Offensive Language

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This is an excerpt from In Wisdom and Order, by Boyd K. Packer.

A number of years ago I went with a brother to tow in a wrecked car. It was a single-car accident, and the car was demolished; the driver, though unhurt, had been taken to the hospital for treatment of shock and for examination.

The next morning he came asking for his car, anxious to be on his way. When he was shown the wreckage, his pent-up emotions and disappointment, sharpened perhaps by his misfortune, exploded in a long stream of profanity. So obscene and biting were his words that they exposed years of practice with profanity. His words were heard by other customers, among them women, and must have touched their ears like acid.

One of my brothers crawled from beneath the car, where he had been working with a large wrench. He too was upset, and with threatening gestures of the wrench (mechanics will know that a sixteen-inch crescent wrench is a formidable weapon), he ordered the man off the premises. “We don’t have to listen to that kind of language here,” he said. And the customer left, cursing more obscenely than before.

Much later in the day he reappeared, subdued, penitent, and avoiding everyone else, he found my brother.

“I have been in the hotel room all day,” he said, “lying on the bed tormented. I can’t tell you how utterly ashamed I am for what happened this morning. My conduct was inexcusable. I have been trying to think of some justification, and I can think of only one thing. In all my life, never, not once, have I been told that my language was not acceptable. I have always talked that way. You were the first one who ever told me that my language was out of order.” (Body K. Packer, In Wisdom and Order [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013], 58–59).

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