Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cussing and Swearing Once Again

Since today is Back to the Future I figured it's a timely day to get into my little blogging time machine and revisit a topic I've posted about before: swearing.

I hate swearing.  I hate hearing people swear. I hate when I swear myself (yep, sometimes it still happens) and I have wracked my brain for the last 21 years trying to pin down why it bothers me so much. Everyone that knows me, already knows all this.

Over the years I've had countless conversations with all sorts of people on both sides of the believer fence about this subject.  We've had the 

  • "out of the heart the mouth speaks" conversations
  • fresh water/bitter water/same well conversations
  • exploring why words are offensive, who makes them offensive (the speaker or the hearer) and why they are offensive
  • discussions about the psychological and emotional affect to both the speaker of the words and the hearer of the words (and why some even believe it's beneficial to swear)
And probably more conversations with other angles I can't even remember.  One of the things I've always found odd about such conversations is that some people go out of their way to justify why it's not only okay, but good.  To cuss or swear. I find that odd because one would think if it's good or beneficial there would be no reason to explain why.  Like brushing your teeth, or wearing a coat when it's cold.  It would be obvious and/or common sense to most adults why such things are done, without any explanation needed.

In any event, I observed something a few days ago on social media and then again today, that made me think about this again. What it all comes down to, in the most basic sense, is that the type of words used in cussing and swearing are *intentional words that sound hard and cutting.

All the hard consonants in these words (in the English language anyway) are spoken with the emphasis on those sounds, and in many cases with an intentional exaggerated pronunciation of those sounds.  So these words fly out of the out of the speaker's mouth like little razor blades, shards of broken glass, angry hornets, venomous snakes, jagged rocks and pointy sticks... and fly right into the hearer's ear.  And they hurt, and they're supposed to (that's why they're said the way they're said).  Even when what's being said isn't about you personally, what you're hearing said about (whatever) is designed to be hurtful, bitter, hateful and angry.  It's not as if you're "choosing" to assign offense to these words anymore than you'd be choosing to allow a razor blade to slice you if it made contact with your skin.  It's what the razor blade is designed to do.  Just like these words. (This is usually where the argument is made for "other words" that are equally as cutting, such as calling people stupid, ugly, useless and other such personally insulting things designed to hurt them.  I don't disagree that there are indeed other words designed to hurt, sting and bite.  There is no justification for using those words either.)  I just have absolutely no desire to be a part of a conversation where words like this are used.

I prefer a better conversation.  One where the person speaking digs a little deeper, thinks a little longer, and chooses more carefully the more constructive way to express him or herself. People who do that, take the time to adequately express their anger, disappointment, disgust or whatever it might be, almost always have a more optimistic, hopeful and problem-solving tone to their expression as well.  Such as: "so and so really made me angry today and I really wanted to tell him/her off but instead I did such and such and realized had I said this or that I would have probably regretted it."  These people are thinkers, They're honest about their anger or disappointment but they think about it before mouthing off about it.  The longer they think about it, the more scenarios they play over in their head and they tend to choose a better way. A more constructive way - and one that doesn't cause me to want to guard my ears when they're speaking.  In fact, I want to hear more of what they have to say.  These are also people that tend not to emotionally react to something, but keep their cool in most situations.  I like these people!  They're an awesome example for me because truth be told, I've always been a mouthing-off type of person.  Reacting emotionally and speaking before I think.  Ugh.  Not proud to admit that, but it's the way it is.

I know this is all very long-winded and such, and I don't really sit around and think about this at length (anymore).  It just occurred to me today when listening to something online where the speaker used the F bomb several times, how much more enjoyable what he had to say, would have been. Great points made on a political topic but F this and F that and I got sick of listening. 

When razor blades grow fangs and stingers and attack your ears, it's time to move on.

*Except when those certain folks just start using cuss words in place of everyday words in everyday conversations.  I'm not even sure what to make of that mindset.  They're not trying to sound mean or cruel, they're just using f%*# in place of anything and everything.  It's a little disconcerting.  Like those folks that wear pajama pants everywhere, or start putting ketchup on everything. There are no more boundaries or contextual usage/application.  It's like they've just given up on intelligent conversation once and for all.