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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Irony on the Bus

In some of the articles I've written for various publications about Bleep!, I use the following introduction:

You’re walking on the street and pass a person. Let’s call her Jo. She’s dressed from head to toe in Prada and is talking on her cell phone, the newest BlackBerry. What do you think of her? You’re probably impressed by Jo’s style and obvious wealth. (After all, who doesn’t want the newest BlackBerry?) “What the f**k are you talking about?” she exclaims. What do you think of Jo now? I definitely think less of her for cursing. Because of my strong feelings against cursing, I created an organization called Bleep!, whose mission is to eradicate the usage of cursing among kids and teens today. Bleep!’s mission is not to tell people that it's illegal to curse; its mission is to illustrate the negative effects of cursing and show people the reasons they shouldn’t use bad words.

Recently, bizarrely enough, this situation actually happened to me.

I was sitting on the bus, and two well-dressed women got on and sat across from me. They were both wearing designer clothing, had expensive accessories, and were discussing their travels abroad and complaining about how people in foreign countries try to rip off Americans. The air they had about them was clearly upper class.

In the middle of their conversation, one of the women dropped the f-bomb. Ironic much?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pageants and Cursing

I recently started getting into the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras, which features little kids who participate in pageants. Yeah, I know, it's freaky, but bizarrely addictive. I noticed that a significant portion of these kids, who range in age from two to ten, will use bad words. They often call their parents or pageant coaches names.

I find this absolutely appalling. I mean, the show's name is TODDLERS and Tiaras - these are really little kids who do these pageants, and it's absolutely unacceptable that they not only have heard bad words, but use them. I can't automatically blame their parents for using those kinds of words around their children, since it's possible they learned the words from an outside source, but it's likely that they heard this language from family members.

I find this really ironic, since these girls are preparing to go into the big-time pageants like Miss America and Miss USA. The winners of these pageants are supposed to be wholesome, all-American girls, certainly not people that use bad words on a regular basis. While these pageants are obviously extremely troublesome, since they objectify women and create a societal value system for women based on beauty, at least they have one thing right - cursing is not the thing to do!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today, I was walking home when a man stopped me on the street and asked me where he could catch a bus going uptown. I directed him to a stop half a block down and told him that if he just kept walking, he'd hit it. Frustrated by the fact that he would have to continue walking, he let out a bad word.

I was bothered by this on many levels. An adult using a bad word while in conversation with a young person (especially one he or she is unfamiliar with) is just inappropriate, and makes for a poor example. I know that cursing has many negative effects, but a lot of people in my generation don't. Other teenagers may think (probably more on a subconscious level) "Well, if this man curses and he's an adult, then I can curse too!" Luckily, I know otherwise, but this man didn't know that when he used a bad word.

It's also just not appropriate for a someone to curse in front of a stranger. Just because I know what the words are doesn't mean I want to hear them!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


A number of years ago, long before I created Bleep!, a girl in my class decided to be (sarcasm alert) extremely mature and imitate someone who has Tourette's Syndrome. At the time, it bothered me a lot that she was acting that way. Now, when I think back on it, I realize how offensive and stupid she was being.

There are several medical conditions which cause a loss of censorship of speech. Tourette Syndrome is a brain condition that, among other symptoms, causes the patient to curse uncontrollably. Schizophrenia, a mental disorder that is characterized by misperceptions of reality, can cause people to act violently and curse. Bipolar disorder, a syndrome in which the patient cycles from being extremely manic to extremely depressed, can also cause uncontrollable cursing. People who have suffered from a stroke (which is like a heart attack in the brain) or other forms of bleeding in the brain can also lose control and curse. Other chemical imbalances and brain damage can cause uncontrollable cursing fits.
There are millions of people every year who suffer from these conditions and cannot control how they speak. A completely healthy person who has total control over everything they say and still curses is almost mocking the people who cannot.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Saving Up Bad Words

Obviously, we should all avoid bad words at all costs. I've always said that if you really want to curse, it's okay as long as it's in front of other people who don't mind hearing bad words. I think that bad words can also be acceptable in very specific situations when you want to make a point. All of my friends know that I can't stand cursing, so they know that if I do say an objectionable word, they know I'm really angry or trying to underscore something. When you don't ever use bad words and you suddenly use one, people will understand that you're trying to make a point.

