Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cursing, Swearing, using Bad Words, NO BIG DEAL! REALY!

Cursing, Swearing, using Bad words, no big deal! Really!

I have always held that there are no such things as bad words. As such, I will use many of them in this post. If you get offended by such words, then please, stay, because this is for you. I will address the use of swear words in as many forms as I can remember and show why they are no big deal.

There are three ways in which swears words are considered bad.

1. Words are socially unacceptable
2. Words are hijacked from original meanings to mean something deragatory
3. And most commonly, they are "bad" words because of ones faith or religion

All three purposes are simply not valid and I will show why. And for number three, I will show why it is not valid to say one particular word is bad, biblically. Oh yes, I can argue from the bible as well.

1. Some words are bad because they are socially acceptable.

I have to admit, this is possibly the worst argument I have ever heard. When I was a christian, I still had a major problem with this. Why? Because words have meaning, and meaning is what is important, no particular word. If I were to call you a mother fucker, you would likely be highly offended. But what if I said "you enjoy intimate relations with your mom"? Now, you would likely think about it for a moment then be upset, but it doesn't have the same power as "mother fucker" because you believe that some how "mother fucker" is a bad word.

If I say "fuck you", you will inherently get more upset than if I were to say "screw you" or "violate you" or "do you in the rear". The last two are likely to illicit a law instead of anger. But why? They mean the same thing, and have the same linguistic value as "fuck you" does. When you give words more power based on the sound it makes coming out of someones mouth, you denigrad the meaning and value of words by making one word better or worse than another. You wouldn't the term "they" is better than "them" would you? They mean virtually the same thing. We should apply the same logic to all words. Instead of specific sounds being offensive, we need to look at the meaning of a word. I assure you I can say much more offensive things without the so called "bad words". There is nothing more ridiculous than completely insulting someone without one cuss word then having them get upset at "fuck you". We get upset at these particular words and not others because we UNDERSTAND what they mean. Other language is often not fully understood and doesn't convey the feelings to people any more, like cuss words do.

Thus, in society, we decided that, since we don't like these feelings being conveyed, that we can demonize the words that convey them. Whats worse, words in a society, and in meaning, change over time. If you went back 200 years ago and told King George "Fuck You" he wouldn't have the slightest idea what you were talking about. Phrases that have to universal meaning cannot be held as bad. In 100 years, we won't know what the phrase means either. So what you are doing is picking one set of words that convey a specific meaning in any given society time table, and deciding they are bad. That simply is not acceptable. Meaning is important. Meaning and the feelings conveyed are more important than the actual words used. Which leads me to point number 2.

2. Some words are bad even though they have valid definitions of use.

Bitch, bastard, ass hole. All these types of words have valid meanings associated with them. A bitch is a female dog. A bastard is a son born whose father is not known, and ass is an animal. But they have been hijacked, once again, for the feelings they convey, and by consequence, making them "bad words". Not long ago, I did a random test on some people I knew. I didn't tell them at first, but I did after words. I told one of the women she was a bitch. She immediately got upset at me. Didn't slap me, but she wanted to. I told another woman separately that she was acting like a female dog. She laughed and said she supposed she was. (she happens to be one that thinks swearing is wrong). I did the same with some male co-workers with "bastard". The one called bastard felt hurt and got upset, the one who I used the definition on, said he had no father, didn't even blink. And finally, I called one of my friends an ass hole in anger, and the other a butt hole in anger. You guessed it, the one who I called butt hole just apologize (he didn't need to, I set him up) and the one I called ass hole immediately got defensive and angry.

