Point / Counterpoint – Fuck Yeah / Heck No – Strong Language and the “Mature Masculine”  

HECK NO – Hon. Steven Cohen, MDI General Counsel

A few months ago, the term “Funny Shit” appeared in a publication (our newsletter) that can be accessed by the general public.  I, along with other men took issue with the use of this language.  I believe that as long as our Code of Honor includes the term “Be an Example to Children” and as long as our purpose includes “… serving all men, woman and children for the betterment of humanity” the word “shit” as well as any other four letter word need to find another home.

We are attempting to “adjust” our image. And, we are also doing what we can to end abuse in our own way.  We have accomplished an amazing message by showing “wins” of our men in the newsletters we publish.  Why detract from that image by using language that may be offensive to children and woman?

In a past newsletter, our President appeared with a picture of his daughter.  Men appeared with pictures of their children.  “Funny Shit” just detracts from the image and good work we have and will continue to accomplish.  

I certainly have no issue using any language necessary at a team or division meeting.  After all, this is precisely why we create a “safe circle of men!”  But I do not believe it serves our organization to use words that may be viewed as potential profanity when it comes to documents that are accessible on the web and Internet.

There is place and a time for the use of colorful metaphors.  It’s just not in newsletters or other documents that can be read by our daughters, wives, mothers and young sons.

FUCK YEAH – Howard Spierer, Former MDI President

Words only have the power we impart to them.  Somewhere at some point in time, someone decided the word “shit” was offensive.  

I wasn’t invited to that conversation and don’t know the rationale or context behind the decision.  I consider myself to be a man of integrity and as such will never blindly follow an edict that doesn’t make sense to me.  So when some men in MDI took issue with the use of the phrase “funny shit” as the title of a joke page in our monthly newsletter, I took issue with what I perceived to be a knee-jerk reaction.  Granted the word “shit” can be offensive in certain contexts but that wasn’t how it was used here.  The Oxford dictionary has five definitions of “shit” as a noun, two of which are right on point: nonsense/meaningless garbage or personal belongings/stuff.  

If it felt authentic for the newsletter editors to use “Funny Shit” as the title for that page, I respect that.  I might not agree with it but I didn’t volunteer to do that job so I am not about to second-guess someone else’s decision.

The argument I’ve heard is “someone might be offended by the use of the word.” I can’t take a stand for not doing something because someone else (as yet unidentified) might be offended.  There was a time people were offended by integration, same-sex marriage and women in the work place.  Fortunately people took a stand against blindly following the moral dictates of others, and in most segments of society none of this is an issue anymore.  My hope is someday people will just look at “shit” as just another word and not get bent out shape by its use.  

I am in MDI to practice authentic communication. If my words are occasionally off-color, so be it. The important thing to me is that I, and we, say what we mean and mean what we say. 

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