Bad Child Words

At the Wording Desk

Increase your understanding of English words by learning about "the word police"

Bill Casselman

English speakers may no longer use negative words to describe the odious spawn of bad parents. Children must never be labelled as bad. Politically correct language cops have decreed it shall be so. For all children, angelic vessels of earthly purity and moral innocence, are saintly in speech and manner. There are no ankle-biters, guttersnipes, enfants terribles, rascals, scamps or imps. And jackanapes is a long retired insult to unruly rugrats.

But what a lie! Earth abounds in nasty little whippersnappers.

Yet a fascist onslaught of educational facilitators, easily -Freudened child experts and gooey-brained Jungian teachers have banished to invisibility’s cloakroom any blunt put-down of a child. Barbs, slurs, taunts, zings and jibes are now anathema, barred from speech or print. How flabby corrective invective has become, withering away, smothered under a pillow of school-marmish apprehensiveness by “child experts.”

To remedy this namby-pamby, tit-suck reluctance to name, indeed to brand, bad children, I now and then unearth an apt imprecation, a fitting malediction about wee ones, necessary to be revived in this age of cradled infants telling adults to “fuck off.” True story! This one exists on a hard disk somewhere: a pleasant woman reporter gently parts the swaddling clothes of one little “Jesus” in his crib, only to be met by the little cherub’s lips exploding in a bombardment of f-bombs.

This column is merely to pass on to readers a recent gem which appeared in an article about cursing on the rise among youngsters. I love this sentence about not recognizing little ones who swear and from whom f-bombs burst like moist, glistery mushrooms after a tepid rain: “And if everyone swears, why teach a child that it’s forbidden? But you can’t exactly just high-five the sailor-mouthed tot and send her back to kindergarten, either.” The author is Josh Lambert, in a book review he wrote for The New York Times September 26, 2016. Josh Lambert is academic director of the Yiddish Book Center and the author of Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture.

Thus ever to potty mouths!

Bill Casselman, November 10, 2016

Copyright 2016 William Gordon Casselman

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