Monday, 1 July 2013

For F_ck's Sake

Fuck . . . I didn't want to censor the title of this blog, but I was worried that people would be 'offended'. It makes me feel literally unwell when I have to do that. I don't like having to censor swear words, because it's so unnatural. I have to stifle myself, who I am and the way my mind works.
That's why there's swear words throughout this post, and indeed throughout my blog. I'm Australian, I like to swear. I consider it a national pastime and a part of our cultural identity, as the spawn of foul-mouth sailors and convicts. Swearing is a part of who I am. If I had to remove all the swear words, then I might as well remove all the other words too, because they are just as much a part of me.
But that's not the reason that I like to swear in the casual way that I do. It's actually a lot deeper than that. I swear because I see that this 'offence' at swearing or 'curse words' is an outdated and backwards notion and I want to eliminate it entirely. The Word of the Day is: 'CURSE'.

Curse /kers/ n. 1. The expression of a wish that evil things will happen to someone. 2. Swearing; a blasphemous or obscene oath. 3. An evil that has been called upon someone. 4. The Curse, Colloquial menstruation. ♦v.t. 5. To wish or call evil, accident, or injury upon. 6. To swear at. 7. To cause to suffer from. ♦v.i. 8. To swear; utter curses.

There is one reason why I like to swear, above all others. 'Curse' Words are still words, and I believe they deserve the same respect as other words. But this also means they deserve the same standard. So before you go swearing up a storm, I want you to remember how dumb this sounds:
"Oh my God, I was, like, in the - like - thing. And . . . like, the guy that a like was, like . . . I dunno, just like so . . . I dunno, it was like 'oh-my-god', like, do you know what I, like, mean?"
When you overuse words, you sound like a moron with the vocabulary of a stoat. So when you fucking talk like a fucking motherfucking fucker who fucking swears every second-fucking word . . .
You just sound like a fucking moron. There are so many words in the English language, if you keep leaning on one like a crutch, it's going to be pretty obvious that you are mentally handicapped. So this isn't open season for cursing and I don't want to stir up a verbal shitstorm, but I want people to appreciate words for what they really are, and not how people have trained them to feel about them.
You see, I understand that this 'offence' at swear words is something that we were taught. When we hear a bad word, in our minds we go "Ooh! Bad Word!" and chastise the speaker. But have you ever asked Why?

There's a couple of reasons for this, but today, I am going to explain why all of them are stupid.

Some people complain that Rude Words "Mean Rude Things" and that's why we shouldn't say them. Right off the bat, this is fucking stupid. Because, right there, when I said "fucking stupid" while some people would get offended with the word "fucking", they wouldn't give two shits about the word "stupid". But stupid is quite a rude thing to say! You're doubting, demeaning or denying someone's intelligence, that's a very rude and disrespectful thing to do. Why can we then say the word 'stupid' without people getting upset?
No, it's not because it's "less offensive", that claim holds no water. Because I can, in fact, call someone a panty-sniffing child molester, and you can't do a damn thing about it, because I "didn't swear". I would argue that calling someone a panty-sniffing child molester is a much harsher insult than calling them, say, a bastard. In fact, there are a lot of words that we can say that are ruder, so why can I say one and not the other?
In fact, when you think about it, they don't actually mean rude things. Let's look at some of these supposedly harsh words here:
  • Arsehole - Well, that's just your anus. It's a part of your body, and it serves a vital function . . . oh no, I'm so offended(!)
  • Bastard - A child born out of wedlock. Unless this is the 1800s, we've outgrown this kind of nonsense.
  • Bitch - A female dog. I like dogs, but it is also used for an unkind person (often female) that causes unpleasant things to happen to others.
  • Cunt - A vagina. What is this, third grade? Getting embarassed when someone mentions a vagina is just childish.
  • Fuck - Sex, a vital function for the survival of the species, which is also very pleasurable. Why am I doing this? We know what 'fuck' means . . .
  • Shit - Poop. Faeces. Crap. Post-digestion Biological Waste. It stinks, and that's about the entire joke with crap.

