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“Be honest with me,” Jennifer said, leaning over to whisper. I could sense by her tone she was serious. “Are we normal people?”

I knew why she asked such a question. We were both observing the passenger in front of us speak rather colorfully to his wife while the three-year-old between them smiled as if it were nothing.

“No, we’re not,” I replied. And I meant it. We are not as society around us has become.

Jennifer and I don’t use profanity. We don’t use it in the privacy of our own home, and we would never think of employing it in public, let alone in front of children. As you might expect, we didn’t raise our children to find it suitable, either. The proof is found in their concerned expressions when they hear it spoken or see it in print.

Nevertheless, it would seem there aren’t too many places left on earth where people like us can go and be spared of open profanity. The close quarters of an airplane? I think not. A movie theater? No way. A restaurant? Here’s an F-bomb or two from the booth behind you to pair with your grilled chicken salad. Perhaps worst of all, as the tendency toward crassity has more or less become the standard, not even the borderlands of one’s own home are benign. I say this as I regularly endure the three young boys currently living across the street from my house. It’s by no means uncommon for them to shout out the vilest things, their mom only steps away in the front yard listening to rap songs about doggy-style sex. My guess is that among the family as a whole, the span of their functioning vocabulary is already limited to about twenty words, six or seven of which they can actually spell. Of those twenty words in their memory bank, I’m guessing six are on the MPAA’s list for qualifying a film as rated “R.”

It’s sad. It’s also very frustrating.

It was Aldous Huxley who said, “Thanks to words, we have been able to rise above the brutes; and thanks to words, we have often sunk to the level of demons.”


Language separates us from beasts, but it is often proof of an arching human trajectory back toward a devilry that began long before we were brutes.

I wrote an article some time ago reflecting on all of this. In it I shared that I’m one who considers his words to more or less be the clothing in which his thoughts are dressed. Simply put, thoughts are presented to others in the form of language, and the best communications occur when people take care with the words they choose to assemble. In every conversation, participants can either adorn the thoughts emerging from their character with gutter rags or with regalia. It’s completely up to them. Unfortunately, our society is proving itself to prefer the gutter.

Something I find rather interesting is that some people are relentless in their defense of profanity’s value. During exchanges on this topic, it hasn’t been uncommon for an opponent to pull studies from the internet implying people who swear are typically above average in intelligence and may actually have better communication skills. Playing that same game, I’m just as capable of producing an equal number of studies proving the exact opposite. In short, I don’t believe for a second the premise that profanity proves the swiftness and depth of a person’s intellect.

Actually, my purer point isn’t how smart a person is or isn’t, or whether or not they’d beat me in Scrabble. My point is that profanity seriously devalues dialogue as well as the people engaging in it. For as paradoxical as it may seem, I think the foul mouthed Will Darnell in the film “Christine” was on point when he surmised, “You know, Pepper, you can’t polish a turd.” Profanity is this way. It makes pretty much anything it’s trying to communicate all but unpolishable. When the thought is one of value, the unfortunate result is a swinish misrepresentation.

I’m not sure how I managed to meander into this discussion, except to say that I’m still bothered by the man in the seat in front of us on the plane and the fact that the little girl in his care will, most likely, never escape the clutches of his vernacular. She’ll probably simmer in this her whole life, and the odds are pretty good that one day, her children will, too.

I suppose the connection to whiskey in all of this is found in the unpolishable editions put out by lively distilleries of good repute. Such concoctions grossly distort the value of such a whiskey maker’s endeavors. The 2 Gingers edition from the Kilbeggan Distilling Company is an example.

When thirsty for a dram, I’ve never been one to reach first for the Irish whiskies. And yet, the folks at Kilbeggan have labored in ways that cause me to rethink this position. They’re a pretty good whiskey group, one worthy of the respect they’ve muscled to attain. And yet, their 2 Gingers edition is simply profane, owning the barest vocabulary of character.

The nose of the whiskey is bitter and bothersome, wafting artificial sweeteners atop metallic fruits. Inhale a bit more deeply and you’ll realize that the experience I just described was most likely the result of chemical engineering.

The palate is just as off-putting. There’s a little bit of malt to be had, but it’s rinsed away in a thin stream of tinny citrus—kind of like someone mashed up a vitamin c tablet and put it into the bottle.

The pale but sugary finish lasts about three whole seconds. Not four. Just three.

In all, a sip from this dreck is enough to make a guy like me reconsider his profanity-free lifestyle, especially since he spent a handful of his hard earned clergy-dollars to acquire it. Although, I think the higher-ups at Kilbeggan may just feel the same way I do. Most whiskies are glad to put their various offerings on their websites. Strangely, 2 Gingers isn’t listed by Kilbeggan, but rather has its own website.

In other words, I get the sense that Kilbeggan endures as I endure, living across the street from sewer-mouthed hooligans who could amount to a whole lot more in this life if they try, and yet, appear to prefer the realm of brutes.