My mobile phone rang at 6.40 this morning...early in anyone’s language, particularly in the dark of the almost shortest day in winter. It was Ryan, the producer from the Breakfast Show on Radio 6PR in Perth, wanting to know if I had heard the news that the Queensland government is going to legislate for the police to be able to present a $100 on-the-spot fine to anyone swearing in public, and particularly at members of the police force. And even if I hadn’t read the news, would I please comment on air at 7.10?
I really enjoy the opportunity to chat on radio so I immediately dashed to the computer to read the
“breaking news” story.
Certainly there is a lack of respect for authoritarian figures in today’s Australia – and for that matter, in yesterday’s Australia. From “copper bashing” to “pollie bashing”, there is a general and widespread lack of manners. And it seems to involve all generations.
But do we need to be fined for swearing, generally, in public? Even Princess Manners has been known to let a colourful expletive escape at times such as dropping a whole fish on the kitchen floor, and certainly when her finger was slammed in her car door.
And which expletives are we allowed to use? When I was a child the word bloody was a “swear word” and resulted in very firm reprimand from my father, The Admiral. These days the vernacular bugger is used in television advertisements. And sh*t is so common we can even hear it being used by polite little old ladies when they open their car doors against the side of another car in a crowded carpark.
One unfortunate Perth reporter was caught out last week dropping the “F Word” when her live cross appeared to be...well, lost. Yes, it was reported, but if it had occurred, following legislation in Queenland and a policeman was nearby, she could conceivably have been fined.
I do hope that our politicians do not let a Swear Word slip when they still have a live microphone attached. Apparently the Prime Minister is not adverse to saying Sh*t and the "F Word" on occasion. Lucky for him he is surrounded by the Australian Federal Police and not the Queensland Police!
So I chatted with the radio presenters for a few minutes and gave my advice for those who wish to avoid a police fine. If you feel a need to vent with a swear word, try merde and hope the nearby policeman doesn’t speak French.