On the Subject of Swearing

Salon.com question: A Michigan man faces a possible jail term of up to 90 days and a $100 fine for swearing in front of children, after he was dumped from his canoe. His attorney has argued the charges are ludicrous, since profanity is so pervasive in our culture. While most of us might agree that loud swearing in public is rude, isn’t legal action over the top? Where do you place the line between freedom of speech and propriety? Does your role as a parent/non-parent affect your decision?

Parental AdvisoryMy Answer: The fact that we even have words that are considered “profane” is ridiculous. Words are words, and nothing more. They only exist to describe things. The words poop, crap, and shit all mean exactly the same thing. Why on earth is one of them incorrect to use and the others not? Why is it okay to say “having sex” or “making love” or even “shagging” (Austin!) but not “fuck?” And frankly, I cringe every time I hear the word poop, and think that it should be outlawed along with the rest of them. It’s far too silly to be used by real live people. Maybe only sock puppets should say it.

This censorship of some words but not others is a ridiculous throw-back to some bygone era where bodily functions weren’t okay to talk about at all. Well they are now, and we are all a lot better off for it. It’s time society changed these silly rules.

I went to see the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut this weekend – even I was completely astonished at the volume of swear words in the movie, and the creative uses to which they were put. I was astonished, but not offended. In fact, I thought it was hysterical, and they certainly made their point in the movie’s plot – the town freaks out when the little kids all start using swear words they heard at a movie, but they don’t hesitate to show their children extreme violence.

I’m sick and tired of being the unwilling babysitter of all of the nation’s children. First the country censors record albums and television programs because parents are too lazy to look after their children and keep track of what they’re doing. Now they want to censor my own speech as well.

No. If I had a child, and he/she happened to overhear someone swearing, I would calmly explain to him/her why those are words that get people excited/upset, therefore we shouldn’t repeat them except in the privacy of our home, where it’s fun. Of course, this probably won’t ever happen, because my kids will know all the swear words anyway. And not by accident, either. I’ll teach them to my kids on purpose. As their first words. Imagine my mother’s surprise when she picks up her adorable little granddaughter, and the child says, not “grandma!” but “Shit!”

To some extent I am joking here, but I think I will be teaching my kids the swear words – and what the consequences are for saying them in front of people who aren’t as enlightened as I am.

As far as this man in Michigan is concerned, my understanding was that there were some serious differences of opinion amongst the witnesses in this case as to how long and loud this man swore when dumped out of his canoe; the people with him said one thing whereas the family downstream said something else. And the cop even further downstream seemed to think he was swearing louder and longer than anyone.

I’d consider this to be discourse. He was conveying to his friends his dismay, anger, fear at being unceremoniously dumped out of a canoe. There was a message sent and received. Discourse.

And just for the record:

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit fuck fuck fuck fuck shit.

There. I feel much better.

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5 comments on “On the Subject of Swearing
  1. Since I got a dog, I’ve since embraced the word poop, because it’s appropriate in the context of my dog’s outdoor activities. You kinda have to see the dog.

  2. I’m glad to hear that. Poop is one of my favorite words. It just makes me giggle when I say it, as does the word poo. 🙂

  3. Tina says:

    The word poo is cool. When i was young my English parents made us refer to the “ïtem” as ba ba. God knows why, hoever inlater year it made reading Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves a tad embarassing for me!

  4. Tina says:

    The word poop is cool. When I was young my english parents made us refer to the “ïtem” as ba ba.(God knows why? I have never heard of anyone else using this term!) however in later year it made reading Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves a tad embarassing for me! I guess no more so than others reading Pooh Bear. I just remember alternating between giggles and a hot face!
    As for the main story, I don’t get it?! They even use the “F”& “C” words on TV these days. Can we sue if our children happen to hear this?

  5. mikee says:

    what i dun fucking get is why the fuck shit isnt allowed on TV. Crap is what the fuck is the difference.

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