I can call you a crappy anus, and it would just sound odd. But if I call someone a shitty arsehole, then we get offended? HOW DO YOU PEOPLE MAKE THIS DISCONNECT?!! They mean the same fucking thing!
Sure, some words have been reconstituted to have a broader and more flexible meaning, but that's because insults are so often metaphors. They need that flexibility for the variety of offense that we wish to cause.
The only word here that can be considered 'rude' is bitch, since it means 'unkind person'. But I don't believe that means we can't say it. It exists for a reason and that reason doesn't have to be unpleasant.

Among my friends and family, the word 'bitch' is often used for people who do mildly annoying things, such as avoiding housework or complain too much. I would call such words Terms of Debasement, similar to "Terms of Endearment", but rather than trying to lift up someone's spirits to show your respect, you show your respect by giving them the same treatment as you expect of yourself. It's a measure of equality and kinship.
And if you think that's offensive, then you disgust me and I think you are offensive.

Another reason people complain about "swear words" is what I would call the Think of the Children Argument. This is essentially the point that, whether or not I personally find the words offensive, others do and I should cater to their whims by censoring words. This argument is goddamned ridiculous.
I call this the Think of the Children Argument, because that's often how it's implemented. If you are on children's television, or often seen by young people, then you can't swear because the words will somehow infect their precious little ears, so you can't say it. But let's do the world a favour and collectively wake up to this stupidity. Because this claim is ridiculous, for three reasons.

Firstly, children don't know what the words mean. Children can't be offended by these words because they don't know why they are offensive. Not that they are, in my opinion, offensive; but even if they were, what sense is there in banning a word that kids don't know? Kids are gonna learn them anyway. I know, because people have been doing this don't swear around children routine for years, and swear words still exist. So obviously those kids grew up, became adults and learned them anyway, so any purpose served by postponing their knowledge of these words is defeated when they grow up.

Secondly, you DO know what the words mean. This post is called "For F_ck's Sake" because I am arguing for the sake of swear words. When you read that, you, mentally, read the word Fuck. I didn't write it, but you read it . . . so what purpose does the underscore serve beyond appeasing stupid people? Everyone who knows the word "fuck" is going to read the word "fuck" when I write f_ck. Or even when I write f*ck; f██k; f---; the F-word; frig; frick; frell; flarn or frak, in this context. These words all exist as placeholders for the real word, but why? You KNOW what the word is, why do I have to pretend you don't? Louis C.K. made this point himself: when you use a placeholder word for a "more offensive" word, you aren't removing the original word, you're just playing pass the parcel and making the listener say the word instead. Sure, people who don't know the word "fuck" won't read fuck. But then again, if they don't know they word, THEN THEY WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS ANYWAY!!
Oh my God! Why are people so fucking stupid. The only reason I censored the word is because other people might link to this blog, and that is what is expected of me. But it doesn't do a damn thing, so can't we all accept that?

Thirdly, the third and final reason why the "Think of the Children" Argument is flawed: "By making the words 'banned', you make them more desirable."
You might think that banning a word makes people want to avoid them, but that's completely wrong. If you want to know the reason why, then whatever you do:
DON'T click --> This Link <-- Right Here
You're not allowed to, so don't do it. It may be a lot of fun, and even I have clicked on the link and enjoyed it. But it's not for you. You wouldn't even understand why it's so cool and how it explains everything, you're too stupid to understand, so I'm just here to tell you not to click the link. In fact, you'll be in trouble if I found out that you did click the link. So just don't do it, because I told you not to, okay . . .?


