- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2004

The potty mouths at the University of Maryland are endeavoring to preserve their sacred First Amendment rights.

When they witness the opposition committing a crime against humanity at Comcast Center, they sometimes feel compelled to assault the perpetrators in language commonly associated with Eminem, one of the deep-thinking artists in American pop culture.

They believe this response motivates their basketball-playing chargers in short pants and contributes to an electric atmosphere. They believe in the sustenance of the four-letter word.

They also have other funny ideas at College Park, judging by the occasional mayhem and looting that follows a big game. Nothing apparently punctuates a hard-earned victory like a brick through a store window.

School and state officials have been taking notes the past few years, wondering what can be implemented to bring an air of civility to the athletic proceedings. Gary Williams, head coach of the men’s basketball team, implored the students to rinse out their mouths with soap before the game this past Sunday.

“It’s got to stop,” he said.

The students, at least those who insist they have a working knowledge of the English language, found the inner strength to refrain from collective purple chants after the request, although several profanities could be heard from individuals.

The students usually save the best material for Duke anyway. When Duke was in town two weeks ago, the combination of the students’ poor vocabulary and impressive lung power eluded the ESPN censors.

As distasteful as it was, the verbal refuse was a step up from one of the parents of a Duke player being struck with a water bottle, as was the case three years ago.

Alas, we never can forget there is a higher principle here.

The students would not let us if we tried.

We do not want to inhibit the free-speech rights of another.

We all have the right to say whatever we want whenever we like, but we usually agree there is a time and place for certain words.

It probably would be inappropriate to utter profanity after the conclusion of a prayer at church. It just would not be respectful in that environment.

It also probably would not be a good idea to direct profanity at your boss, no matter the circumstances, if eating is one of your activities.

People usually accept these free-speech limitations because of common sense. You call your boss a name, and the response is liable to be: “You’re fired.”

See how that works? It’s called having a clue, which Maryland students sometimes lack.

As one student says, “You can’t put a rule out, because students are going to do what they want.”

It is awfully difficult to argue with logic as sturdy as that.

But let’s try.

OK, class, let’s try to have a little self-discipline today, as quaint as that notion is.

Let’s try to have some character as well, even a touch of self-respect.

There are kiddies and grandparents running around in the house. They do not need to be inundated with the language of street urchins.

Act like you are learning something in college. Be inventive with your spiel. Inventive is cute. Inventive is fun.

You would not play the obnoxious fool in a zillion other environments.

You would not even chant “Bor-ing” in the middle of a philosophy lecture, which, by the way, would be incredibly funny.

We know. Exercising self-control is so hard in the climate today.

If something feels right, you are obligated to go through with it, and darn the consequences to you and those around you. It is too often about being in the moment and staying there.

Yes, there is a higher principle here than going to the gutter to find a momentary release and burst of pleasure.

There is a thing called class, in meeting a situation with dignity instead of hiding behind the safety of the crowd and the court-assisted doctrine of extreme free speech.

To plead otherwise is debasing, shallow, as silly as contending that six weeks equal six years.

So stand up, be tall and shout to the skies in uplifting style. There you go. How hard was that?

Here’s to the Big M.

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