The Two Extremes of American Society

I was looking around the web over the weekend and came across a story that, for most readers, would have very little effect. I scanned it and reacted similarly. I thought, okay, big deal.

A few hours later, I went back to it.

The story was of a woman who was arrested for swearing at her two kids in a Kroger supermarket in North Augusta, South Carolina. MailOnline reported: “A mother of two in South Carolina has been cuffed, hauled off to jail, and charged with disorderly conduct after she allegedly yelled at her kids to ‘stop squishing the f***ing bread‘ at a grocery store.”

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Danielle Wolfe, 22, was arrested under a city ordinance in North Augusta, South Carolina, which makes it a crime, punishable by up to 30 days in jail, to “utter while in a state of anger, in the presence of another, any bawdy, lewd or obscene words or epithets”.

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Evidently, another shopper called police to the Kroger store about 10 PM on Sunday to report that Ms. Wolfe was swearing at her children in public.

The woman told Officer Travis Smith that she approached Ms. Wolfe and asked her to stop using foul language toward the children. Ms. Wolfe responded by turning the foul language toward her. Ms. Wolfe appears to be a real class act.

Well, good on that lady. That’s how it should be handled, kind of. The calling the police part is over the top.

North Augusta Police Lt. Tim Thornton added: “You can’t go someplace in public venues and use that kind of language in the state of South Carolina.”

Well, I hate to break the news to you Lieutenant, but everyone already is.

Ms. Wolfe denied she was swearing at her children. She claims she was swearing at her husband over some frozen pizzas that he tossed on top of the bread in their shopping cart.

Oh, that’s much better, berating your husband in front of the children.

And why would anyone be surprised by this lady – swearing. This is how Americans speak. They really do. Every day, at the gym, I am witness to this, and not by some uneducated 22-year-old Gila monster who drags her young children out at 10 at night. No, these are young college-educated men, who work at local high-tech firms. I’m talking engineers, salesman, managers. Every other word is f***ing this and f***ing that. To me, it sounds completely ignorant and utterly unnecessary. Heck, even when I was a sailor I never swore like that.

Now this lady is never going to win mother of the year, but I don’t think she should have been arrested, certainly not in public and in front of her children. That’s just wrong. Yes, she did technically “break the law,” but really. The cop probably went back to the station house and laughed with his buddies about how he f***ing arrested this f***ing b***ch for f***ing swearing. If he is under the age of 30, I can almost guarantee it.

On its face and on its own, the story is nothing but a little sidebar – yet, it’s also an indicator of two extremes, and I’m not sure which is worse.

On one hand it’s another indication of the coarsening of our society, the desensitizing of language running parallel with the desensitizing of sex and violence. It’s become harder and harder to recognize the “outrageous.” This is a real problem.

Look at the web -YouTube, etc. and see that some of the most popular “viral” videos are actually the ones that demonstrate love – kindness – charity toward others. And why? Because it’s becoming less common.

Now, on the flip side is the old slippery slope argument. Arresting someone for swearing in public can lead only to speech police. It can and will, already has on college campuses, lead to other words that can’t be uttered. What’s next? “Dateline, Washington DC: This just in. 25 fans arrested at a football game for shouting ‘Go Redskins.'”

Think it can’t happen? Tell that to the man who was forced to resign for using the term “niggardly,” or the guy who was hauled in by college campus police and questioned about an incident where he shouted at a group of black sorority sisters to “Shut up, you water buffalo…”

So again, I’m not sure which extreme is worse. How about this.

How about we try to reestablish a society where common sense and common decency are the cornerstones.

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