Teens and offensive speech: “…part of the common vernacular.”
This morning, Kayla Manson, the 13-year old charged as a “principal” in the vicious beating of Josie Lou Ratley appeared on the Today Show sharing her side of the incident for the first time.
In the interview, Kayla was asked about the text messages between Josie and Wayne, whether she’d seen any of them. She replied she’d seen two. In one, Kayla mentions Josie Lou called Wayne a “rapist.” In one back from Wayne, Kayla shared live on the show that Wayne repeatedly called her a “c**t.” After her graphic slip, she was counseled by host Meredith Viera that she has to be more careful of the words that she used — her expletive is one of the words banned on air.
While Kayla may not have known that at the time and so was just repeating what she had seen on the text, it’s the ease with which these words are used — both in writing and in speech — that is so sad. One of Kayla’s attorneys who appeared with her on the program, Jonathon Marne, immediately sprang to her defense. He says that these kinds of offensive terms are “just part of the common vernacular” among teens, that teens throw these words around all the time and don’t mean them in the same was as adults do.
To quote him as reported in the Today Show story:
“These terms, unfortunately, are part of common vernacular in middle school. These children speak in ways that adults would not find appropriate,” Marne said. “You’ll hear one child threaten another child, ‘Oh, if you do that, I’ll kill you.’ They don’t take these things seriously.”