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Rant Against Profanity Overuse

Posted by Legolover-361 , in Real Life, Writing Dec 06 2011 · 266 views

'Tis about time I posted a rant. :P

* * * * *

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.

My conclusion:

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.


* * *

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.

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Squishyfrog
Dec 06 2011 01:57 PM
These are some reasons I don't curse/swear, in real life or on the internet. I usually swap out swear words with silly words from cartoons or something.

also
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Very good, I can definitely share the same belief on most, if not all of what you wrote.

In my opinion, profanity, while not in of itself a sin is most certainly an occasion of sin.

Now, when you raised the point about gay, you exhibited in your article a similar example of word misuse. Swearing, cursing, and profanity are totally different. Cursing and profanity often intermingle, for example, telling someone to go to heck is a curse, and a profanity if what heck is a substitute for is used.

Often, they are both slung in under swearing. However, swearing is a form of taking an oath, and as such is different.

Interesting how the meanings of many words change so much. Propaganda, queer, and many others have also been victimized. :(
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1. I totally agree. I know that my brother's had met with a friend with there's over Xbox Live, and he was being perfectly polite when his parents were around. Right when they left, he started cursing. These kids should think that their parents are always around, regardless if they're not. It just be courtesy to reframe from using language with or without their parents/guardians are around.

2. It is sad to see that. Of course, it isn't necessarily a bad word in that sense, either, but people use it in an insulting way. They set a boundary between those type of people and themselves. Although this isn't a great analogy, it is similar to the treatment of blacks a long time ago. There isn't that much of a difference. But usually these words that have become insulting were created mostly by teens, not adults.

3. Exactly. I know cursing a lot, of course I don't use it myself because I thought it was a general rule not to unless you were a certain age. Lots of things you can only do at a certain age - with teens nowadays, they think there are no limits to what they can say on the Internet, like parents can't see them say those things.

4. Now, I do use substitutes, but not all the time. Like, I'll say 'shoot' and 'darn' and 'heck', but it's not like I'd say the actual curse word for it if I were allowed to, only because I choose not to and I prefer the other way. It's more polite to say 'heck', 'shoot', etc..

Still, good rant. I agree with most of you're points, to be honest. =)
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Legolover-361
Dec 06 2011 03:27 PM
I'm still awaiting the harsh criticism I know is to come. :P Thanks for your comments thus far.

2. It is sad to see that. Of course, it isn't necessarily a bad word in that sense, either, but people use it in an insulting way. They set a boundary between those type of people and themselves. Although this isn't a great analogy, it is similar to the treatment of blacks a long time ago. There isn't that much of a difference. But usually these words that have become insulting were created mostly by teens, not adults.


I've heard that analogy before, and frankly I disagree strongly with it. On one hand you have people who are shunned because of appearance; on the other hand you have people with different mentalities. Naturally I'm against discrimination of most sorts, but otherwise I don't see the connection.
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Wow... I actually like this. If I had a blog approval, you'd get it.
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“Gay” was created with the intent of meaning “happy”, yet now, it has been twisted to mean “homosexual" [...]


Is "twisted" really the wisest choice of a word to use here? It implies that there's something wrong with homosexuality, and even if you do actually believe that, it's still a harsh way of putting it. On BZPower you're supposed to be tolerant of things regardless of your beliefs, and implying (albeit indirectly) that anything about homosexuality is "twisted" is most certainly not showing tolerance.

Now, if you had said "changed" instead of "twisted", perhaps instead using the latter term to describe how the word is now used to mean "stupid", I can't say there'd be a problem.
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Boogie Monsta
Dec 06 2011 05:29 PM
Just something I had to say about your conclusion, the way that most adults know when to and when not to use profanity is because they did the exact same thing as teenagers do now. They used it every other word, and by doing that they realize what places it's acceptable (the locker room, when you're in pain, when you're with people who do it too) and when it's not (just doing regular things in public, talking to younger people, etc.). They know because they tried it and discovered the rules.

Now, your opinion seems to be "People know the rules, so you should follow them." Technically, yes, that's true. The world would be a better place if everyone just followed the rules everyone knows. HOWEVER. Not very many people can learn like that. Personally, I really dislike rules if I don't understand them. Sure, I could do it just because it makes people happy, but I'll learn a lot more from blowing the rules out of the water and discovering why they were there in the first place.

From all the people I've met in my lifetime, almost all of them think the same way. I've told my dad right-out, "I have no doubt that you're right, but I'm going to do the dumb thing anyway because I want to and when it turns out you're right, I'll learn from it and not do it again." And every time, he totally understands because that's exactly what he would've done. Honestly, not many people in life know what the
[Don't bypass the word filter. -Shine] is going on, and the only way to learn is to screw up. If you try to limit their screwing up, they'll never learn.
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Legolover-361
Dec 06 2011 05:57 PM

“Gay” was created with the intent of meaning “happy”, yet now, it has been twisted to mean “homosexual" [...]