I'm not trying to condone using bad words while you're angry or anything like that, but I think it's just an interesting point to note.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Watch It, Strangers

A while ago, my mom and I were hanging out at a local dog store with our friend, who works there. A woman came in. She acted extremely casual, cursing in every sentence and talking like she knew us. ("This bleeping dog bed costs forty dollars? That's bleeping crazy! It's a bleeping dog bed!" I remember her saying.) All three of us were really taken aback by the fact that she was speaking to us like we've been best friends with her for years when we had only met her a few minutes previously, but what really shocked and appalled us was the language she used. While it's certainly not recommended, if you want to curse with a friend who's okay with it, it's acceptable. However, if you're in the company of a bunch of people you never met before and you have no idea what their philosophies are, you definitely shouldn't be cursing indiscriminately.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Natural Reactions

A while ago, Bleep! member Ariella B. told me about a study she heard about. People were told to place their hands into buckets of freezing water. The first time, they weren't allowed to say anything, and had to be completely silent. The second time, they were allowed to say anything they wanted to, including curse words. Participants agreed that the water hurt their hands much less the second time around, when they were allowed to scream out whatever they wanted to, and curse.

This makes total sense. It's the reason it's a natural reaction to say "ow!" when we stub our toes against a wall, why we flinch when something gets too close to our faces. However, you can say "ow!" and yell and scream and express your pain, but you don't have to use curse words. It's just unnecessary. The English language is so rich, and has so many words for different occasions. Why not use an alternative to a bad word?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stop the Word to End the Word

I've always loved the TV show Glee, which contains characters from every walk of life and shows that diversity is a good thing. I was pleasantly surprised when the show first introduced Becky (portrayed by Lauren Potter), a girl with Down Syndrome. I was even happier when I saw the "Not Acceptable" PSA starring Potter and Jane Lynch, which says that the word retarded (from hereon out the r word), among other ethnic slurs, is unacceptable. (Seriously, watch the video below. I mean it.)

I've posted about the r word in the past (here and here), and even changed my stance on the word because of a Bleep! member (here). I wholeheartedly believe in everything stated in the above PSA, and I hope that everyone who watches it at least tries to make an effort to stop using the r word.

The organization who released the PSA is called R-Word, and its motto is "spread the word to end the word." I took the pledge, which states, "I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities." I hope you all do it, too! The Bleep! Twitter now follows the R-Word, and the Bleep! YouTube channel subscribes to the R-Word's channel, too. I urge you all to do the same with your personal accounts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Respect Others' Opinions

I know someone who runs this absolutely amazing blog, and we've become friends through it. I completely look up to her, because she is so extremely smart, savvy, ambitious, and a real go-getter. I was reading an article she posted a little while ago, and she included a video. She put a disclaimer that the video contains "profanity...and all that bleeping bleep." (Clearly, she used the real words there.)

When I read that, it really almost hurt to see. From reading other pieces of hers, I knew that she doesn't have a problem cursing every once in a while, but it bothered me that she would poke fun at people who feel uncomfortable with bad words. I understand if she personally has no problem cursing, and if she wants to, then I hope she enjoys herself when she uses bad words (provided she only uses them in conversation with others who feel the same way). However, I think it wasn't so nice of her to mock people who do care about bad words the way she did. All I'm asking for is respect for my beliefs. She doesn't need to agree with them - it would just be appreciated if she would respect them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Idiots on the Bus

