Recently a small firestorm erupted among the readers/commenters at the Charis Connection. The issue? Obscenity/profanity in Christian fiction. You may be amazed that this is an issue at all–especially since Christians are commanded to be watchful, for we shall give an account of every idle word–but an issue it is. Even after I googled “profanity” and “lazy writing” and found over 800 sources who agree that the former equals the latter, other folks were offended that we should equate the two.
Well. This morning I was plowing through my stack of newspapers and ran across a Wall Street Journal editorial by John McWhorter. Mr. McWhorter reports that Mr. Russell Simmons of Def Jam records has called for a voluntary ban on the “n-word, bitch, and ho” in rap music. He suggested those words be bleeped out when music with them is broadcast. In addition, the NAACP has spearheaded a STOP campaign “aimed at combating the use of these words, and the imagery associated with them, in popular culture.”
This, opines the WSJ, “is a moment for the history books.”
“The idea that black people ought now sit back and savor the ‘reality’ of abusive language, including the same word that the Bull Connors of the world once hurled at us in all of its ‘reality,’ is in essence lazy,” says Mr. McWhorter.
If rap music–which comes from the streets–is cleaning up its act, why do some insist that Christian novelists should wallow in the mud? The logic continually eludes me. A writer does not need to borrow verbatim from gutter language to make a point. Dialogue, after all, is not a transcript, it is a representation of speech, and a truly creative writer can represent that speech and intention without resorting to language that offends.
If that requires us to think a little harder, so be it.
LOL. I suppose we owe a tip of the cap to Don Imus. Something good has sprouted from his ranting.