I solemnly swear…this is a big effing deal
Yesterday, microphones picked up Vice-President Joe Biden “dropping the F bomb”.
You’ll notice as you read this blog that I don’t use swear words in it…even mild profanity that you can hear on TV.
For example, I’ll refer to the upcoming movie as Kick-*ss…even though you’ll see the full name almost everywhere else.
Here’s the part that may shock you…I don’t use profanity in “real life”, either.
Nope, not ever. Oh, I don’t mind quoting somebody and using it then…I have told a joke with a mild epithet in it. But I don’t use it spontaneously.
Since I don’t ever use it, I don’t need to restrain myself from using it. It’s not my impulse.
Does that make me a geek?
It’s one of the things that does. 😉
Now, here’s the other part where I want to be really clear. It’s okay with me if you use it. I watch movies that use it, and I read books that use it.
I don’t think anybody should restrict the language people use in art.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to use it.
It’s a somewhat complicated issue. Obviously, swearing at somebody is better than hitting them.
However, I’ve had somebody proudly tell me that if anybody used an ethnic slur, the whole neighborhood would physically attack that person. That was said as if it was a good thing.
I do try to use politically correct language. I go beyond where a lot of people go, and try to check terms. For example, “thug” comes from a Hindi term, and it was debatedly a religious group. Is it a slur to use that term for a US “thug”?
I was quite surprised when a famous politician objected to one word that equates merely stupid actions with an actual condition…and it was called the “R word”. That wasn’t a surprise, I understand that. The surprise was when the same politician used the word “lame” as an insult. Lame indicates a physical disability: it’s not okay to use a word for a mental condition as an insult, but it’s okay to use a word for a physical disability as an insult? I don’t see it.
Similarly, “gay” can simply refer to a personal’s sexual orientation, but it can also be used as an insult (with no connection to sexual orientation). When it is used in the latter manner, that seems like a slur to me.
I’ve even told jokes saying, “These two ethnic slurs are walking down the street.” :) Yes, literally saying “ethnic slurs”. The joke would most likely have nothing to do at all with a particular ethnicity, or even the perception of that ethnicity. The same joke might be told in different countries with different ethnicities.
Why don’t I use profanity?
Interesting question, even for me. I don’t like offending people…although I may want to challenge their concepts, sometimes, which can certainly offend them. It’s not because of the results…it’s not that I’m afraid of alienating folks. I literally don’t like making people feel bad. That’s clearly part of it.
I’ve also thought that it tends to replace more complex thought. The “f word” is remarkably flexible: noun, adjective, verb…impressive. If you use it, you don’t need to use a whole lot of other words.
Yes, it bothers me a bit when people do that with non-swear words. You can use “dude” to express every emotion known. I’d wager that truly skilled actors could communicate entire Shakespeare plays just using “dude”.
I like people to have flexibility in their vocabularies. That doesn’t mean I don’t repeat words a lot…I probably do that too often myself. I certainly repeat whole stories, but that’s a different rack of auks. 😉
I also think some fake swear words are fun. Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator used “cheese and crackers”. I have said, “Gosh all hemlock”. I do write the word “drat”.
So, Mr. Vice-President…it’s okay with me that you swore…although you can see the flap it’s caused. It doesn’t suggest a lot of self-awareness or control…two things I think might be good in the Executive branch. :) It does, though, show a certain genuine emotion.
What do you think? Is swearing a big “eff-ing” deal? Are you okay with the “s word” on broadcast TV? Is using a non-swear word (like the word for a female dog) unacceptable when used to insult a class of people?
Feel free to let me know…dude. 😉
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.