Contemplation: In Defense of Swearing

@IanLord: “Go back to Kansas you fucking piece of shit rednecks!!!!”

@agautsc: “Dear Google, if you don’t start working correctly soon I will curse at you in a way that would make @nhlord blush. ~Heart, Bear” 

For starters I’d like to say that I was really tempted to subtitle this post “A Fuck you to the fucking fuckers and shitty prudeness that cramps my god damn fucking American right to fucking free speech!” But that seemed like a really really long title so I left it as it is.

So yeah, two twitter swearing moments (or about twitter swearing anyways) above. The first was my brother’s expression of rage yesterday. The second is a running point with Bear (the @agautsc above) that I have one of the foulest mouths (typings?) on twitter.  I will fully admit, I probably swear quite a bit more than most people I encounter, not just on twitter, but in most aspects of my life.  When people ask me why I usually feel like responding “because I fucking like it ya dumb shit!” (Regardless of whether or not this is actaully what I say).

But seriously, why do I swear so much?  Well a number of reasons really.  I tend to swear out of frustration more than anything.  Essentially when things piss me off or get on my nerves it is not uncommon to hear me grumble a “son of a fucking bitch” or just hiss an enraged “shit!”  So that is one reason why I swear.  Another is when somebody is really pissing me off and I want to let them know it (which is similar to frustration, it is just directed at an individual or group of people).  I have no qualms about telling somebody to “fuck off.”  Along these same lines I will often refer to people, who may not be present, as “fuckers” or “shit heads” or “damn bastards” to signify my general dislike of them at the moment.  Finally, I often swear just because I do fucking like it god damnit!

Here’s the thing, I stand by what I said in my previous contempation, about having responsibility in regards to our use of language and how words can have real impacts on the world.  But in that regard I am talking about how hateful rhetoric, slander and libel, and manipulative language can cause serious consequences.  I believe this.  So does my swearing have real effects and consequences?  Yes, unquestionably, though I would say, in my defense in the very least, that I swear rather light heartedly and do not use it for overly hateful, slanderous, and/or manipulative purposes.

But my use of cursing has effects simply in that people notice it regularly and have personal aversion to the use of the language.  As such I tend to pursue a personal goal of censorship in a lot of social situations, knowing full well that I am more than likely to grumble a “fuck it” or a “fucking shit” here and there.  I do pretty good at work and pretty much always ask people to pardon my language if I feel the need to illustrate my opinion with some more colorful wording.  Let me make this clear though, I do this as a general courteous knowing full well that a “fuck” or “ass” or “shit-head” placed in dialog has tendency to offend some, I do not do it because I actually believe that these words are offensive.

That might be at the heart of it all.  Yes, words have power and meaning and can be used in a range of context, but to create morality of “this word is bad” is, in my blunt opinion, fucking inane and just damn arbitrary.  The reason why people get so worked up about swearing and take such “offense” (and pay attention to those fucking quotation marks there, because they are there for a god damn reason) is because they believe they have to take offense, that there is actually something bad about the word itself.  This, if I may say so, is fucking stupid.  The word alone only has a value and meaning in that we provide it with that value and meaning.  If people don’t want to be offended by swearing then all they need to do is not be offended by it.  I know, you probably want to say “but Lord it is not that easy! You see . . .” No! Fuck you!  It is that fucking easy!  Just get your fucking head out of your fucking ass and get the fuck over it! Gggrrrrrr!

I’m not saying that you need to find a place to use a “fuck” or a “shit” or a “son-of-a-bitch” in every sentence you speak, you don’t.  If you have no use for the words then don’t use them.  All around I could care less about that.  But if you feign this fucking ridiculous offense, and yes you are feigning it, then all you are doing is supporting this meaningless prerogative that the word is actually “bad.”  If you just ignore it, or allow it to diminish in meaning (which is part of why I allow myself to swear, to break the meaning) eventually you probably won’t even notice it any more when people swear and then there isn’t a problem.

“But Lord it is aggressive and angry language.  Can’t you . . .”

No god damnit!  No! Anything can be made into aggressive and angry language if you put it in the right context and, if you are speaking, back it with enough rage.  You could say “happy rainbow unicorn fun time!” with all sorts of fucking rage if you’d like to.  In fact I would say that it is better to using swearing to express anger than stupid meaningless things like “fiddle-sticks” or “shoot” or “frigging” or what have you, because in using them you are intending a supplement to the actual swears (shocker “shoot” and “frigging” are just “non-offense” deviations for “shit” and “fucking”).  How is the supplement any better, huh?  It isn’t because it is just a word as much as the swear being used with the same context and meaning.  It is again creating this false sense that certain words are actually “bad” as if something so created and fluid as language could ever have a real good or bad value (yes, the context of how the language is used can be good or bad depending on its effects, but the words themselves are essentially abstracts without any value unless people choose to place that value on them).

