Rant Against Profanity Overuse
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Before you read this rant, I would like to make clear that I am not arguing against profanity in its entirety. I am arguing against overusing profanity.
Look around yourself and you will see that insulting has become a staple of our culture. Go to a social networking site or listen to conversations in school; I am sure you will hear teasing in the latter and read outright flaming in the former.
I am also sure you will hear or read profanity.
Profane meanings were created with the sole intent of insulting others. Some words came into being as curses; others adopted insulting slang meanings that became widely used.
I have been around school-kids through sports and Boy Scouts. Almost every single other kid in the former would curse in every other sentence; in the latter, cursing is not as common, but it is still existent.
Why do these kids curse a lot? I believe it is a result of peer pressure. When in an environment different from ones you are used to, your instinct is to adapt. If said environment includes cursing, and to be heard you need to curse, you will likely begin to do so. (Note that this is not true for all school-kids; I know two in my Boy Scout troop who never curse at others.) I have experienced some teasing from school-kids who don’t understand why I don’t curse even away from my parents; this is an effect of school, of being away from your parents and not having to tell them of mistakes you made or sins you committed. If I had gone to school all my life, I would probably be the same.
I’ve heard a few arguments for cursing in the past; below, I will answer them as best I can:
1. Why should you follow your parents’ rules when they aren’t around?
This is a simple question to answer: They are your parents; they have more life experience than you have; they raised you to be polite, most likely, and so why should you not be?
2. Profanity isn’t taken as a great insult anymore; everyone does it.
“Gay” was created with the intent of meaning “happy”, yet now, it has been twisted to mean “homosexual”, and from there was made synonymous with “stupid”: an example of a word’s meaning changing due to the general populous using it differently and perhaps incorrectly. Why should a word’s meaning be changed? Why not create a new word? Now, there are some profane terms that have only adopted their insulting meanings through the evolution of the English language; if these terms could return to their original meanings, I would be a happy man / teen / whatchamacallit. But some terms were created with the sole intent of insulting, and they should only be used when necessary, no more.
3. You’ll encounter it a lot when you’re grown up, so you might as well get used to it now.
This is more related to cursing on websites. To this, I say that I already deal with cursing in real life; why should I have to read it from other teenagers over the internet? I can deal with it just fine, thank you.
4. Curse words and substitutes have the same meanings, so there’s no difference.
“Darn” and “heck” are sometimes used as blatant substitutes for curse words, true, but the fact is they do not have the exact same meanings -- if you “darn” someone, you stitch their clothing for them -- and thus are considered more polite. One instance in which I will concede the point is overuse. If I were to say “darn” every single time something happened that annoyed me just a little bit, even if that something were inconsequential, I would be annoying everyone around me, in which case I might as well curse so I don’t seem like I’m just substituting the words to seem more polite. The same problem occurs if I use a substitute to insult someone in the same fashion as the curse: The meaning will transfer.
Cursing is more acceptable when in moderation or in private. I feel that teenagers should abstain from using it a lot until they are mature enough to know how and when to use it. Some adults could use some lessons in moderation, as well.
Substituting a curse word with a more polite form does not completely erase the curse's meaning, especially if you use the “polite” form in the exact same fashion as a worse word. In general, you should not insult other people -- a rule of thumb for life that some people seem to have forgotten.
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If you have any other arguments, post them below and I will do my best to answer them here. I hope this will provoke some (polite!) discussion.