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More Change in the Air

Taboos begin to loosen.

by James Leroy Wilson
February 25, 2014

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More Change in the Air

Last October, I reflected on how change is in the air, reflected by changes from college football to foreign policy to gay marriage to marijuana.

The changes will only gain momentum.

Recently, a Girl Scout sold 117 boxes of cookies in two hours outside a medical marijuana dispensary in California. The real story isn't about the volume of sales, but rather that the mother had no problem selling outside that location. It can make a powerful impression on the girl, as it indicates that marijuana usage is no longer viewed as taboo among parents or their children.

I wouldn't be surprised, then, if the number of states legalizing medical or recreational marijuana explodes in the next ten years.

It's not dissimilar to the gradual acceptance of homosexuality and ultimately gay marriage.

The loosening of social mores is noticeable elsewhere. Years ago, commercial cable television held pretty close to the standards the FCC imposed on broadcast networks. Then sitcoms like It''s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Louie would employ some of the more minor swear words on the FX channel. Their programs were shown in the last hour of prime time. I believe Comedy Central, when it ran Sunny reruns, did not censor the show in primetime, though WGN did run a censored version in late night.

As my viewing habits have changed - that is, have been reduced - it took me aback last week when I stumbled on a late afternoon showing of the 1987 R-rated movie Midnight Run on the AXS channel.  It contained all the f-words in the original, and it was said almost every sentence. I was surprised such language was featured so early in the day, even though that network's Gotham Comedy Live, airing at night, may feature even "dirtier" words.

What is this telling me?

Advertisers are no longer afraid of sponsoring content like this.  They're apparently not afraid that the programs they sponsor will offend people just because of the vulgar language.

Apparently, there's been a gradual desensitization of these words as generations have gotten older and social media is littered with it.

It's not an aesthetically pleasing development; profanities are best employed rarely and for humor. But it's not a horrible development either; I'd have no moral problem if I worked for a company that advertised on these shows. 

What's positive is that these changes, from language to sex, to drugs, reflect a growing tolerance of what was previously taboo. The coming generation may have more of a "live and let live" view toward others than any previous generation, with just a few dead-enders willing to keep "culture war" issues alive.

If I'm am correct, the  prospects for continued social peace and greater liberty seem promising.

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