Monday, October 6, 2008


Notes From South of the Border

My Thoughts, My Opinions, My Editorializing on My Life in Central Mexico

Gringo Profanity in Mexico

Perhaps it was because I grew up in a household of cursers that I so despise the use of profanity. Or, maybe it is because it is so indicative of someone's inability to articulate themselves intelligently. I've also thought that it could be because it is so closely related to the Rage Issue in America that Americans are some of the most profane uttering people.

I can recall never being able to go out in America without having the air turned blue by the limited vocabulary of profane people. And, I am not talking about a minority here, either. Does not your own experience show that Americans just cannot seem to express themselves, all most always in anger, using the vilest profanities? It is everywhere, is it not?

I totally get using profanity in high stress situations in which to utter a few vulgarities can relieve stress a bit. I must admit, I have fallen into this a time or two. What I am talking about is lacing one's conversation with words best left in the locker room or a construction site. If you will notice, Americans no longer seem to be able to talk without using words that frankly are tiresomely vulgar.

We live in a small colonial Mexican town called, Guanajuato. It is the capital of the state of Guanajuato. Not too far from us is an other colonial town called San Miguel de Allende infected with almost 12,000 American expatriates. To put it in the words of an expat friend who fled that town to live where we do, "They come to San Miguel with all their little pathologies," and indeed they do.

We went over there to eat in a Chinese restaurant. After giving our order a group of Americans came in. They gave their order in English (this is because the vast majority cannot string together two words of Spanish to save their lives), and then proceeded to have a little chat that went something like this:

First Vile American:"I told that son-of-a-bitch that I didn't give a shit what he thought."

Second Vile American:"Well, what the fuck did you tell him then?"

First Vile American: "I told him that I didn't give a shit what he did next."

Second Vile American: "Did he shit all over himself when you said that?"

First Vile American: "Hell, I don't know and who gives a shit what he did next."

Second Vile American: "Shit, is that all you said to the fucker?"

First Vile American: "No, I told him shit on you, you shit-head."

This gem of a conversation was uttered in the loudest possible of voices so that they could have been heard, I am assuming, outside the restaurant. I asked the waiter, in Spanish, if this was a rare occurrence. He had quite a good time laughing his head off. I am sure the vulgar Americans didn't care one whit that they were loud and vulgar because, to put it in the only thing profane Americans seem to understand these days,

"They didn't give a shit what a bunch of Mexicans thought of their shitty behavior."

Mexicans can curse. Do not get me wrong, here. But, it is so utterly comical and so appropriate that you hardly notice it. And, just let me say this: I walked the last 7 months past road construction full of Mexicans and not once did I witness vile language much less profane behavior. When they do use profanity it is nothing like Americans and certainly does not create the same sort of hostility that you feel when Americans cut loose. Mexicans curse with purpose (though you rarely hear it) unlike Americans who will scream obscenities for lack of a better vocabulary and temper control.

That is the main issue. You just don't see, ever, Mexicans pitching fits of rage in public and cursing like drunken sailors. The Mexican public realm seems off limits to that sort of vulgarity for which I am thankful. There is not a whole lot of public expression of such uncontrolled hostility here as in the States. In fact, I have yet to witness it. Just think of a moment of the appeal of being to go out in public and not having to witness public hostility.

In a recent YouGov poll, Britons surveyed revealed that,

"…A majority of the Britons described Americans as uncaring, divided by class, awash in violent crime, vulgar, preoccupied with money, ignorant of the outside world, racially divided, uncultured and in the most overwhelming result (90 percent of respondents) dominated by big business."

But I fear, just as another part of the survey reveal, that Americans do not give a rat's rear-end of how their vulgarity affects the rest of the world:

"A massive 83 percent of those questioned said that the United States doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks."

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