Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Ambiguity of I ♥ Boobies

How much self-expression should be allowed in school settings has been at issue since the 1970's, with the U.S. Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District decision allowing some students to wear armbands to protest the Vietnam war.

On the other hand, schools have prohibited the wearing of t-shirts bearing certain messages, like those advocating drugs or alcohol.

In Bethel School District v. Fraser, the Court ruled that a high school student could be be disciplined because of his speech to a school assembly during which he nominated a fellow student for a student elective office with a speech that contained contained (lame) sexual innuendos, but not obscenity. The Supreme Court asserted that "the process of educating our youth for citizenship in public schools is not confined to books, the curriculum, and the civics class; schools must teach by example the shared values of a civilized social order". 

Several years ago, the Supremes found in Frederick v. Morse that Alaskan high school students could not display a banner inscribed "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" because it advocated the use of drugs.

According to Slate, a matter that might come before the Supreme Court is whether to allow the rubber bracelets bearing the message "I ♥ boobies."  Now, the original intent of the bracelets was to increase breast cancer awareness, and to help fund breast cancer research.


Sounds like a worthy cause, no?  An article in the Huffington Post reports that it is controversial in many parts of the country, and that the ACLU has stepped forward in Wyoming to insure this right of free speech.

You know, the right to free speech, guaranteed in the First Amendment, doesn't specify whether it's speech that authorities approve of, or that it's serious speech.  Those are moot questions, anyway.

Anyway, returning to the word "boobies."  It's beauty, or lack thereof, is in the eye of the beholder.   Or, maybe I'd better say, the listener.

I personally am not bothered by the word.  Some may be.  But some people can find the word "dog" to be offensive.

Besides, there's a certain ambiguity to the word.  There is a species of bird known as the blue-footed boobie.  And maybe at least some of our bracelet-wearers are more bird- than breast-conscious.  Still, breast cancer awareness seems to be a worthwhile cause to support.

Just like there seems to be a small tribe of people who are fond of little owls and addicted to hot wings.

We have to remember that the English language is not static: meanings change with time.  Some words, that were strongly dysphemisms a few years ago seem less so.  Can this be the opposite of the euphemism treadmill in action?  If so, call it the dysphemism treadmill.  Consider the word dick.  When a person is nowadays told, "Don't act like a dick," this is nothing more than his being instructed to not act like a jerk.

Oh foul language, where is thy sting?


The Bastard King of England said...

That's a full-breasted blue-footed boobie. A rare bird.

TexWisGirl said...

my opinion, 'i heart boobs' would have seemed less titillating. 'boobies' makes me think of pre-teens giggling. seems to trivialize the original message.

Mike said...

'The shared values of a civilized social order' seem to be going in different directions for different groups.

Grand Crapaud said...

Now that booby would turn me into a bird watcher!

Big Sky Heidi said...

I prefer the term 'boobs' or 'boobies' to some of the other ones. And the bracelets do not bother me in the bits.

Actually, it's kind of cute when kids wear 'em.

Mike is right: our shared values of a civilized social order are going in different directions.

Anonymous said...

Kids basically wear the bracelets to get a rise out of adult authority figures. That's the fun of it.

Bilbo said...

I heart boobies myself, and prefer to see them healthy and free of cancer. Mike and Heidi are right about the divergence of "shared" values, and Anonymous is also correct: most young kids see the value of the bracelets not in raising awareness of a problem, but in annoying their elders. Some things never change.

Anemone said...

I'm rather fond of mine, and don't mind the moral and physical support. A comfortable bra is a gift from God, it seems.

Kristen Drittsekkdatter said...

Bracelets like that foster an unhealthy obsession with breasts. And those restaurants with well-endowed, skimpily dressed waitresses contribute to the problem.

Sinner Bob said...

Whether you call them boobies or tits or bazooms or breasts, I heart them!