I was on the bus the other day, and there was a young woman sitting a few seats behind me talking on the phone. She wasn't cursing like a sailor - in fact, the only bad word she said was "what the h**l!" - but she kept saying things like, "Oh, she's such an idiot," and "That's really stupid." It was a relatively quiet bus, so it really broke into the silence when she was using harsher terms. I'm not trying to blast her for using words like idiot and stupid; I, and most people out there, use them every day. However, the experience was an eye-opener for me, since it made me see that those kinds of words really just don't sound nice, especially in public.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bridezillas and Cursing

I've recently become addicted to the TV show Bridezillas, which documents brides who go absolutely crazy planning their weddings. While there are many things bridezillas have in common, I've noticed that every bride I've seen is a potty mouth. Many of them don't care who they're cursing at, ranging from innocent workers at flower shops and tailors to their own parents. They also don't really care who's around them when they're cursing, even little children.

I think anyone who's ever watched the show would agree that the bridezillas featured are some of the most selfish, snobbish, obnoxious, disgusting human beings put on this earth. I just find it interesting that all these horrible people curse.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Don't Curse in Front of Clients

There's a dog boutique on my block that my mom and I hang out at a lot. (We joke that we spend more time there than the people who work there do.) As a result, we know the workers there really well, as well as the owner of the store. She curses a lot, but it's just part of how she speaks, and it would be disrespectful of me to tell her to stop (although she does know about Bleep!). Once, as we were hanging out at the store, there was also a customer there. She got a phone call and began cursing her head off very loudly at the person on the other line, in complete earshot of the customer, without even trying to filter her mouth or be quieter. The worker, my mom, and me exchanged looks. I'm still in disbelief, to be honest. We all thought it was extremely unprofessional and just plain inappropriate of the owner to curse so indiscriminately in front of a customer. We didn't say anything to her, because it wasn't our place, but I really would have liked to show her the Bleep! site. Cursing in the workplace, especially in front of clients, is just inappropriate. When my mom worked in an office, she said that a lot of people cursed among coworkers, but never in front of a client - it's just no protocol, and looks unprofessional. I just hope that customer wasn't turned off by the owner's behavior, since it's a really great dog store!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Awesome Article!

I recently read an article in Time Magazine that discusses the negative effects of using gestures to convey bad words. I absolutely love it, as it completely backs up Bleep!'s philosophy with scientific research! You can read it here if you're interested. DISCLAIMER: the article does get explicit about the gesture, so read at your own risk.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thoughts on the Word Retarded

I was recently at a sleepover with a bunch of friends, and we decided to visit one of my friend's brothers, who lives in a group home. We went, and it was a really nice experience that was much less scary than I anticipated it would be. As we left, I wondered what would have happened if someone had said, "Oh, that's so retarded" or something to that effect while we were around several mentally challenged individuals and advocates for them. Clearly lightning would not have struck them down, but I'm sure there would have been an awkward silence or even a gasp or two, several scandalized people, and a lot of apologies from the person who said the offensive word. I know that I was watching my mouth even more than I usually do to make sure that I didn't say anything that I would regret later on. I realized that I should be just as watchful even when I'm not around mentally challenged people. The word retarded is really just a horrible word that shouldn't ever be used, and I know that I'm going to do my best to stop saying it in the future.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bleeping Out Words

I was idly scrolling through this blog...and something stood out to me; your decision to partially blank out the word 'd**n' in this post (I'll do the same since I suspect my comment might not get through otherwise). Realising that you're writing it that way so that readers will still gain context of what was actually said, I'd like to point out that for someone who's crusading against swearing, you are still putting that word into people's heads when you write it like that. A**hole may as well not have the two stars. Same with...bas**rd, s**t....All you're doing is putting up a front of delicacy while the very word you're trying to avoid is still planted directly into the minds of whoever is reading the partially censored swearword. My suggestion, to avoid hypocrisy, is to either write it in full as a disapproving but mature witness or leave the whole thing out completely....

As stated in my previous post, before you can comment on here on the Bleep! blog, I have to approve the comment (I don't want people to curse in the comments section, after all - that would kinda defeat the whole point of Bleep!). After whiting out the particularly obnoxious comments the author made and the author's name, I decided to share this comment.