Is "twisted" really the wisest choice of a word to use here? It implies that there's something wrong with homosexuality, and even if you do actually believe that, it's still a harsh way of putting it. On BZPower you're supposed to be tolerant of things regardless of your beliefs, and implying (albeit indirectly) that anything about homosexuality is "twisted" is most certainly not showing tolerance.

Now, if you had said "changed" instead of "twisted", perhaps instead using the latter term to describe how the word is now used to mean "stupid", I can't say there'd be a problem.


Regardless of my personal opinions, using "twisted" was not a slam against homosexuality -- it was aimed against the people who changed an innocent word to define a controversial subject.

While I did not mean to go against homosexuality, even if I did, I would still be tolerant of homosexuals, which ought to fall under BZPower's tolerance policy. Why? Because while I may disagree with homosexuality, I don't hate the people who do agree with or exhibit it.

Psychosy (I'm not including your comment here for convenience): Believe me, I see exactly what you mean. I'll often play devil's advocate to my parents because I don't agree with a certain rule or order (to the point of irking them sometimes :lol:).

However, I won't go outside my home and openly disobey rules I can't disprove. Why should I? In some cases, yes, doing the wrong thing can lead to a better understanding of the rules; however, that applies more to trial-and-error cases, like playing baseball or writing stories, where you really need experience to be good. In the case of cursing, well, what is there to understand apart from the fact that you should refrain from using them?

You're eighteen, though, so naturally your parents' rules don't necessarily apply to you. My rant was directed more against overuse of cursing by teenagers, not by legal adults, because while teenagers still live under their parents' roof and abide by their rules, adults don't need to.
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Boogie Monsta
Dec 06 2011 06:13 PM
Someone just called me an adult ;-;

But see, just with your third sentence you've explained it. "However, I won't go outside my home and openly disobey rules I can't disprove."

There aren't very many people like you. Idk if your parents were just nice and you genuinely like them, or you've been sheltered, or maybe you live in a town where everybody's just like that. I've heard legends of those. But most people aren't. Most people get to an age where they purposefully go against everything their parents say, and without fail that's around 14-16 (which is exactly where you are).

As you get older, usually around second half of Junior year of high school, you start to notice the people who swear all the time everywhere getting less. There'll still be the one or two, and those people will probably grow up to like NASCAR and/or rap music, but they'll be the exception, not the rule. They all start to realize that you can't curse all the time everywhere, because they did and found out when and why it's unacceptable. Telling them not to is like telling a squirrel not to store nuts, or Apple to make customizable computers. It's just never going to happen.

So yeah, I can tell you from my apparently-adult perspective, it won't last very long, but during that time it's best to just
*puts on sunglasses*
Deal with it.
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Legolover-361
Dec 06 2011 06:51 PM
I think a big part of my opinion is that I've been homeschooled since Preschool; while I've been around kids since T-ball age, and I first heard curses at about ten years old, I haven't had to deal with it every day. The other factors would be my parents, as you mentioned; my younger brothers, as I wouldn't want to curse in front of them; and the fact that rebellion would do nothing except get me grounded.
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Boogie Monsta
Dec 06 2011 07:00 PM
That'd be it. When you go to school-school, you can be whoever you want and your parents won't know most of it. Cursing's such a normal thing that by the third week you're pretty much used to it forever, even if you decide not to do it.
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I'm still awaiting the harsh criticism I know is to come. :P Thanks for your comments thus far.

2. It is sad to see that. Of course, it isn't necessarily a bad word in that sense, either, but people use it in an insulting way. They set a boundary between those type of people and themselves. Although this isn't a great analogy, it is similar to the treatment of blacks a long time ago. There isn't that much of a difference. But usually these words that have become insulting were created mostly by teens, not adults.

I've heard that analogy before, and frankly I disagree strongly with it. On one hand you have people who are shunned because of appearance; on the other hand you have people with different mentalities. Naturally I'm against discrimination of most sorts, but otherwise I don't see the connection.


Well, it's because that they were treated as outcasts, like they were different. They were no different than anybody else, but some didn't really see that. =/
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if you “darn” someone, you stitch their clothing for them

Only when used in that context. This essay is annoying to someone who used to study english and language, because you're ignoring what might be the most important part of the English language: it's flexible. "Darn" used in it's original meaning might mean stitching clothing, when used as an exlamatory remark, it means something entirely different, and is entirely analogous with the word it is substituting, and in effect, means the exact same thing. That's why I don't think there's any difference between substitutes and "cuss words". They aren't more polite, they aren't less obscene, they mean the exact same thing, and you mean the exact same thing when you use them as an exlamation or in place of a cuss word. You might as well use the real word, because you already mean the same thing, and the far more important thing to deal with is why you're using the word, not which word you're using.

