|As we fight Terrorism
in foreign lands, are we losing the battle here on our own streets?
Are we neglecting the Terror inflicted on a child by negligence and
oversight of our tongues? In England, Prime Minister Tony Blair,
is launching a major "anti-social" campaign to clean up the streets of
London. Part of that includes the foul language that Terrorizes
our children's ears. Do we have as much a duty to protect
our children from language that assaults and batteries their ears as
we do to protect them from Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
You be the judge!
Sunday--November 24, 2002—Ground Zero Plus
Assault & Battery
With A Terrorist Tongue
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Nov. 24 --Each
day, thousands of cases of assault and battery are committed by Verbal
Terrorists upon children, yet they go unpunished. Perhaps it's time
to stop them.
Assault is defined as the
unauthorized use of threat of force against another; battery is
unauthorized (unlawful) touching of another. In other words, if
one raises his or her fist in a threatening gesture without provocation,
that act can be considered assault. If one touches another
without their permission, that can be considered battery.
When I went to law school a few years
ago to reinvent myself after my cancer operation, I was amazed to find
that law's purpose was establish "moral barriers" for a peaceful society.
While we often think of law in America as a litigious virus where everyone
sues anyone for anything, its real goal is to provide order in society so
peaceful coexistence can occur.
Page from Mark
Long ago the Church provided
the moral laws of a society. Religious leaders were the
judges, and often the prosecutors ended up winning the case against the
person and inflicting terrible pain and suffering--sometimes burning the
victim or torturing him or her to death.
Law split its relationship with
religion and provided a secular state of penalty, where civil and criminal
law imposed penalties for anti-social behavior--behavior counter
productive to a society's right to peace. Crimes such as assault,
battery, rape, murder, theft, larceny, embezzlement, murder were tried by
the state. Citizens also could take their complaints to civil
courts where instead of jail time, monetary fines were imposed to sanction
someone for violating the "rights of others."
The O.J. Simpson case is the
most modern example, where the criminal courts found him not guilty but
the civil courts held him liable for the deaths of his former wife and her
friend. Criminal courts require a unanimous verdict to form a
guilty plea, while civil courts require only a majority. In
civil law there can be "reasonable doubt" but if the majority believes the
individual violated "civil law," the verdict holds up.
This brings us to the need to
prosecute Verbal Terrorism, especially when it is attacks the
I'm talking about foul
language in front of children.
On the streets of New
York City, as well as other compressed areas of urban life, people use the
foulest language one can imagine as though they were sitting in the
privacy of their homes, or in a gym, or a bar, with utter neglect to the
vitriolic impact those words have on children walking with parents or
grandparents next to them, or babies in strollers.
Often the "F" word is
used as an adjective to modify every other word, or a verb, or a noun, or
any part of speech imaginable. It is said as though the
speaker were bellowing into a loudspeaker with total disregard to the
youthful ears that hear everything, whose tympanum membranes sponge up the
aurial world faster than a Bounty commercial paper towel.
Certainly, under the
definition of assault, such language forms a threat to the children, and
the fact the words "unlawfully touch" the children's ears qualifies them
Under the precepts of law,
spoken language moves as a result of disturbing molecules. Words
bounce off the molecules separating the speaker from the child and
literally crash against the fragile formative eardrum, setting up vibrations that
ring the sounds into the child's mind. Literally,
through the physics of speech and hearing, the words "touch" the child's
body--his or her ear drums. They do so in an unauthorized
way--intending to create harm to the child.
The law says there
is no excuse for ignorance of the law. Ignorance is not a
defense. The law says the "agent of harm knew or should have known."
The penalty for ignorance is liability, culpability.
Further evidence of
the harmful impact of foul, invective language used in public near or
neglectful of a child's earshot is the prosecutorial issue of "intent."
Did the person "intend" to cause harm?
Those who use foul
or invective language with impunity around the presence of children in
public places have little defense against "intent." If on a
witness stand and asked the question: "Do you believe using foul
language in the presence of a young child is harmful to the child," few
could argue that such language is "not harmful." Put another
way, if the defendant was asked, "If you were sitting in a room with your
three-year-old child present and someone was sitting across from you using
foul language in the presence of your child, would you consider that an
assault on your child's "right to innocence?" Or, "Would you
consider that an insult to your child? To you? To society?"
Or, "Do you think an adult has the right to speak foul, invective language
in the presence of a child?"
much wiggle room in those questions, and few if any would stand up for the
right of an adult to assault a child with foul language, yet it happens
every day, thousands upon thousands of times by people speaking with utter
neglect to the innocence that may exist around them.
If Terrorism is
defined as the indiscriminate assault on the innocent with intent to
commit harm so that a society will suffer Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency as a result, then one who flushes out the sewage of foul
language in the presence of children, then they become a Verbal Terrorist.
