[image: Heading To First, 2009, JA Van Devender]
Ephesians 5:3–4 (NKJV)
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
It's officially Spring... the first day of the season. The infield is razor sharp, the crisp air invites excitement, and the teams have an edginess in their preparation that will not be matched again until two of them prepare to face off in the World Series in what seems a life time away. Baseball still claims the tenuous title of the National Sport. It is the only game that has the inherent qualities that would merit the title but it has long since lost the distinction of actually representing the nation. Now it is football or the fast rising & flashy soccer that not only has broader appeal but better reflects the tone and tenor of the nation. Pity.
Baseball, like chess, is for those who appreciate tension rather than excitement. It is a game of finesse, a duel (often) that has a hair-trigger edge to it. A snappy pitch that hangs just a fraction of a second too long allowing a sharp slapping hit through the infield, missing the diving short-stop's glove by a fraction of an inch, and the guy at second base rounds third and heads for home. Curt Flood (CF, Cardinals, 1964) sweeps up the ball on a dead run, never breaking stride, and in one, continuous ballet of motion, rockets the ball, never dropping more than a foot to Bob Uecker at home, just as the face high cleats of the sliding runner collide with his glove. He's out! The fans scream in appreciation... for both sides. It was well played and it could have gone the other way in a fraction of a second.
That's the charm, the beauty and the style of Baseball... as it should be. Today, the emphasis on homeruns has produced more lively baseballs and less tension. A hyper-active fan base wants continuous excitement rather than interest. Class and strategy have fallen prey to brute power. Football played on a diamond rather than a grid-iron. It's just not quite as bloody.
I think there's a rough parallel here with an article in today's NYT. (HERE) It's called The Case for Profanity in Print. What is really in view is not so much "profanity" as "vulgarity." The author thinks that the print news media (and by extension, the talking heads on TV) are causing people to be "left uninformed or baffled about the nature of a significant controversy" because, get this, the print media is replacing vulgar words with a single letter followed by symbols. Somehow or another, when quoting a politician or other "person of interest" when the ever present microphone of a long-range lens picks up a "salty" statement, the public is being deprived of its absolute right to know every stinking detail of incivility, crass character, lapse of judgment, of whatever else it is that some sinner displays. Furthermore, the average reader is so stupid that they can't fill in the blanks that the "letter + symbols" represent.
When you get right down to it... what is being advocated here is a condescension to crudity. It is one more crow-bar pull in the dismantling of civilized and polite behavior. It is not so much that crudity and coarse talk are something new. It is now the case that it's absence is somehow a detriment, an elitist cultural artifact of an essentially racist/classist/repressive society. Teachers are supposed to over-look it in the ordinary conversation of their students, else it may impart some negative judgment on the homelife, or culture of that young person. If it is not everywhere present in movies, or books, or television shows, then "it ain't real" and is therefore to be despised.
Coarse language is pornography in conversation. After a while it ceases to stimulate until more depravity and urgency is introduced. So... coarseness begets coarseness... and somewhere along the line, aspirations for being something "better than that" fall by the wayside.
Life is hard... but it doesn't have to be coarse, vulgar or depraved. We have choices... and we can learn to appreciate the use of language so as to add vibrancy, color and wit without having to resort of expletives and perverse sexual practices involving one's parents.
An over-emphasis on sensual experience, which is exactly what coarse language is, replaces the more sublime experience of intelligent conversation, warmth of expression and, again, wit. The play of words rather than the bludgeon of words is a means by which character is developed along with mental abilities. Coarseness of language is one more step toward barbarism and has more in common with apes pointing and grunting and showing their rear-ends in demonstration, than it has with being human.
Not only should our media refrain from republication of coarse language... millions of people ought to turn away in disgust from those comedians whose entire career is founded on it... and from those things offered up as art on the screen and by book-sellers wherein it is the dominant form of conversation between the characters.
An occasional word or two here and there is not too egregious. But life does not have to be portrayed and reinforced as being essentially uncivilized.
Baseball should represent the aspirations of a society, not football, and language should point us toward the nobility we lost in the garden and perhaps lead us to grieve at its absence. The only delight produced by washing ourselves in coarse language is the delight a hog has in soaking in water made filthy with his own manure. It does not commend us and quite frankly it causes us to stink pretty bad.