Foul Language


What is the obligation of a student whose professor uses profanities and vulgarities in the classroom, who has the backing of the university hierarchy and has no intentions of moderating speech?

I can tolerate to a degree normal profanities, but it irks me to hear the Holy Name being taken in vain or used in profanities.

Is there anything I can do besides pray and offer reparation for each offense as it occurs?

Why don’t you just ask the prof in private to please stop taking the Lord’s Name in vain since it offends you and possibly other students in there who are Christians? Take a stand! Stand up for Jesus!

Correcting or even suggesting a Professor is wrong or should be corrected can be a dangerous business and can seriously impact you college career.BE CAREFUL. If this guy is a jerk- he can make your academic life miserable. My son had something similar happen to him(not religious stuff) but correcting a professor on a fact.Whoa they do not like to lose face-My son is an A student but every paper he handed in was nit picked apart .As far as the faculty ? they’ll back their guy about 100% because they don’t want to look bad.Pray first-and intercede for him that his heart of stone will become flesh. But if you confront him- start watching your back then.:frowning:

For me, I can no longer tolerant foul languages or profane languages. I easily become offended when our Lord’s Name’s is taken in vain or even our Mother’s Name. I have heard our Blessed Mother’s name being degraded.

Find out the universities published policy on language, harrassment and hate speech and enforce it by filing formal charges against the professor using the established university channels.

juliamajor has encapsulated very well what the best option is. Anything else you might just as well fold your tent and join the great unwashed who have voluntarily cut short their further education. It is a sad commentary on the state of our University/College system, but it is by and large quite true. Academic freedom and tenure you see trumps all.

Excellent post! This is exactly what I wanted to say too! I have dealt with this type of reaction, not in an educational institution, but in a professional one, and believe me, it can be difficult. I don’t know your professor, so I hate to make any judgements of character, but I have dealt with people similar, and if you say anything that appears to them like an attack, they can react in a very negative way. And being a professor, he has the power to make your life difficult.

Any way to change classes/professors? If not, I think the prayer idea is best. Say “Credo” (I Believe) every time he takes the Lord’s name in vain, and offer a rosary for him often.

One of the signs of my conversion was my sudden and complete inability vocalize profanities or even think of them with experiencing great pain. (Mine was a sudden and miraculous conversion from atheism to the Catholic Church.) So profanity is something I just cannot tolerate. Even the three letter abbreviation that I see here on this forum now and then which start with “OM…” bothers me.

JMJ_Coder, I can understand your pain.

Offer the pain up to God, speak to the administration and explain that your religious rights are being violated. Ask pointedly why your religion is permitted to be publicly mocked but Islam is not.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with JuliaMajor. The question becomes if you do the right thing, you may end up being an academic martyr. Only you can make that decision.

Sirach 23:13 states the following:

"Do not accustom your mouth to lewd vulgarity; for it involves sinful speech.

Sirach 23:15 further states,

“A man accustomed to using insulting words will never become disciplined all his days.”

Puzzleannie offers good counsel as always. Additional complicating factors include the existence of a faculty union, whether the college is public or private (private college often have more flexibility in personnel matters), the college grievance policy (there should be one for students), and the college’s use of AAUP’s standards of professional ethics and behavior which states, among other things, that what a professor teaches must be relevent to the course subject matter (i.e., a math prof can’t devote a math class to a rant against George W. Bush). However, while in some contexts it can be dangereous to take on a department, individual profs are more vulnerable, especially if your major is in a different department. All this said, students do have rights also and can prevail. I once chaired a department and sanctioned a faculty member for inappropriate language because of a student complaint. I then monitored the student’s test results and found no retribution. Sometimes department chairs and deans wimp out, others stand tall. Ask around, check the grievence procedures and take principled but prudential action. Two sources which may help you are the National Association of Scholars which was formed because of the corruption of higher education and FIRE, a group devoted to supporting student rights. Check them out on line. Good Luck.

