13 November 2009

You think swearing is normal?

There is an Australian, a former soldier, who has been detained in Dubai awaiting trial on charges of insulting and using inappropriate language to a police officer at the Dubai International Airport (the Age, Nov 13, 2009). Mr. Sun McKay said that he was grabbed on the wrist and yanked by a stranger at Dubai International Airport, and instinctively said: "What the f---?". The stranger turned out to be a plain clothes airport policeman.

Ok, perhaps it was the shock and surprise at the unexpected encounter with the police officer that caused Mr. McKay to say what he said. But it is troubling to note the reporting which says that McKay "instinctively" swore.

Has the usage of swear words become so common, to the point it is instinctive? Is it to be recognised as acceptable behaviour? Perhaps to a large number of Australians, Americans etc. etc. (I may be generalising here) it is accepted behaviour, but for a large part of Asia and definitely the Middle East, as Mr. McKay has painfully learned, it is not regarded as acceptable behaviour. It is rude, crude, barbaric, demeaning and just plain awful behaviour.

It made, and still makes, me cringe during the days when I was in university in Australia and exposed to daily colourful language by my peers. We would be cuffed if we spoke like that back home.

Mr. McKay says he is "astounded by the situation". Well, I am equally astounded at how liberal swearing has become. He further believes he has been treated unfairly, and wants the Australian Government to formally complain to the United Arab Emirates about his treatment. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs however, has rightly said it is limited in what it can do to help Mr McKay, as travellers were bound by the laws of the countries they visited.

And Mr. McKay is chanting the usual mantra, "They don't have the best record of human rights here". ....predictable.


  1. I'm like you when hearing people 'colouring' their everyday language with swear words. I cringe... not that I'm a prude but I simply think it's unnecessary. There are many proper words in the English language that one can use to express anger, excitement and feelings, not necessarily beginning with 'F...'. I find this is quite common among the younger generation, not that I'm old, but mainly the Gen Ys (those born in late 1970s to late 1980s).

  2. He should be detained without trial for a year and then given lashes in public. If I was the cop who had been abused, I would have kept him in a dark cell, bashed him up in the lockup for a week and kept him awake. Or better still, he should be accused of being a spy and shot by a firing squad without further delay. The shooting should be telecast on international TV networks.