Why is it so hard for grown folks to control their mouths?
Offering that old-school advice to watch your mouth seems a lot easier said than done. We live in an environment where what comes out of your mouth is not as dangerous as what comes through your computer, tablet or cellphone. Social media outlets have been the vehicles that have caused many to regret what they post.
Another lesson on appropriate language for the youth generation.
To put it simply, a person can flat-out deny or change what they said if it was damaging or incriminating. However, anything you say, write or post on a social network, computer or cellphone is a permanent record that can be retrieved. Every week, we hear about someone being fired or getting in trouble for posting something stupid or ill-advised on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Recently, a local guy posted a picture of his paycheck with a wise crack about how cheap the company he works for is.
Well, he doesn’t have that problem anymore, because he was fired for publicly defaming the company.
How many relationships have been damaged by someone texting inappropriate messages? There is an increase of criminal cases filed against people for sending explicit pictures with their cellphones. During a recent Youth Life Skills session, a law-enforcement speaker talked about how easy it is to be charged with possessing child pornography by simply receiving a nude picture from someone under 18. If you were to forward the picture to one or more people, then you will receive another charge of distributing child pornography. Both are felonies and could result in the perpetrator having to register as a sex offender.
Are we abusing the First Amendment? The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government or anyone to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech.
A less-stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message.
This is my constant struggle with the youth and pop culture. When we question the appropriate use of language in certain environments, they bring up the First Amendment. Have we no responsibility for every word that leaves our mouth?
There is an array of old cliches that apply: “Loose lips, sink ships,” “Taste your words before you spit them out” and “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your behind can’t cash.” Common courteously and respect should transcend even constitutional law.
In other words, just because you are allowed to say certain things doesn’t mean you should. I have relatives who use profanity constantly, regardless of who is present. It would make no difference to them if we were at an afterhours nightclub or a child’s first birthday party, the language is just as foul.
Whether it is delivered verbally, in writing, through a social network site or smartphone, our language has become so loose that we can no longer discern what is appropriate and what is not.
Deon D. Price is an author and youth life skills coach who lives in Fairfield. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.