Washington’s Order Against Profanity

I am pleased to announce that Almost Chosen People has a very low level of cussing on its pages as certified here by the Blog and Website Cuss-O-Meter!

We live in a vulgar age of debased standards, and one example of this is the prevalence of unimaginative swearing.  Compare and contrast Blagojevich, impeached and removed Governor of Illinois, convicted felon and soon to be the fouth governor of Illinois to be sent to the slammer in the past four decades with this fine example of imaginative swearing from Macbeth:  “The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!  Where got’st thou that goose look?”  If one must swear, be imaginative about it!

To mask the fact that swearing today is unimaginative verbal filler, the shock value is upped with the all purpose F-Bomb.  I have written about the prevalence of the F-Bomb in contemporary American society here.  Today we live in the midst of a constant storm of profanity that has lost the ability to shock, but merely adds to the shabby quality of so much of modern life.

George Washington had a temper which he worked hard to control all his life.  He would occasionally swear when he gave vent to his anger, a vice he detested in himself and in others.  He made this clear in an order against swearing which he issued to the Continental Army on August 3, 1776:

The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing, a vice hitherto little known in our American Army is growing into fashion. He hopes that the officers will, by example as well as influence, endeavor to check it and that both they and the men will reflect that we can little hope of the blessing of Heaven on our army if we insult it by our impiety and folly. Added to this it is a vice so mean and low without any temptation that every man of sense and character detests and despises it.
George Washington

The order of Washington seems quaint in our eyes.  That reaction of course says nothing about Washington and his order and quite a bit about our profane age.

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Washington’s Order Against Profanity  
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