AA Meeting Autonomy

Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery
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AA Meeting Autonomy

Postby Tim » Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:04 pm

I ran into an interesting meeting situation recently--a small potatoes issue but something I wanted to ask for your opinions on. Due to my new work schedule, I recently began attending a morning meeting that meets in a church.

The AA meeting secretary announced that the church had asked that AAs not swear at the meeting. The meeting room is closed off by doors, so is relatively private.

I'm not sure why the church requested this, but possibly because (1) the church setting and/or (2) someone in the building might overhear something said that included swearing.

Personally, I don't swear in AA meetings, but it is exceedingly common for folks to use language that might be verboten in a church-related setting. I accept that in AA folks will use the language that personally best expresses what's on their minds.

While I think it's ok for a church to make certain requests, like no smoking on the church premises or parking in a certain lot for AA meetings, I am a little leary about imposing a language restriction on an AA meeting.

What do you think?

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Postby Dallas » Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:24 pm

Tim wrote:The AA meeting secretary announced that the church had asked that AAs not swear at the meeting.

It's normal operating procedure for any place that provides or rents space to A.A.'s (or non-A.A.'s) -- to have special requests as part of the agreement to provide the space.

If the church wanted all the guys to wear pink and the girls to wear blue -- that's the right of the landlord. If the A.A.'s object -- they should find a different meeting place. Landlords have the right of autonomy. And, if we're practicing our 12 Traditions in our relationships outside of A.A. then we respect their principles of autonomy also, just like we would for another A.A. group.

Since it is a church, and profanity might be considered a moral principle to them, their request is very reasonable.

I don't like to hear profanity used in any A.A. meeting, regardless if it was in a church or an upper room over a bar. To me, it's as offensive as a smoker blowing smoke in a non-smokers face, or a non-alcoholic offering a sober alcoholic a drink. Sometimes, it's appropriate for the tongue to be the first part of the body that enters recovery. :lol:

When I was new in A.A., I heard it stressed that my language and behavior as an A.A. member -- even anonymously -- could cause a negative perception of A.A., and that it could effect "A.A. as a whole." (Relating to our Traditions).

I wouldn't use profanity on a job interview or while conducting an interview for a loan at the bank. (Of course, I would try not to use it anywhere). :wink: I consider it as respect for myself and for others.

Perhaps the original members of the A.A. group that chose that particular location in the church -- did so -- because they considered profanity as not a necessary requirement for recovery. 8)

That's my take on it.

Dallas B.

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Postby garden variety » Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:32 am

Gawd Dallas - do you have to be so cut and dry about it! :P

But I'm right with you on this bro - what you said here is the same way I was taught, too:

Dallas wrote:When I was new in A.A., I heard it stressed that my language and behavior as an A.A. member -- even anonymously -- could cause a negative perception of A.A., and that it could effect "A.A. as a whole." (Relating to our Traditions).

Using profane language is not a requirement to getting and staying sober. There are some folks that use profanity to "fit in" or to make their drunkalog or sharing sound like an exciting "adventure". Now there's nothing in my drinking stories that I'm proud of, or think it's "cool". And I don't buy the excuse it's used to "identify" with a rougher crowd or the newcomer who doesn't know how to use the language good enough to describe things such as "anger" or "surprise" with words that don't represent "bodily functions". The only thing I need to use to try and identify with a new man or woman is the common problem of uncontrollable drinking.

In my old homegroup they will eat you alive if you use profane language and there weren't any rules imposed by the church. I understand slipping up and a cussword gets out. But if a person ends up repeating profane words, to me it looks like he's trying to be a "tough guy" or he's using profanity for a purpose in his lead. Now I say "he" and "his" because men do this much more than women. When I hear a man cuss intentionally or more than once, I will call him on it in my comments - and no, the speaker usally doesn't like it either. But AA is a "thing" that saved my life, and it's my responsibility to show respect. Like they say around here, "Don't give AA a black eye".

"Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change"

Well that promise really does include my language - and it is my own job to figure out how to use a vocabulary that doesn't offend folks. When I first started posting here, I was lazy in my grammar - I might have even posted a cuss word or two, but I had this girl who I called a "grammar teacher" point out that my language and word choices made me look stupid, and I didn't need to look stupid because I'm not stupid. So I made a conscious choice to change. That girl is long gone out of my life, but she was right and choosing to listen to her has sure enough made folks take me more seriously both in and out of the rooms.

I don't like to cuss or use profanity, but I still sometimes do - outside of AA. I heard this lady who is a roomate at my home get mad and use one of the same screwball profane expressions I use. You know, the things you say when you bust your knuckles wrenching on something, or something falls on your head, or smashes your hand while you're working on it. Well she said this, and at first I thought it was funny because you know "imitation is the highest form of flattery".

But the downside was that this woman is a mild-mannered girl who I never heard use those words before. She NEVER uses profanity. And there she was cussing just like me. Let me say it here like I felt it - I am ashamed of myself. Yes it was witty and funny, but for a lady like this to talk that way is just not something that would go over well no matter where she was talking. I'm also guilty of cussing at the dogs when they get goofy. This don't set a good example, and there are better words that I can choose to communicate in a kind way. When the book says that it's my purpose to be fit for maximum service to God and those about me, then I understand that to mean in everything I do.

I'd do best by communicating "God's thoughtfulness". I'm pretty sure God will always forgive me. But if I overheard God cussing someone out, I'd be worried that He'd do it to me, too.

Anyway - I'm with Dallas on this all the way. He's right about the landlord's conditions, too. Nobody in your group will be a worse person if they don't use profanity at your meeting. And what is being asked of them at meetings is not impossible and it doesn't hurt anyone.

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Postby Tim » Tue Jul 01, 2008 10:30 am

I knew that I could count on others here to help clarify this issue for me. Incidentally, at the meeting I noted where the rule was announced, the request was ignored by some and people continued to swear.

In meetings where people swear (almost all), I don't find any difference in frequency between new members, mid- and long-timers. It seems that some add profanity to their sharing the way some add Tabasco sauce to their food.

After reading your posts, I understand more clearly the requirements that organizations and churches may impose on AAs using space in their facility. Don't know that I am ready to show up in pink if that's the rule; however, I must be willing to go to any length to get sobriety.

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