Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This shouldn't be necessary

Preston council has decided to ban swearing on its streets.

Swearing on the streets has been banned by a council in an effort to reduce antisocial behaviour in the run-up to Christmas.

I suppose a lot of people would think that a reactionary old fogey like myself would be pleased at such news - but I'm not. Far from it - I'm deeply saddened that this is even considered necessary at all. Like most people I swear from time to time. I occasionally use bad language on this blog although I do try to refrain from using it gratuitously - but I despair at the way so many people find it virtually impossible to express themselves in any way without resorting to four letter expletives.

Whether it's anger, joy, surprise, shock, amusement or any number of other emotional responses there seems to be countless people incapable of saying anything without swearing these days. I'm the first to concede that my vocabulary is limited, but I don't concede that this is any reason to resort to foul language when you have a language as expressive, versatile and as beautiful as English.

I remember a time when swearing in the street was just not acceptable under any circumstance. To do so would have brought a sharp rebuke from any number of people - including your contemporaries. I recall an incident when someone from my school - wearing the school uniform - used a word which, in this day and age, would be considered relatively inoffensive (sod off - to be exact) was given a severe ticking off by a passing police officer who then reported it to the school.

We then had to listen to a stern lecture from the headmaster on how swearing in public was unacceptable and a reminder that we were "ambassadors" of the school and that our behaviour both in and out of the school reflected on the good name of the school.

Not content with trying to clamp down on swearing, Preston council are looking at other forms of anti-social behaviour too.

Officials are also clamping down on other forms of anti-social behaviour such as vomiting and urinating in the street.

Yeuk! The thing is - and typical of modern authority - they are tackling symptoms rather than the problem itself.

The regulation has been imposed by Preston City Council to try to curb drunk and disorderly behaviour in its town centre during the party season.

So why not do something about that? Like taking away the licences of pubs and clubs from where these swearing, puking, urinating louts disgorge?

Update: Sorry - I was in such a rush to post this before going to a meeting that I forgot to make my point. The point being that in a decent, moral Britain we wouldn't need the government to censor us - whether it's what we write, what we watch or what we say - we would do it ourselves. It's a damning indictment of post-modern Britain that a council is resorting to having to try and ban swearing in the street because we are so morally deprived that many people can neither restrain thenselves from doing so and even think it is acceptable, "normal" behaviour to do so.

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