Rainey: Frankly, my dears, it seems we don’t give a gol durn anymore

About the writer: Barrett Rainey is an Air Force veteran, longtime pilot and former reporter for radio and TV stations from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Washington, D.C. Now living in McMinnville, he writes regularly for the Carlton-based Ridenbaugh Press.


If you can read that, you probably swear as much as I do, and you know just what I meant instead of using the actual words. Those are not good, respectable words, actually.

I find myself using more foul words lately — at least more than in previous times. Our mass and (un)-social communications are full of the foul and getting — er, well — steadily fouler.

As a mostly broadcast journalist for several decades, I usually know the right words to use — the respectable words.

I was raised in a home where “not a discouraging word” was used or heard. In short, I know better.

But, as a casual Facebook user, I’m amazed — and often disgusted — by the continual use of such printed words in postings. That goes for memes as well as individually written texts.

Sometimes the gutter words — s**t, pi***d and more — seem to invade nearly every post. They’re used and reposted even by people I know don’t use such words in their everyday activities.

Some readers are no doubt repulsed by those words and the posters who wield them. But by a certain age that seems to be arriving ever earlier, we all know what they are.

They’ve become verbal crutches for many who think their use makes them sound angrier, more adult or more authoritative. Increasingly, they’re being commonly heard in the stands at sporting events, at an adjoining table in a restaurant, in normal, day-to-day talk or in postings between acquaintances.

As a society, we’ve either become more accepting of their use or we’ve learned to ignore them. After all, they add nothing to any communication, so if you mentally block them out, you don’t miss anything.

For most of us, the shock value, if there ever was such a thing, has long since worn off. Maybe that’s why these expressions creep into our speech without a second thought.

I read more of them in a week online than I remember hearing in a year, back when I lived on a military mountaintop above the Arctic Circle with 50 other guys some 60 years ago.

It wasn’t so long ago the American public was shocked — shocked, I tell you — when Clark Gable said to Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” Now, you can hear a lot worse than that on your TV any night of the week.

You can even watch constipated actors sitting on toilets or bears in the woods wiping their backsides with the latest tissue. The goalposts for shock value have been moved way, way down the field.

The overall coarseness in our nation is an ever-present and growing societal reality. You don’t like it and I don’t like it, but it’s hard to escape.

Politicians are using the once-forbidden words in speeches these days, at Trump rallies, for example. Older folks, raised in more restrictive times, now post or re-post online words I would have gotten a soapy mouthwash for at home.

A lot of young people — most of whom certainly know better — pepper conversations and texts with ’em. They’re everywhere.

We’ve gotten way past “damn” or “hell” or other such shopworn expletives. The new, casual, more common use of profanity has worked its way into our usual, casual everyday language.

Most of us try to ignore it. Most of us don’t regularly use it. But it’s ever-present, so we’re getting inured to it.



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