2001-09-08 / Columnists

From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms

Hey people! I truly appreciate the fact that people have taken the time to write me congratulation letters as result of my promotion. It means a lot to me to know that I have an impact on the community and the system as a whole.

Some of you have expressed displeasure over my use of certain words in my column, and although I thoroughly understand your positions, I cannot, and will not, structure the style of my writing. That’s like trying to tell someone how to pray or serve his or her God. Everybody has a particular way of doing it, to the point where it makes him or her happy and complete. Who is to judge whether the style or method is inappropriate? Otherwise, there is no democracy or truth in terms of freedom of expression.

I also happen to believe that the words I may choose to use are extremely tame compared to what these kids hear regularly nowadays. My managing editor, Howard Schwach, worked in the public school system for over 30 years, and he stated the language used in the schools today is far worse than anything I have ever used in a column.

These kids know more, and do more, than we think. They should not be treated as though "bad words" or certain words don’t exist. They are going to hear or maybe even say them at some point in their lives. We cannot ignore that fact, and to say that I am contributing to their possible involvement in the use of bad language is not fair.

Many have informed me that I am viewed as a role model, and I do take that very seriously. However, I would never want to give the impression that I am a saint because I am not. I am a human being who has flaws just like anyone else. I am not perfect, and sometimes my style of writing won’t be either. This fact should not be hidden, even from kids. To act, or write, in any other fashion makes me something other than what I appear to be. I can’t do that.

I do far less damage to kids with certain words I use in my column, compared to the lies and broken promises made to them in the last 10-15 years by their chosen representatives. Don’t take my word for it, just hit the streets and ask them.

When all is said and done, we should realize that kids are smart, and they know the difference between good and bad. Just as there are kids that listen to explicit hip-hop lyrics, but are dead set against using such language. The same goes for my column. I’m sure that they can take what is useful from the column, and discard what they don’t need. I feel certain adults should do the same.

The G-man is not the first to be questioned with regard to the use of certain words in a public forum. In the 60’s, the late, great comedian Lenny Bruce pushed the boundaries of censorship, and what was considered to be "appropriate" by society’s standards, by using certain words in his standup routine.

Bruce vehemently challenged the political and societal structure in his act, and he was able to start a universal dialogue regarding what should and should not be said in public. It was only at the point of his untimely death that courts ruled that he did indeed have the right to use certain words in a public forum. To this day, a number of writers, actors, comedians and politicians are pushing the boundaries in order to stimulate debate over freedom of speech, expression and censorship.

It is never my intention to offend anyone. I have only received three or four letters in my five years of writing this column, and I am man enough to apologize to those three or four people that feel offended. I’m sure many more are out there, and if you have a problem with my choice of words, I would suggest one of two things.

First, and foremost, skip the column if certain words offend you. I would understand totally. It’s like taking an enema; it’s not for everyone.

Secondly, you can take a page out of the book of the late martial arts legend Bruce Lee. In a scene where he is explaining the philosophy of martial arts to a young student he states, "It is like a finger pointing away to the moon". Lee then taps the student on the head because he gets caught staring at his instructor’s finger. Lee then says, "Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all the heavenly glory." I believe if you only focus on the fact that I’m using certain words, you will miss the "glory" of the true message in the column.

See you next week!

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