Thursday, November 25, 2010

The undesirable practice of cursing, swearing, etc.

I avoid cursing and swearing and even in anger generally don't swear or curse. It becomes a bad habit in people. I certainly don't see it as acceptable in writing, unless you were writing about cursing, writing about some one's cursing, or writing about language. A novelist can use these words as part of realistic dialog. A realist novelist of the 21st century could hardly avoid it.

I also don't find cursing or swearing or obscenities or blasphemies acceptable by using asterisks or acronyms. I find this so so stupid and idiotic. You either are expressing the concept or not.

I am going to use the term "swear" as a catch all for swearing, use of obscenitites, cursing, and blasphemies.

Recently I found a reputable Civil War blogger having used an obscenity in one of his posts.

Not a single commentator pointed out the obscenity or critcized it. I was surprised at both the obscenity and the lack of criticism of it.

I subsequently realized this morning that one of the benefits of researching neo-Confederates on the internet is that generally they don't swear.

So I am going to explain why swearing is bad. Some this argument are some things taught to me by teachers, but some I think you will recognize as uniquely my own. I give these four reasons.

1. It has no affect. Especially in contemporary society, where swearing is so common it has no effect. It used to be insulting in that in using such terms against a person was seen as insulting to that person's class. However, now, swearing is just tuned out. After the first term is uttered, the brain just thinks, "take note, person upset with me," and nothing more. After that point swearing is just adding hot air to the room.

Swearing doesn't add a sense of exclamation to your expression.

However, an insult without swearing, will engage the attention of the person to whom it is directed. It will be more deadly in effect, if you think exactly what you wish to criticize and conceive your insult to express that. I would also always call attention to a person's swearing if being sworn at with some expression like, "What a gutter mouth!" They may not react in your presence to what you said, but they will think of it, when they swear.

Some insults can have interesting delayed impacts. Sometimes I say to an obnoxious person, "I hope your children grow up just like you." I say this clearly in the context of my hoping something bad happens to them. They are puzzled, they have to assemble the insult in their minds, and then they realize what the insult is, and they had to think through the insult, and thereby hear it, and remember it. Sometimes they are stunned.

My favorite rejoinder to the expression, "I will never speak (or whatever) to you (or here) again," is "Promises, Promises."

However, have your comment speak to the issue at hand and perhaps a little personal insult thrown in. The vulgar person might bay "bull shit," but I would say, "Your argument, like yourself, totally lacks logic and reason." "Nonsense" or "Nonsensesical" isn't bad, but doesn't sting, but keeps you from saying stupid things like "bs." "Stuff and nonsense" is an old classic. What someone is saying might be a sham, or a rationalization, or a pretense. An insulting remark that speaks to the issue is powerful. You might say, "This is just a rationalization which I don't find surprising coming from you."

When you stop swearing you insults will tend to be more deadly and you should consider when using them. You might want to just say, as a modification of one the above insults, "Your rationalizations tire me." You are still saying what he is saying is a rationalization, and that it isn't surprising coming from him, but further it is a continuing practice such that you are tired by it. You establish that you are the injured party and your insult is now a plea, lessening anger, but still really an insult.

In the case where swearing isn't for insults, but for an expressions of exclamation, it isn't necessary also. You can say, "I am flabbergasted," or "Jumping Jupiters" or "OMG" or "what in the world." There are a lot of fun expressions to do this.

2. It is aethetically unpleasing. Think of swearing as defecating through your mouth. Sorry for this foul image, but I wish to make this point forcefully. It is also accurate.

3. It is intellectually lazy and represents intellectual laziness or it means you are so upset you have lost control of your thoughts. Swearing can imply that it doesn't take much to get you to lose control of your thoughts, since you are shallow, when the provocation isn't much.

4. It can represent a limited range of being able to express yourself.

Finally, there are some who think swearing makes them more authentic, or more of the people, or something like that. It is insulting to everyday people. It is slumming. It is an affectation.

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