I had another post scheduled for today, something terribly bland and uninteresting I'm sure but as I was scanning my feeds yesterday I came across a post at An Island Life where Kailani objected to her children hearing the word "stupid" in a children's movie. In her house it's a bad word and judging from the comments she's received it sounds as if most people agree with her.
I, however, disagree. Please don't think I'm taking a shot at Kailani by posting an objection--not at all, she's great--I just happen to have a slightly different opinion on the issue.
Why? Well first, I think stupid is a pretty legitimate word. You cannot replace it with "crazy" or "silly" as suggested, they're completely different. You could use the word "inane," "insensate," "ludicrous" or "moronic" but which would sound more bizarre coming from the mouth of a toddler? Using one of those words just makes you sound pedantic on top of everything--though my guess is if you did use one of those words you have the advantage that 90% of the population wouldn't understand what you meant anyway.
There are times when stupid is exactly the word for the situation. Or even the person frankly--not that I'm passing out that judgment right and left but honestly there are plenty of times when people have stupid behavior or do stupid things--even are stupid. I believe my parents were happy to point out my own stupidity from time to time during my teenage years and thankful I am for it.
I think, based on the post's comments, that what mothers most object to is the word being used as an insult. Fair enough, I don't allow my children to insult other people either but it seems that to unilaterally decree "We don't say 'stupid' in this house" rather than addressing the issue of a child being rude or having no empathy for others accomplishes little. I know plenty of children who are chastised for saying "stupid" or "hate" but receive no reprimand for saying "I don't want you to be my friend anymore" or "I don't like you" or any number of cruel things children say. Teaching children kindness is more than just punishing them for using a particular word.
Second, and by far the bigger issue in my book, is how the trend to vilify "stupid" represents the shift in societal values.
For example, the other day one of the kids got into the car after school and told me that someone they know got into trouble for saying a "bad" word. Curious, I asked which word it was but the child was too embarrassed to repeat it. I finally dragged it out of them and it turns out it was the word "stupid."
"Stupid? That's the bad word?" I said, chuckling.
"Yes," they nodded, eyes wide that I'd been so bold as to repeat it on the school grounds.
It used to be that if you wanted to say a bad word you looked no further than the words describing lewdness, wanton sexuality, body parts or bodily functions. We didn't talk about some things because they were private, we didn't talk about other things because they were abhorrent, we didn't talk about the rest because it wasn't polite.
However, nowadays with every new teen-targeted movie celebrating the crass, the vulgar and the sexual the new profanity represents a new set of values. Forget chastity, morality, grace, gentility, modesty--they pretty much went out of fashion with the 60s--instead we have the new value: tolerance. For everyone and everything.
While I'm certainly a proponent of being fair and kind to all, it does bother me that the worst word you can use today isn't the "F" word but words like "stupid," "dumb," "hate," "retard," or the worst of all--the "N" word. While my children hear words representing blatant sexual acts 50 times a day on the playground what word is it that gets the punishment in the classroom? "Stupid." Oh the irony.
Now I'm not advocating using the "N" word--I can't think of any way its use or any other ethnic slur could be justified--but it just goes to show how our values have shifted and the campaign against words like "stupid," "dumb" and "hate" seems to be the next level in modern mind control. The pervasive use of profanity teaches children that they can be funny or popular if they use the F word (at least that's the message from Hollywood) while their teachers at school are spending all their energy teaching them that they're intolerant and bad for using what still is a legitimate word. Where are the priorities?
It's as if Big Brother is out there, slowly changing our values by making us think bad words--and by extension the acts and behavior they promote--are funny and good while perfectly good words are shameful and it bothers me.
So as for me, I'll keep washing out my children's mouths with soap when I hear them using truly bad language but I'll use the word "stupid" when it's warranted and allow my children to do the same. Being able to correctly judge true stupidity is a critical life lesson that they'd better learn if they want to avoid a lot of pain in life. But then that's me. Maybe I'm being stupid, who knows.
Here's your chance to speak up and let me know your thoughts--I'm really curious:
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Technorati tags: parenting, motherhood