Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Deplorable Word, Revisited

In 2008, I posted this article on my now defunct writing blog Interregnum. Since it hits so timely on something I want to say, I'm reposting it here and now.


A class assignment this week requires me to read a book titled "The N Word: Who can say it, who shouldn't, and why?". Normally, this is not something that would find its way into my reading list, which is, I guess, why there are college professors - to expand my mind.

This mind-expanding stuff is painful business. This book is a painful read. Not because it's badly written, or incorrect. It's the very truthfulness of it that is so excruciating.

For those lucky enough to not know what the "N"-word means, it is an insult based on skin color, a slang term that originated in the south regarding the slaves. This book is an in-depth study of the origin, use and real meaning behind the word. I was not terribly surprised to learn that its usage was much wider than I ever expected, but I was shocked to learn that it is still, in the twenty-first century, used on the floor of congress.

There was a discussion in my class regarding a movement to have the word removed from the dictionary. When I voiced that I saw no need for it to be there in the first place, suddenly, I'm the old fogey prude who promotes censorship akin to Big Brother (whom most of my classmates had never heard of). When on of the young men at the next table piped up; "Well, why is the F word in the dictionary?" to prove his point, I could honestly answer that I remember when it wasn't because it was considered too vulgar for decent speech.

All this makes me wonder...

In C. S. Lewis' "The Magician's Nephew, there was a world destroyed because one person spoke a word so heinous and awful that the fabric of the universe could not stand its utter depravity. He called it 'The Deplorable Word'. When the hero stepped into that world many years later, he found a scene of complete devastation and ruin.

I'm afraid for us. How close are we?

If we allow filthy words, words with heinous meanings, to be freely used, tolerated, and considered mainstream - how long before we find our own Deplorable Word?

I may not be Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandella, or Gordon B Hinckley - but my heart is good, and my will is strong, and the Lord has given me a way with words, words that might just make a difference, a good one. As it says in the scriptures, those with a desire to serve are called to the work. I think that we LDS and Christian writers all have more than enough desire, so consider yourself called.

We must write! Fight the Deplorable Words of this world. Flood the world with words of goodness, words of kindness, words of worth - valiant in meaning, precious to the ear.


The first year I attended the LDStorymakers Writers Conference, Jeannette Rallison gave a stirring speech about how we, as LDS writers specifically, in order to combat all the trash that is readily available, we have a duty to flood the world with wholesome literature. That is the theme I have clung to since. To be true to what I believe in every word that comes from me.

Since this originally aired in 2008, I have seen others, who professed to believe as I did, fall.

Richard Dutcher, a talented actor and director, left his religion in favor of making and promoting a film that even his own crew that had been with him through several great films called raunchy. In his own words in a City Weekly interview, he did not believe the LDS community properly recognized his talent.

Kirby Heyborne, the talented star of such great films as The Best Two Years and the comedy The RM, signed a contract with a national alcoholic beverage chain to advertise their product.

Stephanie Meyer, though famous now in the national market, first touted her graduation from BYU on the back of her books, then in the fourth of her famous series, wrote material that some Christian mothers refuse to let their daughters read because of the inappropriate content. One of those mothers that I know personally, was a hard-core fan right up to that point.

Zarahemla Books, whose tag line has always been 'Edgy but not Apostate' published a book including so many apostate ideas I can't (or won't) list them here. Their business has never recovered.

Earlier this year, I attended another conference, looking forward to my resolve being strengthened while I learned and practiced my chosen craft. Not once did I hear any reference toward our "duty to flood the earth".

Have we forgotten why we're here, doing what we're doing? It is so easy to step aside from what we believe - after all, it's just fiction, right?

How long before our children step into a world of complete devastation and ruin, and all because of words. Words in society, words on media, tv? Words in books? Are we still fighting the Deplorable Word - or do we just give up?

I intend to fight! With every breath, every scribbled note, every keystroke!

 It may mean my books are never traditionally published, but I'll take that chance. If necessary, I will do it alone  - but I would prefer to think there are others out there with me, for I still believe it is our duty to flood the world with words of goodness, words of kindness, words of worth!

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