“Personally, I don’t find swearing offensive. I do find backstabbing, lying, cheating & fucking people over offensive, but not swearing.”
This showed up in my Facebook feed earlier today, and it got me to thinking about how we decide what is or isn’t “decent.” The above quote opens the door to questioning several types of douchebaggery, but I’ll stick to the communications part of the subject.
I generally consider profanity a verbal condiment. Add some of the right kind, and the savor goes up several notches. In fact, you probably couldn’t choke down foods like tofu, popcorn, or cereal without some sort of add-on. Swearing or naughtiness, like using condiments, is a balancing act, specific to each person and for different situations. Sometimes just a quiet “dammit” is enough, but when you’ve dropped the end of a sofa on your foot, there just don’t seem to be enough paint-peeling adjectives out there to fully express your feelings. There is a line, though—pour on too much hot sauce or salt, and that becomes all you taste. What’s the point of that?
However, in the communication realm, dirty language is typically the first—and often only—aspect to go down in the name of keeping it clean. Well, fuck that! It’s funny how some sites go so far as to censor certain words (replacing them with the very cinematic *beep* in imdb’s case), but things like nuclear-grade vitriol (“go kill yourself”), abysmal spelling, and attention-whoring go completely unchecked. That’s some majorly foul language right there, reflecting ugly thinking (and/or lack of thinking) on the authors’ parts. Yet the Decency Brigade lets that crap ooze on by in tsunami-like waves, which strikes me as hypocritical.
Yep, I jumped on spelling just now. I’m a writer; you care about spelling when you’re a writer. It’s been argued that it doesn’t matter, because the essence is still the same. So I wouldn’t want to hear any complaints about someone getting a pre-chewed Big Mac at McDonald’s, or seeing (OMG!!) a size-12 Victoria’s Secret model…after all, the essence would still be the same. No? Oh, okay then.
Speaking of being a “spelling Nazi,” I can’t be the only one who is SO done with the constant invocations of Hitler. What a childish way to attempt to shut down discourse between people who happen to disagree! I can’t even skim threads on social issues or politics without wanting to punch someone in the head, it’s so prevalent. Sure, Nazi Germany is a dark chapter in human history, no doubt. However, it was neither the first nor the last genocidal regime on the planet, and hardly the only time one group repressed and terrorized another. Dragging it into a thread about breastfeeding is just a sad attempt to “win” the discussion.
I’d rather read an intelligent and funny but filthy review of the Kama Sutra. That would be way less offensive to me than what often passes for “clean” conversation.