry about.

Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.

1
Text Only
Columns
  • A twist on words can get you into trouble

    The misuse or mispronunciation of words can be forgiven in children, but in adults, it’s water-cooler cannon fodder.

    July 28, 2014

  • Keeping the interest of boys is just a matter of ‘gross’

    A couple of my friends complained to me recently that they didn’t know how to “connect” with their teenage sons, and that they are growing apart from the sweet little boys to whom they once read bedtime stories.

    July 14, 2014

  • ‘Different’ situations aren’t so very different, after all

    “Well, that’s different!” It’s the favorite phrase of the hypocrite, when confronted with his glaring flaw.

    July 7, 2014

  • Threats on social media or elsewhere won’t change any minds

    I try not to take political positions on my private Facebook timeline. I used to sometimes, in what I considered a polite way, but that offended friends left and right – literally. And sometimes I watched in horror as a thread degenerated into name-calling between people I respect, but who happen to be polar opposites on the political spectrum.

    June 30, 2014

  • Striking the hyphen, and other journalistic maneuvering

    A couple of years ago, my office phone rang. With no greeting or fanfare, the caller indignantly said, “Did you know they’ve taken the hyphen out of ‘fundraiser’?”

    June 23, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg IRS spins email yarn as Obama slips past another scandal

    Forget everything you've heard about email. All digital trace of a former IRS official's email over the 25 months the agency harassed conservative groups has mysteriously, improbably vanished. Gone, too, is the White House's accountability as President Obama slips from another scandal.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Front-load washers are harbingers of foul-smelling fabric

    May 27, 2014

  • Beetles in the office aren’t up on blocks

    We have more dead beetles here at the Daily Press office than you can shake a can of Raid at.

    May 12, 2014

  • NOLA always worth your time, especially for Jazz Fest

    When it comes to New Orleans, you can have a “glass half-full” or a “glass half-empty” attitude.
    Either you see anniversary celebrants enjoying a romantic dinner at the Court of Two Sisters, or the aging transvestite hawking her wares on Bourbon Street. You hear the joyous sounds of Zydeco music from the band on the corner, or the lewd cursing of the drunken frat boy at Pat O’Brien’s. You smell the enticing aroma of Cajun cuisine in the French Quarter, or the fresh puddle of vomit on the sidewalk.
    I’m a cynic, but I take the “glass half-full” approach to New Orleans. My family loves the city’s character, even with all the blemishes that repel respectable folks, and we especially love the Jazz and Heritage Festival. That’s where we were last weekend. The main action is out at the fairgrounds, with its sweltering temperatures, stick-tight-laden grass, and sea of sweaty bodies packed in around a dozen stages and 60 or so booths selling local food and crafts.

    May 5, 2014

  • Selling of lies in the dreaded car game

    Recently, my husband and I did something that is discussed in the same tone of disdain reserved for Communists, salesmen, politicians, lawyers, and sometimes, journalists. We bought ourselves a “furrin” car.
    We decided on a foreign contraption because my husband now commutes to Tulsa every day, and a quick calculation revealed the horror our three-quarter-ton diesel Chevy would visit upon our bank account. That vehicle gets a comparatively impressive 18 mpg, but doing the math on the current price of diesel and a 150-mile daily round trip is enough to send anyone to the nearest toilet to hurl up the previous meal.

    April 21, 2014

Poll

Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US
Stocks