I'd much rather hang out with people who are honest and say what they mean instead of trying to "be polite" and come across as just hypocritical or holier-than-thou when they use dumb substitutes that mean the exact same thing in that context. It's ridiculous, and it's dishonest. And I'd rather hang out with those people than with the ones who "don't swear" but think there's nothing wrong with using "clean" words to insult. The truly profane words are the ones we use when we're purposefully insulting others, whether it's "dumb" or a cuss word. (I'm not saying anyone here is like that, but as someone who used to make the same arguments, and said the same substitutes, for the same reasons, these are the things I've learned).
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Legolover-361
Dec 06 2011 10:14 PM
I don't know where my comment went. :confused:

In essence, I said DeeVee made an excellent point about the insulting, said I wasn't a big fan of slang as it creates both good additions to English and bad additions, and said I'd edited my conclusion to the rant. I don't believe my rant is techniaclly an essay, seeing as it isn't in the right format...
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I think it also is part of the parents fault. I have a friend, and his mom and dad don't care what he does or says. He drops f words all the time, in front of them.

Now if I did that, my parents would beat me. :P
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Legolover-361
Dec 06 2011 10:55 PM

I think it also is part of the parents fault. I have a friend, and his mom and dad don't care what he does or says. He drops f words all the time, in front of them.

Now if I did that, my parents would beat me. :P


Forget beating. My parents would know how to really keep me from cursing anymore -- they would take away my laptop and internet privileges, cut me off from the outside world, and leave me sobbing in my home-turned-prison. :lol:
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Lime Paradox
Dec 06 2011 11:33 PM
I don't really swear much myself, but I also don't exactly have a problem with it. If someone is clearly not trying to use a word in an offensive way, you kind of have to go out of your way to be offended by it, and I don't really get the point of that. And if someone is trying to be offensive, I don't really think their choice of words is the problem.
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Uncle Chael P. Sonnen
Dec 06 2011 11:41 PM

if you “darn” someone, you stitch their clothing for them

Only when used in that context. This essay is annoying to someone who used to study english and language, because you're ignoring what might be the most important part of the English language: it's flexible. "Darn" used in it's original meaning might mean stitching clothing, when used as an exlamatory remark, it means something entirely different, and is entirely analogous with the word it is substituting, and in effect, means the exact same thing. That's why I don't think there's any difference between substitutes and "cuss words". They aren't more polite, they aren't less obscene, they mean the exact same thing, and you mean the exact same thing when you use them as an exlamation or in place of a cuss word. You might as well use the real word, because you already mean the same thing, and the far more important thing to deal with is why you're using the word, not which word you're using.I'd much rather hang out with people who are honest and say what they mean instead of trying to "be polite" and come across as just hypocritical or holier-than-thou when they use dumb substitutes that mean the exact same thing in that context. It's ridiculous, and it's dishonest. And I'd rather hang out with those people than with the ones who "don't swear" but think there's nothing wrong with using "clean" words to insult. The truly profane words are the ones we use when we're purposefully insulting others, whether it's "dumb" or a cuss word. (I'm not saying anyone here is like that, but as someone who used to make the same arguments, and said the same substitutes, for the same reasons, these are the things I've learned).


Hey LL, where've we seen that argument before?

*nudge*

=P
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Legolover-361
Dec 07 2011 05:32 AM
I got the argument for profanity in 2. from you. :lol:
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[12:50:46 PM | Edited 12:51:19 PM] Legolover-361: "I deliberately misspelled my name on those forms!"
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4:39:40 PM onarax I doubt it, as I doubt any being could learn how to control such circuts with such a precise speed and size, plus not all computers have the same circuts so it'd be even more complicated.
4:44:44 PM Will ...then again, Makuta aren't real. Technically they could do whatever they wanted. xD
4:45:28 PM onarax They're antidermis aren't they, why not just possess the thing.
4:45:58 PM Legolover-361 "AHAHAHA, I, MAKUTA TERIDAX, HAVE POSSESSED THIS LAPTOP--"
4:46:02 PM Legolover-361 *blue screen of death*
4:46:07 PM Will They also have Rahi/Insect Control abilites, which is basically controlling robotic brains.
4:46:19 PM Will (and lolz)
4:46:21 PM Legolover-361 *you are seeing this screen because your computer had to be shut down...*

10:10:33 PM onarax Quick what's 3+3?
10:10:38 PM Zarayna hmm
10:10:39 PM Legolover-361 122!
10:11:05 PM onarax Congratulation to LL, he wins the grand prize of 1 Million Dollars, now if only we could count it out for him.

[7/4/2012 10:51:34 PM] Tyler: I just tried to figure out the radius of a triangle. ._.
[7/4/2012 10:52:37 PM] Legolover-361: ...Did you succeed in finding the radius of a triangle? I'm curious.

Kal Grochi takes a large amount of Nick's blood in order to start brewing with.
Zarayna takes his blood back
[10:26:45 PM] Kal Grochi Hey!!
[10:26:52 PM] Aderia ELY STOP TAKING NICK'S BLOOD HE NEEDS THAT

Quoteworthy Non-Internet Quotes

"All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade -- make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your darn lemons, what am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I'm going to to get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"

"Only two things are infinite: the universe, and human stupidity. And I'm not so sure about the former."

"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."