Kim Henderson: A different kind of safe space

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, June 24th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Commentator Kim Henderson  now with a call for a different kind of “safe space.”

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: So, we’re sitting there in the fancy chairs at the oral surgeon’s office, poring over a panoramic view of Daughter No. 2’s wisdom teeth.

That’s when he throws it out there, plain as can be. No hint of hesitation. No break in syntax.

He just slides it in, right between all the explanations of perfect tooth positioning and talk of an under 8-minute, all-gone, extraction.

AUDIO: [Bleep]

I believe he was referring to an obstinate molar.

In any case, my first thought was, “Maybe I misheard him.” My second thought was, “Maybe she didn’t hear him.” Not so, which is why a lively mother-daughter discussion ensued in the car.

The crazy thing is, the whole scene was one of those deja vu moments. About 10 years ago I was sitting in a similar office with Son No. 1 when a different oral surgeon let the same word fly.

I mean, what are the chances of that? Do we look like people who want to pay for profanity as part of a medical consultation?

Some of you are shaking your heads by now, thinking my idea of a foul-language-free society are Pollyannaish. Maybe. But can’t we at least have some safe zones?

Take, for instance, that guy on the old Apollo 13 documentary we thought would be so educational. Why didn’t someone edit his cussing away and let him ride out the decades with a little dignity?

How about when you’re getting your hair done? Once, my hairdresser was working her magic when a loud-mouthed customer’s salty tongue curled the sensibilities of everyone within hearing distance, including my 14-year-old.

Finally, I had enough. With dye dripping and vinyl cape flapping, I walked over and asked for a ceasefire. Please.

Talk about clearing the air. The silence and staring afterwards were a bit awkward, but I have to say that anytime I’ve been in that salon since, it’s been easy on the ears.

More recently I’ve noticed celebrated writers letting their expletives loose in print. Somehow their off-color interjections make their writing more “credible,” right?

Theologian Wayne Grudem offers an interesting take on corrupting language. He compares it to not using deodorant, saying that while some might argue that not wearing deodorant isn’t morally wrong, it does give needless offense and causes others to think of the person as impure or unclean. Plus, he says, it encourages others to act in the same way.

Grudem’s odor analogy makes sense. Maybe that’s why good mommas used to keep a bar of soap around for washing out offending mouths. These days, though, I don’t think such corrective action is in vogue.

And as the safe zones increasingly disappear, I have a candid word of my own to offer those who think it’s hip to let it rip.


For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “Kim Henderson: A different kind of safe space

  1. Evelyn Stilwell says:

    Thanks! We’ll put. Much needed!

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