Yah 100%! One night i went to bed, the next day i woke up and i had to toss all my music (was garbage), didnt watch tv anymore, hated going shopping and seeing all this sexy stuff targeting young people, and especially couldn’t stand hearing people take the name of the Lord in vain…

What i do every time i hear someone let loose is say a little “Christ have mercy” under my breath…

I wish they would choose any of the other four letter words or anything, it would be much easier for me to listen to…


I work at a college, and yes, some professors have huge egos, and yes liberalism abounds. You can bet though that I would tell any professor who took the Lord’s name in vain in my presence that such talk offended me. I wouldn’t worry about losing my job over it either, and I would not worry about it being a student either. Just be respectful. I think that there would only be a small chance that it would impact your grade in that particular class. Worst case scenario, just don’t take any more classes from that professor. One professor does not have the power to ruin your college career. They do not look out for each other, trust me. Basically, chances are the the administration would look the other way if an official complaint was launched. It’s pretty difficult to replace a tenured faculty member. So, I don’t really recommend that as an effective route.

Really, I would just make a low-key respectful comment letting him know that such language is offensive to you. I think you’ll be fine doing that.

If nothing can be done about it, ask yourself some simple questions. Is this a required course? Is he the only one who teaches it? . How do other students feel or react to this? If all else fails, is this the only University.
Deacon Ed B.

Excellent replies.

I can only add that it may be prudent to record the prof if you are going to report him to the department head or whomever. That, and you may wish to wait until after the term is over to report or confront him.

One more thing; chances are he isn’t going to change unless the higher-ups force him to do so, and that takes quite a lot of pressure; “academic freedom” and all that rubbish.

I would think that you’d have good grounds to file a complaint of religious harrasement; that you are understandably concerned that the prof would/would have lowered your grade if you had complained.

The other way is to confront him directly, realizing that if you do so during class it’s more likely to result in problems than if you were to do so after the class was over and your grades were already turned in.

Myself, I’d confront him the first time he did it, demand that he cease and file a complaint, but that’s me at this time in my life with 17 years of college classes under my belt. If I were in my 20’s and was gunning for good grades, I’d have been much more careful in how I went about it.

But, sometimes the direct method works best; “Prof. X, I’m disappointed that you, as an highly educated man, couldn’t find other words to express your point of view. For a Christian like me, your use of (profanity, blasphemy, vulgarity is/was offensive. I’d ask you to consider that your choice of words is both inappropriate for a man of your eduation, as well as demonstrative of a lack of self-control and professionalism and a surprising degree of immaturity. I had expected much more from you.”

Pe polite, but firm, and a snail-mail letter is much better than an email or in person, especially when it’s sent as a follow-up to personal contact and when copies are sent to the department head, President of the University, and members of the Board of Regents.

You might also pose the question as to why the “N” word and cursing Allah isn’t tolerated in an academic environment, but blasphemy and vulgarity is?

Another good question is what you should expect for your hard-earned (or borrowed) money? Is that what you should come to expect from this (college/university), a foul-mouthed, irreverant juvenile when you paid for a professional?

If you really want to “go for it”, arrange for a visit with each of the Regents of the college or university and take along your tape recorder. That may take a bit of time, to get to see them all, but let them know that this behavior was totally unexpected from this distinguished learning institution and that you’re really disappointed and expected that they’d have more professional educators on the staff.

It all depends on how much this bothers you. :wink:

Good luck, and don’t forget to pray for the potty-mouthed prof.


Thanks for the replies. I have done much praying and discerning over this issue.

Just to clarify a few points:

The course is not taught by a professor, but by a part-time instructor - one who, from what I can gather, doesn’t even hold a college degree!

This course is not absolutely required for me to take, but I thought it would be fun and helpful.

The course is Music Recording Workshop.

Yesterday was the first day of classes. I go in there and the second sentence out of the instructors mouth is: “blah blah blah blank blah blah blah” :eek:

The third sentence, which goes into a pre-emptive speech is: "I’ll apologize once for my speech. After this, I don’t give a blank what you think. That’s how I talk and I ain’t gonna change. If you have a problem with that, too blank bad! And you’d better not blank judge me! You’re in a class about the music business and this is how we blank talk. Since you’re going into this business, you’d better get blank used to it. " :eek: (there’s more, but that’s the gist of it).

He also gave carte blanche to us students to use like language, provide it wasn’t used to him (i.e., you’re a blank).

