The International Writers Magazine
THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS OF A BUDDHIST AMONG BAPTISTS
Reverend Father Antonio
Hernández, O.M.D., A.B.F.
Founder of the Independent Order of American Buddhist Fathers
and the Deep-Blue Sea of Words
The other day,
as I swore lustily after a "household accident", it occurred
to me that I've been hearing quite a bit of swearing on television
lately. (To mention the movies would only elicit gales of laughter.)
But television is a sort of sacred land for children. Even during
this morning's complaints about Justin Timberlake and whatever it
was he did to Janet Jackson, they were showing clips of it! Are
they out of their tiny minds? Don't the networks know that kids
watch early morning tv too?
This seems to
be the whole point of the subject. My best friend/secretary and
I began discussing this sad state of affairs. "I like to swear
as much as you do", she confidently told me, "but this
garbage on tv has to stop!" (She is a teacher.)
Pic of Jackson and Timberlake © Herald Sun 2004
quoted my grandmother: "These words [obscenities] are just words.
The only wrong in them is when they are uttered in anger or as a curse
against someone." My secretary was unimpressed. Usually she's impressed
by grandma's sage words.
We discussed solutions- but I feel as strongly as I ever have about
this topic. It is nothing less than Constitutional freedom. Yet the
1st Amendment, contrary to what Justice Hugo Black thought, is not the
most important right. All the rights are equal. It is clearly stated
in the Constitution even before the Bill of Rights that no part of the
Constitution or its Amendments may be used against any other part thereof.
So freedom of expression has to be checked by the equal freedom from
being grossly offended. How do we accomplish that?
At my house, when I was growing up, we were painfully civil (because
our parents and grandma were around, and they were multi-lingual.) No
one could swear in any language. We cut loose outside our home, and
we all swore better than any sailor. Thus, like Ernie Kovacs, I am all
for the delicious right to deep-blue speech.
Still, I have the common sense not to employ my indigo-end-of-the-spectrum
metaphors in the wrong places. Perhaps this what is missing from our
society: any trace of thoughtfulness for others. How can we fix that?
Mexican President Benito Juarez defined freedom, liberty and justice
in one phrase: El respeto de los derechos ajenos ("respect for
the rights of others"). Juarez, a poor Zapotec Indian who became
a lawyer, was a contemporary and fan of Abraham Lincoln's. He believed,
like Lincoln, in the power of correct language. Notice Juarez began
his statement with the word "respect". We don't have any respect
left today, it would seem.
Thus I say education is the answer. Schools are not teaching respect
as they once did. They did, I know, because I was there. In spite of
my devotion to cheerful cursing, school taught me to be a gentleman.
Today I can hear the ringing laughter at the very thought of the idea.
But respect doesn't rob anyone of any rights. It doesn't violate any
part of the Constitution. In case no one's noticed, the Constitution
of the United States is BASED on respect. The Founding Fathers trusted
in an honor system of honest, respectful representatives. Look what
examples we've got today....
I think teaching respect is a better idea than seeing the day when someone
stamps a censor rating on each of our foreheads.
© Rev Antonio Hernandez Feb 2004
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