Really? Is there such a thing? I don’t think there is. Words are not “good” or “bad” any more than any other tool available to mankind. It is ridiculous to say that they are. It would be like saying a hammer is bad. Well, not if you are nailing floorboards, but maybe if you are hitting someone with it.
If you disagree that is fine with me, but I would recommend you unsubscribe and quit following this blog now for both our sakes. We will both be happier people. Because otherwise I am going to offend you and you are going to piss me off. Stop reading here.
While I don’t believe that words can be categorized as good and bad, I am sure there is appropriateness.
And there are plenty of times it is perfectly appropriate to just say “Fuck.”
Like when I get off the phone with my cell phone company that, a mere six months ago, sold me a phone for $250 that is either defective or is incapable of performing the functions I need it to perform. And the only thing they will do is wipe all of my information off of it (with no help for backing it up and saving it – I just lose it), reset it and give it back to see if that works. No help and no new phone… I am just out six months of information or $250 or, most likely both.
See? Totally appropriate.
You know with that one word the feelings of anger, frustration and powerlessness I felt. And believe you me, it was most certainly necessary (Although I will say that I did not use any harsh language with the customer service rep. I didn’t need to. I am pretty sure she knew. And it was not her fault. Just a fucked up policy that left me hanging out to dry).
In the spirit of appropriateness, though, when I posted a little vent of a post on Facebook, I did not use the word Fuck, because it is so incendiary. I said suck and DAMMIT. Much better. Obviously, not everyone agreed with me. But that is fine. There is an unsubscribe button that works just fine. I tested it.
When I was a kid I was taught not to cuss (you see how well that worked). And in my parents’ house, “gosh” was considered a cuss word as it was just a substitute word for taking the Lord’s name in vain (which, by the way is the only forbidden word I know of in the Bible. That “idle words” passage does not count as cuss words are certainly not idle, but very active and hardworking words). But I am pretty sure that God (or at least the God my parents believe in) was not fooled by “shoot” or “dog-on-it” or “dag nabbit” or anything else. So you might as well have the balls to just say “shit” or “god dammit” and not try to pull the wool over God’s eyes by using euphemisms. I’m pretty sure he already knew what you wanted to say, anyway, right?
I love words. English is ripe with stolen words from other times and languages. As far as I am concerned, there is a reason for all of them. There is a word or series of words for any emotion or idea you would like to express. And some of those ideas and emotions are decidedly negative and may require harsher words to fully express them.
That doesn’t mean I believe harsh language should be used against a person. Calling someone a name is never appropriate (Rush Limbaugh, I am talking to you – and a lot of people would not consider “slut” a cuss word – I think they are missing the point). It is wrong to demean others whether the words you use are cuss words are not. And, trust me, I am from the South. You can be dressed down mightily without so much as a “dammit” crossing someone’s lips down here. And that crap about sticks and stones and words will never hurt you is bullshit (see, perfectly appropriate use of that word because it is just that – bullshit). Words can hurt more than anything and the scars from them can last a lifetime.
Intent. That is the key. Using harsh words to express your own harsh feelings and circumstances is fine. Using words to hurt others, whether they are cuss words or not, is never ok.
I have been told in polite surroundings, that cussing is the refuge of a low mind lacking the ability to express itself. But I don’t buy that for a second. Having less of a vocabulary to choose from because certain words are off the table does not make you a more expressive person. It makes you a person who has decided to limit your vocabulary.
If that is your choice, that is fine with me, but don’t expect me to do the same. I like to have the full repertoire to choose from, thank you.
Now there may be those who simply have a shitty, worthless vocabulary consisting of mostly cuss words and who are inarticulate in any other way so they over use cuss words to get their point across. But that kind of person has a communication problem and maybe a literacy problem, not a cussing problem.
As far as kids go, well, that is a decision that each parent has to make. I try not to say damn, shit or fuck around my four year old. I don’t like hearing them from my 20 year old, either. But even my four year old knows that shit is a “grown up word,” so I am pretty sure someone’s ten year old has heard it before as well. And I didn’t friend your kids on Facebook. But I went to middle school and high school. There is not a ten year old living outside a compound that hasn’t heard – or used – a cuss word. If you think that there is, you are living under a rock. Or maybe in a compound.
And just like sex or anything else you have to teach your kids about, you had better be ready to teach appropriateness of words and actions. Because they are going to do things that you would rather they not – cuss, drink, have sex. And, of the three, I’d much rather hear my kids say shit.