They are attacking
a child's innocence with indiscriminate intent. Their
ignorance of the child's presence is not a defense. Their
selfish use of public molecules to express themselves with foul language
does not fall within the First Amendment when the price of that speech
infringes on the child's Right of Innocence.
In my argument for Verbal
Terrorism I distinguish the difference between an adult and a child.
If an adult is walking and listening to such language, an adult has the
right to ask that person not to use such language, or to move away from
the person using it. The right of Free Speech has not been
violated between consenting adults.
But foul language issued
in and around a child who does not have the right to move out of the way
or to confront the speaker as to the offensive nature of the language has
his or her Rights of Innocence violated. There should be a
price paid for those who violate that right.
And what about the parents, the
guardians of the children? Are they liable for putting a child
at risk by taking a child out into the streets?
Walking a child along the streets
does not guarantee to any parent that someone may or may not use foul
language. While a parent can speed up or slow down to avoid
such language permeating the child's ears, the damage has been done.
Only when a parent intentionally puts a child at risk to Verbal Terrorism
is that parent subject to liability.
If I sound a
bit puritanical, I am. But I also know the language of
Terrorism well. I'm a former Marine with a vocabulary that can match
any foul gutter talk pro. But that doesn't mean I can't
control my language just as I control my rage and anger. I
realize my language can be spears, piercing the ears of the innocent.
I control myself and clip my tongue, and if I use foul language by
accident in the presence of a child, then I am guilty of Verbal Terrorism
and should be held liable. I have no right to impose the ugliness of
foul language into the innocence of a child's mind.
Notice posted at a
soccer game in England in 1993
I often talk about the Beast of
Terror within us, and how we must use Courage, Conviction and Right
Actions to leash the Beast's Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
We, as a society of Vigilance, must seek out Terrorism of all shapes and
sizes and neutralize their impact on our society if we are to stand up as
Sentinels of Vigilance and serve as role models of Vigilance for the
America's posture as the Global Police of
Terrorism demands we evolve our society above the level of the gutter
where Terrorism breeds, and it is often expressed by the tip of our tongue
in the form of foul language--the language of Complacency, the language of
Free Speech is not a defense.
Speech which injures the innocent is not free. We have no right to
Terrorize the young, malleable minds of children to serve our selfish
needs. If we do, we should be held accountable and pay the
I was stirred to write about this subject
after reading what was happening in England. Tony Blair, the
Prime Minister of England, has launched a campaign to clean up London.
His goal is to crack down on "loutish behavior," which includes garbage
and trash, vandalism, anti-social neighbors, graffiti and truancy and
"low-level aggression." British Home Secretary David Blunkett
calls the Vigilance effort an assault on "low-level thuggery that makes
people's lives a misery."
Trafalgar Square trash
Paula Field, a local Antisocial Behavior
Officer in the Tameside area near Manchester said: "Every public
meeting I go to, every residence association I go to, every
problem-solving group that I set up, the main issues is people causing
annoyance and antisocial behavior."
The issue of Terrorism, I believe, far
exceeds the headlines of War With Iraq, or the Hunt For Bin Laden.
Terrorism is something that creeps into a society and slowly knocks away
the foundation of its children's moral constitution until any high ground
is so far out of reach that one stops trying to find it.
Language is one of the crumbling foundations.
I'm not for new laws. I'm not
for Verbal Police ticketing people who use foul language around children.
I'm not for society forcing itself to stand on firm moral grounds under
threat of civil or criminal penalty if they don't, for I most concerned
about who makes up the laws, and who administers them.
But at the same time, I have three
grandchildren, ages six, four and five months. When I take them
outside, I have no defense against the sniper shots of foul words that
strike their ears. I can push their stroller faster, or challenge
whomever is speaking, risking a violent confrontation because they "have a
right to be foul mouthed."
I'd like to see the right to be
foul-mouthed in public, in the presence of children, criminalized.
It is already. It is a crime to use the suicide bomb of foul
language in a crowd where one has no idea what children are present.
I've found that women as well as men are equally responsible for such
issuances. They remind me of suicide bombers strapping to their
chests "word bombs" that explode upon a child's ears and sink deep into
their innocence, soiling it just a little here, and a little there.
No Mother or Father of Vigilance would promote
the use of such language as a "right of an adult" in the presence of a
child. But the Beast of Terror would.
In England, maybe the first priority to
cleaning up the rubbish of the streets should be begin with the rubbish of
the mouth. It has been said that "So as one speaks, so does
one think." If one speaks in rubbish, foul-mouthed garbage, then
one's mind must be cluttered with the same waste. If one
thinks about what he or she says before saying it, perhaps the moral
garbage disposal can chew up the foul language and only that which is fit
for a child will exit.
Vigilance with the tongue is just as
important as Vigilance with a Sword.
Cleaning up the pollution of foul
language can drive the Beast of Terror one step back to his
cave, and help our children, and their children's children's
children be a little more innocent for a little longer.
It is a right we owe them.
Up Terrorism With A Pretty Bow
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