Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Smile Like a Saint, Curse Like a Sailor

My sister and I curse - All. The. Time. - well, at least at home that is. We call each other every name under the sun, but usually it's just teasing (What's up, ho? Nothin' bitch). Of course, to people who only curse when their angry or upset, this may be a little confusing , but this is where intent (as has already been somewhat discussed) comes in. There are a lot of other clues, in speech and body language, that makes it very clear when we cross the line between playing around and anger.

My mother hates it, and has tried repeatedly to ban us from using "that language", but we just kind of laugh, and do it anyway. Her arguments are really weak. The first one is "What are you going to do when you have kids?". Ummm, ok that's not even an issue, and probably won't be for quite some time, but let's explore, shall we? I don't curse when I'm at work except maybe an occasional "hell" or "damn", but that's pretty rare. Does she think that I'm completely unable to control myself? I can tell when and around whom it's acceptable to curse, and behave accordingly. I'm not some 5 yr old who has learned a new word, and just blurts it out whenever I feel like it.

The second is "You must not be as intelligent as you think, if you can't come up with other words to say." I can be quite eloquent when I want to be, but it comes down to one thing - I like to curse. Sure I could come up with other words, but most of the time they don't get the point across like using the word "fuck" can.

Substituting words like freakin'? Please - just say the word because (as Jane said), the intent is there. Why sugar-coat it? When I worked at a camp, one of the leaders of a group had taken to saying "Oh my stars" instead of "Oh my gosh" because she thought it was too close to "Oh my God", and was still offensive. I thought that was pretty good compromise, but if you're still thinking "Oh my God", and you're Christian, well you're damning yourself anyway by thinking it, so why not say it?

As far as Imus, I guess he gets what he deserves, but (to bring back an old topic) what's the difference between what he did and Ann Coulter's remark? She got a slap on the wrist (if that), and he gets fired. Granted his was on air, and hers was at a conference or meeting, but was it also because of the target? Of course maybe it's because hers made no sense (Edwards isn't even gay), that people didn't put up more of a fuss.

Also, everyone is going on about how rap music has the same offensive words, but there is a difference. Their lyrics, though offensive, are probably not aimed at anyone specifically, whereas Imus's were. It's one thing to make a stupid generalization, but it's quite different when you make it personal. As far as the difference between Tennessee (or whatever the other team was) being "cute", and Rutgers, he was talking about how Rutgers had tattoos (I guess that cancels out any cuteness), and was trying to make them out to be tough girls, and said the wrong thing.

Of course there are tons of exceptions to the rap lyrics. Eminem has written songs about killing his wife. I meant that there were no songs that were calling specific women "hoes". (Except Eminem - damn!) Anyways - what's the difference between calling women offensive names and saying you want to kill a cop? My point being you're going to have to censor a lot of things, and where do you stop?


Sean said...

I still can't (won't?) curse around my family.

jane said...

A lot of the music I listen to (and I like to think of myself as a bit of a music snob) uses the word "fuck." My mom has frequently commented that their use of the word "fuck" is *obviously* a sign that they're not as intelligent as I seem to think they are.

There is definitely a generation gap issue here!

Adeline said...

warning, this comment may be offensive, my self editing isn't on....

yeah generation gap i suppose, and i am on the old side of it. swearing to me always seems like a copout. when i swear (seldom at best anymore) i feel like "couldn't I do better than that?" its like gratuitous sex in a movie or something, its meaningless and a vacant attempt at shock value or appeal...doesnt do it for me...it does make me think that falling back on a cuss word is less intelligent because one is not able to articulate.

and from experience, i know that when i use the words in my off time, they will slip out when they are least desired or expected as well...i guess i am uncontrolled (clearly, as I am asking for it here, probably)

jane said...

That wasn't offensive at all, Adeline. Although it did sound a lot like something my mom might say...

caitlin said...

I don't get the argument people try to make when they say it's "not intelligent." Using the right word for the occasion, that conveys the meaning you desire to convey, seems to me to be the very definition of precise diction. If "fuck" says what I want it to say, using it doesn't make me any less articulate.

Anonymous said...

I've recently started saying "Gee Whiz" again. I have no problem with cussing, I just think that it's funnier to say "gee whiz." The other day I said "damn" while teaching. I wasn't really thinking. Hopefully my student evaluations will not say that I cuss like a sailor. These were, afterall, college students.


Anonymous said...

I think the real threat comes from an idea of one body deciding what is offensive and what isn't; who comprises this body?

What Imus said is less offensive than it is ASSinine (natch!). I'd like to (facetiously) speculate on what happens to the cattle on his 'Imus ranch'...to which, the answer offends ME. I think the ungainly words a prunish artifact of a man are considerably less violent say, than a bolt-gun.

But I digress, what we're talking about here is still language and language should still be about communicating ideas. Cursing--though often common & pedestrian--still can punch like a kangaroo! Sure, some people use it like its Vitamin C, but who cares? It is still just language and that can also be ignored. Does one mean to tell me that if we find a non-human specie to communicate with that it'll all come down to syntax over ideas.

When I first started to harvest my own malaise through drawing, my Christian friends would immediately proclaim: "You can't draw that!" and never explain why. Oh they tried but it all boiled down to "Because it's wrong" and subsequently pass their judgement on me; never taking into account who I was. Imus IS a mysogonist-bigot and it shouldn't have taken this comment to spark his final pyre. (By the way, has anyone ever listened to Tom Leykis? Don't get me started!) Maybe Dandy-Don Imus should just go into that mysterious HATE-rehab like everyone else of late.

Anyway, I cannot agree more with Miss Stephanie: where do we stop? We don't. We, like naturla selection itself, allow ALL ideas to swim, walk or fly from the primordial ooze and whatever is the strongest, will surely turn into a cat. [Read: a paragon].

Begging the author's pardon,
--J. Sheldon

“It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English -- up to fifty words used in correct context -- no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.” – Carl Sagan

Geoff Power said...