Thursday, October 8, 2015

Don't Read this F*cking Post...

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...unless you don't have a problem with so-called profanity. You've been warned.

It's about curse words and I'm sure I'm not entirely ahead of my time with these ideas. The words that our world has chosen to find distasteful and bad are those words that describe sex, our bodies, and religious issues. It's bizarre that these are the words that have been chosen for thousands of years to be considered profane. When you consider the source of what is defined as profane, though, it becomes clearer and more interesting.

Even the word profane is religion-based. The word profane actually means sacrilegious, blasphemous, and ungodly, literally outside of the templeIn my book, things sacrilegious, blasphemous, and ungodly are actually neutral, given the fact that there is no such thing as sacrilege, blasphemy, or god outside of the church. When you can escape the churchy inculcation and let go of all religious belief, you begin to have a clear ability to view the so-called bad words in a different way. Without the misleading guilt and fear of religion, words are just ...words. I wonder if, with clearer thought those words can be examined far more transparently. 

Please, consider the following. 
Words like hell, Jesus H. Christ, goddamn, and damn are merely reflection of the Christian ethic. These words are considered shocking only in the narrow view of that specific belief system. In their older, more elemental meaning, these damning words refer to a person or to a world without god, a godless person, a person cursed to a tormenting afterlife. Curse=cuss. In a secular world, none of these words hold any particular meaning or sinful context...and why should they?
It is quite freeing and interesting.

Words have the ability to reflect the intention of the speaker or of the audience. Words are unique in that they may have a given, agreed upon meaning but context still means everything. Even non-profanity can be offensive given the wrong context. As I recall, as a kid I remember my brother calling us diphthongs (two adjacent vowel sounds occurring within the same syllable) during his his freshman year of high school while he was taking a foreign language. He definitely meant to upset my sisters and I, I guaran-damn-tee it. And he did upset us, even though we completely understood what an actual diphthong was. It was his intention that hurt us.

Isn't it interesting that our species has created an entire class of words that are intended to be insulting or shocking?! Isn't that something? While profanity does serve some emotional needs, mainly to express anger or disgust, to release strong emotion, to emphasis, or to connect informally with others, it is still interesting that humans in all cultures at all times (or most) have created an list of bad words to use in certain situations. Taboo words. How exciting and colorful!

I did some reading about profanity in non-English, non-Christian languages and discovered that not all bad words in these other non-Christian cultures are about sex or religion; many slurs are criticism of character. A variety of words that include lazy, nerd, shameful, ugly, one who fails, criminal, smelly, hey, your family is dead, and go die suggest that injuring someone's reputation or familial good name is an ultimate put down. Character assassination is very emotion-charged language. Admittedly, these cultures also considered fuck, dick, and whore to be shocking four-letter words as well.

I'm not arguing that the traditional profanity isn't shocking to hear, only that our list of profane things is generally religion-related and, therefore, just doesn't hold the old sense of shock anymore. The sex words aren't quite as fiendish anymore either. Fuck and douche and balls and dick just don't seem quite as appalling anymore as they used least not to me.

Do you know what does still appall me?
Willful ignorance, prejudice, selfishness, lack of compassion, violence, victimization, injustice.

What if, instead of calling someone who is loathsome a douche we called them a victimizer or unyielding or unjust or a person who needs a kinder heart or a person who needs to understand or a person who chooses to misunderstand or a person ignoring the facts or a person who needs to understand common decency or a person who misuses the earth and its resources or a person who is unkind or a person who refuses to learn. THESE words would be offensive if they were directed to me. This type of remark might be more accurate and more direct, but they aren't emphatic enough.
OK, dumb ass it is.

Are you willing to reconsider profanity?
How much profanity do you use?
How much do you allow your kids?

You Might Also Enjoy:
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  1. This is awesome! And so true. It's been a very liberating experience for me to begin to expand my vocabulary. =)
    Also some other words, which I once found to be harmless I now don't ever say. Words that are insulting to large groups of wonderful people. For instance I am more offended now by words like "retard" or "cunt" than I ever was. But I absolutely love sneaking in "fuck" to my sentences wherever I can. =)

  2. I use profanity freely... And we let our son, though we do caution him that it can effect how people react to him. Thx for the new word! Lalochezia, there's a word for yelling FUCK, after stabbing ones toe. That is awesome.


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