This week’s blog post draws its inspiration from an Arkansas news story a colleague shared with me.
The brief version:
- According to ArkansasBusiness.com four employees (including three on-air personalities) filmed and posted “two profanity-laced spoof videos” on YouTube.
- The general manager of the NBC affiliate KARK stated, “A number of KARK employees acted on their own accord to produce unauthorized, offensive and distasteful videos that were subsequently posted to the internet. I am personally shocked and saddened by the behavior of these employees. KARK has no tolerance for this type of behavior and messages that degrade and discredit our community and our employees. As a result, those involved have faced swift and appropriate disciplinary action….”
- The four employees were fired. (http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article.aspx?zone=AB_DailyReport_Friday&lID=&sID=&ms=&cID=Z&aID=122987.54928.135113)
Discussing the story with colleagues and my wife brought thoughts about what constitutes appropriate behavior; or for that matter, appropriate speech. I realize the courts deal with this at the highest legal level—but what about at the level of each of us as members of a community? Is everything game? Is nothing too sacred for skewering? Can anything be said?
I can remember when I was beginning my teaching career. A veteran teacher on my team came unglued when she heard a student use the phrase, “that’s screwed up.” When I asked about her concern, she said, “Don’t you know what screwed up really means?” In her eyes, the student’s speech (and probably society in general) had slipped a bit on the civility scale. I did not see the big deal.
Now, with 30 more years in my rearview mirror, I understand my former colleague’s concern. For instance, growing up, my generation used the phrase “I am ticked off.” Well, we know what that was code for, don’t we? But, now, I hear more and more people in both the classroom and professional settings blurt out, “That really p@@@es me off!” Have we slipped a bit more? Is civility a casualty of informality and shock value?
The video spoof mentioned above uses the F-bomb numerous times. Two of my colleagues found other references in the videos offensive to women. Yet some people might make the argument there is nothing wrong with these videos—and nothing inappropriate about using the F-bomb in such creative endeavors. “It’s merely an attention grabber,” they might say.
The questions raised—and they are not new to this time period—are (1) “How do we determine the line of appropriateness?” (2) “Who should draw that line?” (3) “Should there even be a line?”
What do you think?
© Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2010.