Dagdha's Blog

Motherfucker

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on April 17, 2012

I don’t believe in swearing. The notion that certain words possess an innate moral quality seems utterly preposterous to me and indicative of cultural immaturity, not moral decrepitude. Profanity after all is largely a cultural phenomenon. Swearing in America, for instance, revolves around sexual motifs (fuck, shit, ass, dick, etc.), whereas England, which still has many of the same profanities as we do, also focuses more on religious iconography (bloody, for example, refers to Christ on the cross, but no one would blink twice at its utterance in Puritan America, ironically enough). Some cultures, like Japan, simply don’t have curse words, because they probably understand that words can only possess power that is given to them.

Let me be clear. I fully comprehend the power of language. It is how we literally define reality, history, thoughts, and memories. In fact, neuroscientists believe that most people cannot recall their early childhoods specifically because they did not possess the linguistic capacity to store memories. Words are powerful, but only as part of the context in which they are found. Like the name Voldemort from J.K. Rowling’s masterwork, swear words are powerful only because people think of them as such. Most of the time (at least in English, as I cannot claim fluency in any other language) curse words aren’t even used literally, but as emotional intensifiers.  So from my perspective, this silly aversion to swearing seems deeply rooted in a fear of free expression, which is the enemy of any established ideology.

The reigning ideology in America is Christianity (my running theme of late), which condemns sexuality as the most vile of sins, second only to murder. Seeing as our country was founded on genocide and we wouldn’t want to be hypocrites, it makes sense that our curse words are based on physical sexuality (compare the polite, abstract intercourse to the raw, physical fuck). And despite the ubiquitous visual depiction of sexuality in modern society, using a word that alludes to sexual activity is, quite ludicrously, more offensive.

Swearing is important. It adds color and emotion to language like few other words can, in a manner that is universally understood. Even if you do not speak a language, you can usually discern swear words by their emphasis and emotional delivery. Swearing relieves stress. Yelling “friggin gosh darn son of a mofo gun” at the top of your lungs just doesn’t provide the same relief as a simple “fuck.” And think of all the long distance relationships that would fail due to the lack of licentious language available to lonely couples. The dynamic nature of swearing is one the reasons it is so important.

And for those who would argue the cliche polemic that swearing is the sign of a poor vocabulary, I leave you with a brief video featuring Stephen Fry, who I consider to be one of the greatest wordsmiths alive today.

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