“La Resistance” against vulgarity’s despotic reign seems to be gaining momentum. Last week, on the occasion of World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI extolled the media to “safeguard the common good, respect the truth, and protect the dignity of the human person and the family.” Significantly, he was greeted with the applause of tens of thousands of spectators when he said, “Programs that inculcate violence and antisocial behavior or that vulgarize human sexuality are unacceptable, and much more so when they are directed at the young.” (For the complete speech, go to Zenit and click on the entry for May 20, 2007, then Pope: Violence and Vulgarity Are "Unacceptable")
The Pope, apparently, is not alone. In Barbados, the Minister of Social Transformation (what a title!) recently proposed a comprehensive program of counter-education to reverse what he calls "the developing behaviour that rears its head in obscene language and other areas of indecency.”
I recommend the entire article on the minister’s thoughts—I wish it were longer, but it has a fetching opening line: “Barbadians are tossing around the ‘f’ and ‘c’ words too flippantly and it has to stop.” The one thing that strikes me most about the minister’s remarks, however, is his use of the terms “counter-education” and “counter-values” to describe the attempt to reassert decency and polite speech. The minister is probably right to assume that the contemporary “education” of the young and their “values” are more in the hands of rap artists than of schoolteachers.
I personally don’t think that the war against vulgarity is going to be won anytime soon (there are too many false assumptions about human nature and free expression that would first need to be exposed), but counteroffensives such as these are always encouraging to hear.