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There are fine lines these days between polite language, vulgar language, and politically incorrect language

Joe Maddon, the manager of the Cubs, was asked a while back what the Cubs' game plan for the season would be. "Try not to suck," he replied. The phrase became the theme of a T-shirt sold to benefit charity.

And the Cardinals- who have an aversion to the word "suck," not allowing T-shirts using the word into Busch Stadium even when they refer to cancer- promptly banned the shirts bearing the Maddon phrase as well, asking Cub fans wearing them to the recent series between the two teams to either remove them or turn them inside out.

On one hand, in today's culture, the word even when as a synonym for "behave or perform badly" is not considered vulgar. Maddon- perhaps tongue in cheek- claims not to even understand why anybody would consider it offensive. The reason, of course, is that the term achieved its meaning in the sense that Maddon used it as a synonym for fellatio. I find it a little hard to believe that Joe doesn't realize that.

But it's a sign of the times. "Friggin" is commonly used these days as if it were to a certain other word beginning with "F" as "darn" used to be to "damn," back when "damn" was considered bad language. Of course, it's not. It's a synonym for the other "F" word and in its original usage every bit as vulgar. But a great many people with limited vocabularies didn't know that and mistakenly took it for the equivalent of "Battle Star Galactica's" use of "fracking-" a word which people might understand to stand for a vulgarity without actually being vulgar itself. Popular culture working the way it does, it soon became in common usage exactly what people mistakenly took it as being in the first place. Nobody, even on network TV, bats an eyelash at a character saying "friggin" anymore. It's become an accepted party of polite discourse pretty much everywhere.

Interestingly, my spelling correction program even knows the word. I originally wrote "friggin'," which is, of course, the original form of the term, a contracted gerund. It responded by underlining the word in red and asking, "Did you mean friggin?"

On one hand, I deplore both the ignorance which leads to this sort lexicological mutation and the coarsening of the culture which makes the use of such words with their original meaning so common. And I can see the Cardinals' point. I suppose an additional reason for the team's special sensitivity to the term might be political correctness, seeing its pejorative use as an affront to the gay community. Actually, I suspect that is likely the real issue, which is sad in still another way.

But c'mon, Joe. I find it hard to believe that you're naive enough not to know where the term comes from.

HT: Yardbarker


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