Like the commenter I discuss in the post linked to above, this commenter (let's call him or her Z) is discussing this post, about a newspaper reporter I emailed regarding an article about Bleep! who responded to me using profanity. (I think the reporter may have emailed the post to his friends and ask them to comment, since I've gotten loads of obnoxious comments on that one, which is highly unusual.)

Z does bring a point that I've thought about for a while, though: starring out parts of bad words. It would be almost impossible not to use the actual word - sometimes I just have to quote it, otherwise the sentence just won't make any sense. While I try to avoid using them when I can, there are times when I really just have to. However, I don't want to use the actually word, since that kind of defeats the whole point of Bleep!, doesn't it? I also don't want to teach it to anyone who might not have heard the word before; if part or most of it is starred out, you know it exists, but not the actual word. It's obviously not preferable, but the only way I can see it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Do You Think Less of People?

Before you can comment on here on the Bleep! blog, I have to approve the comment (I don't want people to curse in the comments section, after all - that would kinda defeat the whole point of Bleep!). I found the above comment in my moderation folder today. After whiting out the particularly obnoxious comments the author made and the author's name, I decided to share this comment.

The author of the comment (let's call him or her X) is discussing this post, about a newspaper reporter I emailed regarding an article about Bleep! who responded to me using profanity. Honestly, X is probably right in one sense, since I doubt the reporter cares if I, or anyone else, thinks less of him. He cursed at me; he knew he was being extremely obnoxious and immature.

I disagree with X that the reporter's paper and community doesn't care if I think less of it because of the reporter's actions, however. My mother used to work in an insurance office. I know that if she or any of her coworkers would have cursed while with a client, their superiors would be extremely upset, since it doesn't look good for the company. I do think less of the paper now that one of their reporters cursed at me like that, and I have to assume that the paper would care that there's someone out there who thinks less of them. I'm going to apply this concept to the reporter's community, also. I know that I would care if someone, even the most random person in the most random place, would think less of me, my school, or my community because of my actions.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pink, Why Do You Have to Curse?

I have always been a HUGE Pink fan. When I say HUGE, I mean HUGE. While she does use bad words in quite a few songs, I'm willing to forgive her for it, because she is so extremely talented and has such amazing music. Her latest song, "F**kin' Perfect," is a completely beautiful song giving inspiration to people who feel they're less than perfect. The video is also beautiful, albeit a little graphic.

It bothers me to no end that the song uses the f word so much. Why? What's the point? She could have used "freakin' perfect" just as easily, or some other intensifier like "completely perfect" or "totally perfect" or something. (I'm not a songwriter. They could have figured it out, I'm sure.) I find it so annoying that the f word is used so copiously for no real reason, and it kind of ruins such an amazingly beautiful song for me. I suppose this is why censored versions of songs exist...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just a Bus Driver...

A while ago, when I still rode on the school bus, there was a kindergartener who shared the stop with me. His mom and my mom became relatively friendly. Once, after there was some issue with the bus driver, his mother said, "That bus driver thinks he's so great - he's just a f**king bus driver!" Right in front of her child. I kid you not.

When I first heard it, I completely did not process for a few seconds, I was so shocked that she would say such an extremely strong word in front of her five-year-old child. (She also had a three-year-old in the house.) Once I did process what she said, I was shocked and appalled. Wasn't she at all afraid that her child would repeat what she said? Did she really want her child to walk around cursing out the world with a word like the f bomb?

While there are many people who feel there are no problems with cursing, most feel that you have to curb your tongue around children, since bad words are simply inappropriate for little ones. I feel that cursing is inappropriate for all people, but especially when there's a child around. (I talk about this on the Bleep! site on the Little Children and Cursing page.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cursing on YouTube

One of my old friends recently started uploading a few YouTube videos of herself. I haven't had contact with her in a while, but since I subscribe to her channel, the videos got sent directly into my inbox. Her first video was just of her talking about herself, and she casually used the s and f words as she spoke. Her second video was of her with some friends, and they were all just casually throwing a lot of bad words into conversation. The third was a list of things that annoy her (she used another, less savory word, however), and she used some bad words that were completely unnecessary.

