With comedian George Carlin's passing on Sunday, I couldn't help but try to recall - from memory - his famous seven dirty words.
I was still in high school when the whole hoopla about what you could and couldn't say on radio and TV was up for debate. There were no computers, no "Google" and no one in Martinsville, Va., would be caught dead saying those "words."
I heard at least three of them on a routine basis from the members of the football team!
Well, the whole debate eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, and those judges decided in 1978 (five to four) that, yes, the seven "filthy words" were indeed pretty filthy.
As Carlin so famously uttered after the verdict: "They made up a whole new category of filth for me. It wasn't obscene -- indecent. And they said you can't play it when kids might listen."
Today, just an hour's worth of reality competition shows (on cable, of course) will expose viewers to the same three words I heard often in high school. At least one of the words has appeared in The Bee in reference to someone being upset with something or someone else. In its adjective form, it translates to P.O.'ed. Not quite the same word as Carlin had in mind, but close enough.
The other four words are still incredibly offensive, even to someone who has been known to drop a few foul utterances - under intolerable circumstances, of course.
So, even as we've progressed in our desire to maintain decorum and good taste, it was George Carlin who gave us some choice words to ponder a generation ago.