Monday, February 24, 2014

Outlawing Cursing

In September 2012, Brussels passed a law to punish those who use inflammatory language in public. By this act, cursing, in certain instances became out-lawed. This law is one of many in the wake of the 2008 E.U. Decision on Xenophia and Hate Speech, and attempts to create social cohesion among Europe and the growing immigrant population. The fine for such language is up to 250 Euros.

In the recent documentary: Femme de la Rue, documentarian : by Sophie Peeter places a hidden camera on herself as she leaves her Brussels apartment conservatively dressed. The result on every occasion was sexist slurs from the mouths of Northern African immigrant men. “Salope”, meaning slut and other offensive language (like clicking) were yelled at Peeters as she made her way down the streets of Scharbeek, a predominately Arabic decent suburb of Brussels. 

Much like construction workers in the 1970’s America, cat-calling women on the street, this interjection of outdated gender stereotypes is called la drague, or the art of seduction. Unfortunately it’s also a part of middle-eastern culture that demeans women, and purposely attempts to shame women for their bodies or dress. It’s a part of their culture, but it’s in direct conflict with European culture and modern political correctness.

Sophie, who at the time crowd funded her documentary as a master’s film student in Brussels created a journalism frenzy over the piece. Articles in almost every major world newspaper carried the topic. As a result, Brussels has attempted to improve the situation by laws that protect women from street harassment. 

Of course I suspect, Americans would be upset at their loss of liberty when abroad due to our adoration of free speech; however we've implemented laws in some cities of America that ignore the reasons for such laws, and ban vulgarities simply because some citizen(s) take offense to words like fuck being used in public. In Middleborough, Massachusetts, using the f-bomb will earn you a $20 ticket (yes, start your Demolition Man flash backs now). Bill 56 in South Carolina would make cursing a punishable offense, and Arizona has begin the process of outlawing bad-language in the classroom. The truth is, you shouldn't be able to tell a women she's a slut on the street, nor make xenophobic remarks to foreigners, but what America is outlawing, is truly the use of free-speech.

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