What the £%$^$??&!!?

‘What the £%$^$??&!!’ was my first reaction upon reading the long awaited Cohabitation Bill. It was followed by ‘££%$£%£$£$££$^$”£”£ and more £$£”%$£%$£%££!!!

But as tempted as I was to write about the matter and vent out in anger, I decided to sleep on it until my emotions subside –  I learnt the 'waiting lesson' late in life, and for this I’m thankful, but sadly it seems not to have reached everyone.

I’m referring of course to Joe Grima’s reaction to an anti Mintoff article written in The Catholic Herald by Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith.  Clearly overwhelmed by emotions, Grima, a former Labour minister, left a comment under the article with the words “F**k you Father…if you’re not already used to it there are enough paedophiles in your clan to show you the ropes.”

Had I or anyone else done something of the sort it would have been bad enough, but when you’re a former Labour minister and you know that your party’s biggest challenge is its violent and thuggish history, and when you know that the mayhem of 25 years ago is still being used against your party till this very day, this is downright suicide.

Though Joe Grima is a former Labour minister, he’s been hosting discussion programmes on Labour’s and other media for years. His use of profane words is therefore not an attempt to appear to be in tune with popular culture, because we all know he is, on the contrary Grima simply let his emotions get the better of him even though he probably knew that he’d be under the spotlight and automatically associated with the Labour Party’s attitude at large –thus validating the stereotypical brash view that the PN like to portray it with.

We all swear and cuss in private, in fact I wouldn’t believe anyone who claims the contrary, not even the bishop. Using profanities in private is not only cathartic but also creates intimacy with those around you -  if people know that you don’t use that sort of language in public, they automatically work out that they are closer to you and by default more trusted than the rest.

Of course I see the hypocrisy, I see it loud and clear, but this is the reality we live in, this is the game we have to play, and if we want the slightest chance of winning we must play well. This distinction between the public and the private dates back to the 18th century when authorities realised that it’s simply impossible to regulate speech in the private sphere, and though centuries later things are changing, things are also pretty much the same. 

For instance up to a few years ago this same paper wouldn’t have carried the title of this blog, but despite the liberation of today’s world, the fact remains that swear words and derogatory insults make you look like you’ve run out of arguments.

Though profanity is used as an expression of intense emotion and, admittedly we do need special words to convey the ineffability of feelings, using such words without a very clever follow-up argument, makes you look like you’ve lost your cool, and that your opponent has managed to get the best of you. Worst of all it makes you look like you’re linguistically challenged.

Unfortunately for those who like me find it difficult to bite their tongue, the link between bad language and moral degeneracy, low education and callousness is, incredibly strong, and though profane words are sometimes used as power words or as an expression of contempt for authority, they are also represent the end of rational expression.

So instead of telling Minister Chris Said exactly what I’d like him to do with his Cohabitation Bill, I will give myself a minute or two to turn the  £!$£$”%”£$!  into a meaningful debate, I might need more than a cold shower for this one, but I’ll do whatever it takes, because it’s worth it.



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