Letter: Pittsfield must clean up its language
To the editor of THE EAGLE:
A friend who works as a substitute at Morningside Elementary School has said that one of the behavioral problems at Morningside requiring disciplinary action is the use of vulgar language during school and in classrooms.
I am concerned about young people in Pittsfield and their use of vulgarity in speech. This summer I have witnessed young people, ages 10-19 and up, use the "F" word casually and aggressively in conversations with each other and in the presence of strangers.
Just the other day my son, age nine, and I were at Onota Lake jumping off some rocks on the banks of the wooded picnic area between the brown boathouse and the fishermen’s dock. Two boys and a girl ages 13-19 were swimming there too and there was not a sentence spoken between them that did not contain the "F" word. My son looked at me in a bewildered way when hearing them talk. Yes, he has heard the word before, even from me. But as he gets older, I am working on changing my habits of speech.
I want to change partly so that he doesn’t habitually use vulgar language, and get himself into trouble at school and partly just for myself, to move out of ways of speaking that I don’t find appealing or acceptable anymore.
I recently also heard young children on bicycles yelling vulgarities at each other through the windows of my car as I drove through Pittsfield. What comes up for me when I hear vulgar language being used around me is fear. I feel threatened when I hear vulgar language and I believe that is because of this type of language’s history of being used during moments of anger, aggression, violence and futility.
I am not sure how we as a community can influence families and individuals to change their habits of speech or if we as a community want to. But I think working towards choosing language that does not include vulgarity is a positive and beneficial goal and I personally would feel more comfortable and safer living in a community of people who, as the norm, choose language that does not include vulgarity.
The June/July window display at the Amazingnet store, a local "adult" shop, is apparently meant to tie in with camping season. The display has in big letters- "F’ing In Tents" above a photo of four feet hanging out of a tent in the woods.
I fear that we are moving towards becoming a community where using vulgar language in social and professional settings is the norm. If a business is allowed to use this type of language in a public window display I don’t see how children can be punished for using the same language in everyday life and in our schools.
I want to thank Pittsfield City Councilor Christopher Connell for hearing my thoughts on this and for taking action. As of Monday, June 23 the ad was still up but the offending word was covered by a piece of paper.