Profanity not f*cking profane

Anti-profanity sign posted in Virginia Beach, along US Route 60. Photo by Mobilus In Mobili. CC BY-SA 2.0

Fuck.

It’s four letters, one syllable and a metric – excuse the term – fuckton of negative connotation.

When I was growing up I avoided the word, and all similarly vulgar words, because I thought that saying such things was a no-no in the eyes of God.

But as I grew old enough to question the all-knowing cultural mindset, I came to an astounding revelation:

Prohibited words and phrases – including “Jesus Christ,” “God damn it” and the “Fatal Felony” itself – are completely legitimate. There is nothing wrong with using them.

Some of them, such as exclaiming “Christ,” have evolved from things like “Christ preserve me!” Used by those who believe in Christ, it’s not wrong. It’s a prayer. And the “God” thing? Same deal, but more than that: God is not His name. It’s a title, originally used in place of the name to avoid breaking the commandment that “Thou shalt not speak the Lord’s name in vain.”

And then there’s the bomb. The “F-word”: a word that can imply filth, fornication and even fun. Despite cultural desensitizing and increased use, it still draws offended gasps and can single-handedly increase the ratings of movies that otherwise would never reach an R rating.

Often substituted by frick, freak, frag or fudge, it has lurked in society’s shadows for centuries, its origin still debated. Its guttural sound, when properly used, emphasizes and draws attention to whatever is being said in a way that says “I’m tired of skirting around the issue.”

Moreover, it feels fucking fantastic to say. A real stress-reliever.

It’s the top dog, the mother of all no-nos.

But why?

Religion can’t be blamed for this one. I read through the Bible a number of times and never once found anything along the lines of “Thou shalt not droppeth the F-bomb.”

The problem lies in upbringing.

It’s not wrong to tell children not to say that word – they shouldn’t. Not until they’re old enough to understand the meaning and how to best use the bristling power contained within this unique assemblage of letters.

But, for the love of God, they should be told that they just aren’t old enough. It’s an honest explanation used for so many other things children are prohibited from, and yet many parents seem to t hink that it’s just not enough to deter their children in this instance.

So we’re told, as we learn of the existence of the bomb and its compatriots, that these words are wrong. This isn’t limited to religious families; many children are taught that the words are wrong even without the threat of otherworldly repercussions.

It’s insane. To bar the use of words that feel so damned good to say is nothing short of madness.

Now, that isn’t a carte blanche to use them anytime, anywhere. They’re powerful words, to be sure, and overusing them diminishes their power. Unfortunately, the notion that the words are inherently wrong, simply by nature of their existence, encourages their flagrant misuse by wannabe rebels lacking in imagination.

What happens as a result is a society comprised mostly of two incredibly unbearable stereotypes: those who are too easily offended by these “bad words” and those who overuse and pervert the words for no other reason than because they’re told not to.

These words have been mishandled long enough. They’re not wrong, and they’re also not meant to be treated as casually as a handshake. Stop bitching about being offended. Stop going out of your way to offend.

Do it for the children.

Anti-profanity sign posted in Virginia Beach, along US Route 60. Photo by Mobilus In Mobili. CC BY-SA 2.0


This article first appeared in Volume 40, Issue 23 of The Clackamas Print.

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