Words have meaning. That meaning is why we get upset. But in place of discerning what someone is saying, we have put in a set of words that are considered "bad words" so that we know what feelings are being conveyed and know when to properly get upset or offended. The problem is that now the words themself are offensive separate from their meanings. If I call you a donkeys butt, or a butt hole, or an ass hole, all three should illicit the same response, but that simply doesn't happen. The demonizing of specific words has, in a way dumbed down our society. Or perhaps, it is just a symtom of that dumbing down. Either way, in the case of these type of words, they cannot be bad words because they are still valid in use of very real things. If I say bitch, why should that get someone more angry than a female dog? They are the same thing, and bitch is still used in dog shows and by dog trainers today. Another word, hell, is sometimes demonize, like when someone says "what the hell" or "go to hell". How can a word be a "bad word" when that word is in the bible? The bible is the most widely read book among those of faith in our country today. Yet most who read it would list "hell" as a bad word. That doesn't even make sense. It is the feelings conveyed, the idea conveyed, that should be what gets to people, not specific words, and especially not words that have actual common uses.

3. Swear words are bad because the bible says so.

Now, this one is one of my favorites because it is simply a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge that causes this belief. Now, I could go into the myriad of ways in which "using gods name in vain" is specifically bad in the bible. I could go on about how "in vain" doesn't mean the same thing it does now, and that "in vain" is not as good a translation as "in a falsehood" according to the direct hebrew translation bible. This would mean that swearing in gods name, that is, making an oath in gods name, is what it is prohibiting. But thats not nearly as relevant. Why? Because, GOD is a generic term not used in the bible. God and Lord are not the names of God. In the Old Testament, God is given the name El half of the time, and Yahweh the other half of the time. Those of the Yahweh persuasion deemed his name so holy that it couldn't be written or spoken. Thus, in the original OT text, YHWH is written, not Yahweh. These are the names of god, and those are what you should not say in falsehood. God damn it, could mean any god or gods. God is a generic term used for any and every other deity. In english, we capitalize the word to mean THE god, by which we mean the christian god. This capitalization in no way indicates that this is the name of god. It is ignorant to say so! Thus god damn it cannot be taking "the name of the lord your god in vain" because you aren't using "the name of the lord your god in vain".

Moving to the new testament, christians like to quote Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.".
Now, to many, this means, no swearing. However, we have already discussed the problem with that. I can say something so foul and insulting that you should be left embarassed with out ever saying a "swear" word. So, is it okay to say something nasty as long as I don't swear? I have met many christians who seem to think so. They never swear but they sure say some mean things about people and too them. Surely you can't think that the christian god is so lame and shallow as to think that only words deemed socially bad are things you can't say? No, that is a ridiculous premise. And until christians stop saying bad things about people in a nice or non-swear word laden way, they cannot claim this scripture for anything, especially swear words. The simple reality about this is this. If I say you are the best damn piano player in the whole fuckin world, that is a nice thing I just said about you. Nothing unwholesome was said of you. Yet if you are a christian, you are likely going to be offended. But I clearly didn't violate any religious principles in the bible. What I violated was your self installed, socially generated sense of what particular words are acceptable. And that is not enough to decide that one particular word, rather than what the words mean, is bad or offensive.


In the conclusion I want to address one further complaint about swearing. It is usually given by people who consider them selves intellectuals or intelligent. They like to say swear words are only used by those who aren't smart enough to articulate their feelings. That intelligent people don't need to use swear words. Well, I call them like I see them. And that is bull shit. As long as society views specific words as "bad" then they will continue to have a bigger impact on people than spelling out the actually feeling or action you wish to convey. If I say "I am very angry and am not going to do what you say no matter what you tell me so just leave me alone" it doesn't have the power that "kiss my ass!" does. As well, it shortens the discourse considerably when using swear words to convey feelings either in anger or in jest. Simply using one word over another, as long as it is in proper usage, does not make on inferior or less intelligent. Fact is, if I don't use swear words, many people simply don't understand what I just said. So in some ways, it is easier to communicate with people using swear words.

If we want to advance in our society, we must learn to get past such pettying labeling as "bad words". Words are just words. What I am MEANING is much more important than the actual words used. Words are a tool that, in and of themselves, cannot be inherently bad or good, they simply are. They are there to use when we need them to convey actions, requests, feelings, desires, pain, pleasure and so much more. The sooner we learn thes, the sooner we can move on to actually discussing issues that really matter, and give a big FUCK YOU to people whose only recourse in a discussion is to demonize the actual words you use, in place of real discussion.