I could go on and on with this, but I think I am going to wrap it up here.  I don’t care if you agree with me or not, it really isn’t my problem.  If you really do, honest to god,  take offense of every f-bomb that is uttered than I apologize and will, out of respect try to restrain my swearing around you.  But that being said, if you are just taking on this look of shock and awe when somebody says “shit” because “you are supposed to” then all I have to say to you is a big ol’ “FUCK YOU! Get the fuck over it!”

There, the fucking end.

Post post (which is obviously still part of this post):  In the intention of offering a little context in to how I have come to my stance on swearing  allow me to share the following.

Admittedly a big part of it probably has to due with my quasi-relativistic view of ethics (I am not going to try and explain my ethical outlook on life beyond calling it quasi-relativistic) and also my current stance of being a self avowed absurdist.  These two things have an unquestionable influence in a lot of how I regard and interact with the world including my stance on swearing.

But I think that my real struggle and frustration with the concept of swearing can be traced back to my childhood.  It isn’t that my parents were notoriously foul mouthed or swore above any average.  Sure they might curse here or there but for the most part it was avoided.  In truth I probably swear significantly more than anybody else in my immediate family (my brother does it quite a bit too, but I don’t think to the same consistency as I do).

Here is a story, which in further contemplation I think really illustrates my development into an avid swearer and having a general disregard/disdain for the “ethical” implications of swearing. 

When I was in second grade I was sitting at my desk, doing some class work of some sort or another when, for no real reason I just said “well fuck” loud enough for everyone in my small classroom to hear.  My teacher, as I suppose is to be expected, was furious, and leaped up and demanded I explain myself immediately or I could find my way down to the principles office.  Here is the thing though; I had no clue what “fuck” meant or even that it was a bad word.  Obviously I had picked it up somewhere, but had completely missed the context/connotation and so to me it was a meaningless thing.  I don’t know why I said it in class, but do children always know why they do a lot of things?  Seeing that look of extreme displeasure and anger on my teacher’s face horrified me.  I was a good kid and suddenly I was being treated like one of the worst of the worst.  I had never been sent to the principles office before.  Really all I could do was look on wide eyed and feel myself beginning to tear-up due to confusion and unplaceable guilt.

My teacher was not a fool or jerk or type of person who’d rub guilt into a kid who obviously was at a loss to what they had done wrong and quickly remedied his response and took me out into the hall to talk to me about what had just happened.  He explained to me about how the word I had just said was a “bad word” and “not okay” but that it was alright and that I didn’t know that and just needed to make sure that I didn’t use it again.  I think by this point I was full sobbing and apologizing mostly out of confusion as to what was really wrong.  My teacher told me it was all right and not to worry about it too much, I wasn’t in any trouble, I just needed not to do it again.

I’ve never forgotten that moment.  Ever.  Back in second grade I accepted that fuck was a “bad” word and thus made careful sure to avoid using it again.  Still I didn’t forget, and I grew up as most people do.  I got exposed to a whole bunch of other swears (and other things) over the years and toyed with their meanings, use, context, etc.  And still I never forgot that occurrence in second grade.  Growing wiser and more mature I began to seriously contemplate that event and eventually I found that I harbored some real ill feelings toward the whole thing.  Not at my teacher really, but at the extreme guilt I was made to suffer in my youthful ignorance all because a stupid fucking (ha) word had been deemed “bad.” 

I honestly think it has been my on going contemplation of the pure innocent suffering at that loss of innocence that I really loath about the whole belief in the badness or inappropriateness of swearing.  I have a similar feeling about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus (but that is another story for another time).  Basically what you should get about this is how I react to being made to feel guilty.  Guilt is, I believe, and unavoidable part of the human psyche (unless you are a sociopath I suppose) and in some ways it serves an important function, but it is often leveraged to cause some of the most extreme and tormenting existential suffering and I have a very strong loathing for when it is utilized in that way.  My personal feelings about how guilt is sometimes used probably says a whole lot about my beliefs and opinions.  I will let you draw your own conclusions from what little I have offered here.

Okay, now done for real.

~ by Nathaniel on September 2, 2009.

One Response to “Contemplation: In Defense of Swearing”

  1. […] the Room for Debate pieces do).  It is also a topic that interests me, as you can determine from my previous profanity rich contemplation (a piece that I will admit is a bit exaggerated and angry, though I do stand by its basic premise […]

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