You clicked the button, didn't you? Or, at least, you wanted to. It's only natural that you would be curious what's behind a link if I tell you not to look there. If I tell you not to do something, your mind immediately asks Why? Even if you don't, kids do. It's a key facet of childhood that we want to learn; we want to know & we want the truth. If you then tell us that there are truths we cannot know, then we want to know even more. Especially with something as stupid as swear words, which are so prevalent and yet kept from us, as kids it feels like we're being kept out of some sort of special club that encompasses everyone but us, and in a way we are . . .

The biggest reason we don't tell kids about rude things is because kids are horrible people. There are a lot of kids that, after Sexual Education, will march around going "Boys have a Penis, Girls have a Vagina."
The reason they do that is because someone told them not to. They tell them "don't say that, it's crude!" and when the kid sees how embarrassed people get, they do it even more for the attention it gets them. Kids crave attention, and if they find a quick way to get attention is to say something embarrassing, they do that.
The same thing happens with rude words. If a kid hears a rude word, and you say "Don't say that!" and get all embarrassed, they'll say it even more to get attention, pretty much until you smack them.

This leads directly into my ultimate thesis for this post.

There is no real reason for 'rude words' to be banned in the way they are. The only power that curse words have is the power we give them by telling everyone not to say them. Even though there are words both similar to and worse than swear words, we give them a greater power by being offended by them. But there is no need for this offense. So why does the offense exist?
Its existence is related to the word 'curse'. We call them 'curse' words. Why? Because we believed they would literally curse people. Back when people believed that God was not only real, but that he interacted on a daily basis, they believed that if you said "Goddamn you!", then they literally meant that God should not only damn you, but that he actually did, since God is Righteous and all that. They believed that these words were like magic curses with literal power over the world, and speaking them aloud incurred punishment. Especially blasphemy, as God is Vengeful too, and has every right to kill you if you blaspheme.
This notion has warped and twisted, but it's still the core reason why we fear these words. Old-fashioned superstitions and nonsense.
But it doesn't have to stay this way. All we have to do is stop letting 'rude words' sit on the outside of language so much. I can guarantee that if we stopped all this fear of swear words, then swear words would cease to exist. If others would just start to swear casually - not all the fucking time, mind you, just when appropriate - then swear words would cease to exist and we would just have words. All words would be words again, and kids would have no more interest in saying 'fuck' than they would in saying 'denouement'; because it would just be another word. As it should be and, in fact, always has been.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and if you've got a problem with all the swearing people do these days, then the solution is simple: stop being such a prick about it.

2 comments:

  1. I remember an Arthur episode that explained that cursing is a rude way of saying, "I'm trying to hurt your feelings." It's not so much the words themselves but rather the intent. Using curse words also has the social implication that you have lost control over your emotions and words, so that you cannot speak nicely.

    I think the reason why "asshole," "cunt," and "fuck" are considered naughtier than anus, vagina and screw is because phonetically they sound like harder words, with precise consonants and cutting pronunciation. They're like the words who wear bikinis to church or have wardrobe malfunctions at the Super Bowl; they are punks who must be eliminated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Generally, they are not nice words . . . but I don't see why being "Not Nice" is grounds for deletion or exclusion. I personally find the word "rape" very cruel and I feel sick when I hear it. I would prefer it if nobody said it.
      But getting rid of the word won't get rid of the feeling. It's the same with rude words. If I hate someone, I could call them a pile of shit. If someone tells me NOT to say that, I will insult them some other way. So I still don't see the benefit that eliminating rude words serves.

      The concept of wearing a bikini in church or being nude in public is, I feel, a perfect example. We don't go nude in public because hormonal teenagers couldn't handles it (THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!). And we can't wear a bikini in church - why? As an atheist, I don't understand the rule. But it continues because of a false sense of authority and a overly sensitive concept of decency.
      There's no PRACTICAL reason, we just DO it because we've always been that way. I suggest we throw the old rules about swearing out the window, because they serve no practical purpose. It's just silly superstition.

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Feel free to make suggestions, ask questions & comment . . .
I would love to read your words.