He claims that this is how the profession talks - I’m thinking, there’s no business in the world were such language would be permitted. Go to any business for an interview and pepper your language and just see how many job offers you get - NONE.

Some possibilities, well there are only two I can see. Ask him to curtail his language or switch courses.

Of these two, the latter is the most likely one I’ll choose. Let me explain why.

Even if I confront him (and I would do so with politeness), it is most likely, given his preemptive speech, that he will change his language. It will likely make him disgruntled toward me and could cause me to fail. Why, well his grading system is the stupidest for a college I have ever met. There are no test, no books, nothing. If you show up, you get an A - just like a job (as he puts it). This is hands on training in the lab. That may work well for a tech school (which is were he was educated), but it doesn’t fly in college, not even in American colleges. So if he is upset with me, he could just fail me and what do I have to counter that - I can’t say look at my test scores or lab scores or essay grades. I and the college have no proof but his word to go on.

We are quickly coming upon the season of Lent. Do I seriously want to ruin my ability to prepare spiritually because I am constantly bombarded by filth? The way the class is scheduled, I could attend Mass right after that class. Well, I can’t if I feel I need a shower to clean off all that filth. It ruins my ability to prepare and participate fully at Mass. It also would cause an increase in me of anger and anxiety (like I don’t have enough of that already :().

Also, I am paying good money to take this course. Why would I waste my limited financial resources to be subjected to such trash?

The subject matter is nothing I couldn’t learn myself and I am not looking to go into a full recording studio to work - at best I would record my Choir at Church - a few well placed mics and a simple mixer board should do. That knowledge is nothing I can’t pick up with a few books and a little trial and error.

The other two classes I would take (I need to take two to fulfill the time of this one - to maintain full-time status) are better suited to my minor (Music Theory) and I think are the safest bet. They would be taught by real professors who should have a better command of the English language.

I will tell my advisor in that department that the reason I am switching courses and the reason that that course has lost a student and money (there are only four other students in the course and one didn’t show up) is because of the instructors foul language. They might not care if a student just is upset with the language, but they will care if they feel that the same will result in them losing money.

From what you have said, I feel you have made a wise decision. You will remain in my prayers, as well as the instructor. He needs them.
Deacon Ed B

ALLELUIA praise be. you got it going good. you got it right :thumbsup:


Make sure you emphasize this point to the department head!

They would be taught by real professors who should have a better command of the English language.

Another point to bring up!

I will tell my advisor in that department that the reason I am switching courses and the reason that that course has lost a student and money (there are only four other students in the course and one didn’t show up) is because of the instructors foul language. They might not care if a student just is upset with the language, but they will care if they feel that the same will result in them losing money

Your advisor probably won’t care; her or his job is to assist you to get the education you want, not to administer the faculty. Send letters to the department head, president, and (individually) each regent. If you really want to make an impact, send a copy to the instructor, but send it two days after sending it to the others, so he they’ll know about the situation before he does.

I’m telling you, at the very least, it will get their attention if you focus on the reputation of your academic institution, the insulting comments about the music profession (it’s supposed to be a class that supports he profession), and the fact that it’s not only the foul language, but an in-your-face harrasement of you and others as religious people. (“And you’d better not blank judge me!”)…and not least that you refuse to pay good money for a class to be insulted and belittled.

Send letters, don’t use email. My dad taught me a long time ago (before there **was **email :smiley: ) that when you get a letter, you have to do something with it; hold it, read it, re-read it, pass it along, or file it in the circular file, you have to do something with it.

A phone call can be forgotton, and there’s no record of it. An email can be deleted with a single click (although there is an electronic record), but you must physically do something with a letter. Guaranteed, your letter will not be circular filed if you indicate that others were cc’d, paticularly if the others are higher-ups.

This emotional child of an instructor may not change, but prayers and using my time-tested snailmail method (yes, it’s not what you say but how you say it and to whom you say it), IMHO is the way to go if you realistically want to try to effect a change.



Well, I switched courses and what a difference!

Thanks for all the help and support.


In my case, my advisor is the department head. :wink:

Thanks for the advice. I don’t know how far I will take the letters - at least my advisor/department head will be aware of the fact. I don’t know if I will write to other mucky-mucks.

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