Honestly, I was a little bit horrified. I knew that she cursed when I wasn't around, but still, it really surprised me when I heard her use such strong bad words in such a casual, unneeded way. I didn't think that much of her in the first place (there's a reason we haven't had contact in a while), but after seeing these videos, I really have no intention of making contact with her again.

Additionally, it's a really poor decision to curse so indiscriminately online. If you say a curse word out loud, people will always remember it; however, they don't have "proof" that you cursed. Once it's online, however, it will be there FOREVER, and there is no way you can erase it. I just hope that my friend doesn't come to regret all those YouTube videos she made as a kid using such horrible words.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rebbetzin Kanievsky on Watching Our Mouths

A member of Bleep!, Dassi G., shared this letter from Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky's wife with me, and I thought I would share it with all of you. While Rebbetzin Kanievsky is discussing Jewish concepts, I think they apply to people of all faiths.

The situation [today] is very difficult. We are suffering terrible losses, many orphans and widows from different diseases. My husband, the rabbi, was asked what could be the reason for all these tragedies.The rabbi opened [the Talmud] and said it's because of foul language.And how can we correct ourselves? Only by watching what we say.

I read an article written by Rabbi Segal from Manchester who writes:

"Never did I see a person who learned two halachot (Jewish laws) of shemirat halashon (guarding of the language) every day and didn't see salvation from above, whether in children...good health, [wealth], or bringing up the children. He had promised that whoever will learn [shemirat halashon], he will be his defender in Heaven." And we witnessed miracles that happened to people who took upon themselves two halachot every day and saw help.

...A...story is about a woman who came to us about a year ago with great sorrow saying that she'd been married for 20 years and she didn't have children. I advised her to learn two halachot every day and [thank God] she conceived and now has a month old baby boy.

And another story: A few weeks ago a woman came to me, broken and crying, and said that her mother is in the hospital with a growing tumor. She asked what she could take upon herself to help. Again, I advised that the entire family learn two halachot of shemirat halashon every day. Two days later she returned and asked of me to tell her story and the miracle that happened. She said that the entire family gathered and decided to learn two halachot daily and two days later they received a phone call from the hospital saying to come and pick up the mother, the tumor is gone and she is in good health.

I hear many miracles such as these. And now, we should all take upon learn two halachot of shemirat halashon every day...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"She Used a Bathroom Word!"

I was at my friend's house, and her four-year-old brother was hanging out with us. My friend and I were joking around, and I used the word tushy, which I think we all agree is not a bad word. Her younger brother piped in, laughing, "She used a bathroom word!"

We all thought this was hilariously funny (and it really was very cute). My friend's brother had a point, though: I probably shouldn't have said tushy in his presence, since it is considered a bathroom word to four-year-olds. Obviously, it is not a bad word for those of us past preschool, and I must prefer using tushy to the many other vulgar and inappropriate terms out there. However, next time I'm around little ones, I really should think twice before I speak.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Goodness, I feel old...2011 sounds like a year out of a futuristic book...

Bleep! has seriously grown this past year. It's been published in 15 different media outlets, has gotten somewhere near 600 more members, and been exposed to students at Manhattan Day School, Hillel Day School of Boca Raton, an ethics class at Congregation Beth Or, and other schools and youth groups. Bleep! also ran the Dr. Nathan and Sara Hoffman Competition, which encouraged Bleep! members to invite their friends to join until Bleep! got to 613 members. Shifra S., Nechama G., Elianna S., and Sarah A. referred the most members, and Atara F. was the 613th.

Since its inception in August 2009, Bleep! has really impacted society: so far, there are over 700 members from 27 states and ten countries, and hits on the Web site from every state and 101 countries!

Hopefully Bleep! will continue on the successful route it has been so far!