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Swearing is SPAM

Posted by LewaLew , in Work/School, BZPower Sep 21 2012 · 603 views

Continuing my rant about the issues with video games, I came upon a few secular reasons why no one should swear. Like, ever. Even around adults and teens.

Firstly, swearing is SPAM. SPAM, as we all know, are Stupid Pointless Annoying Messages. Many curse words have had perfectly decent meanings at some point, but no longer do since they've been transformed into swears. Others have meanings, but they also have 'clean' synonyms that work just as well. As Tillius described, they have no meaning. They are only meant to be offensive, and habitual or not, they are stupid, because they have no meaning. They are pointless because of the fact that they are stupid. A word without a meaning adds nothing to a sentence, unless you are trying to purposefully insult another person. (And there's no way that is ever right to do. I don't care how bad the service was, I'm just a grunt at a fast food restaurant, I don't need to have you spit swears in my face because you didn't get everything you wanted because you were talking on your phone instead of taking three seconds to check your screen. Sorry. Wanted to blow steam there a second. :P )

Anyhow, back to the subject. Because they have no meaning, swear words are stupid. Because they add nothing to the sentence, they are pointless, and thirdly, they are annoying because they are unnecessary.

Really, there are some movies that the only reason they get PG ratings is because of swear words. Now, granted, this is totally relative. What's annoying to me would not be annoying to someone who grew up around swearing. Nonetheless, these would be entertaining films that I could watch with my little sisters, and though they may get bored of it because they don't understand, the older of my younger sisters and brother would still enjoy it.

Another example is the one I used before. Arkham City is an amazing game in almost every way. (My personal favorite part was fighting Mr. Freeze in Story Plus, harder, yet less stressful since I didn't need to wait for the Batcomputer info to show up the second time around.) However, the swearing is the main part of the game that makes it annoying for me to go through. The thugs, in particular, can be funny without swearing ("It's not like he has a reputation for breaking out of traps and smashing people's faces. Oh, yeah, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE DOES!") but so often they do not. Look at this (probably not exact) quote:

What's next. Arkham County? Arkham Country? Big-%*&# Arkham World?

Granted, he's a thug. A goon, bad guy, punk, hood, crook, thief, murderer, etc. But somehow the DCAU managed to get away from swear words and still make a compelling story with thugs who were still goons, bad guys, punks, hoods, crooks, thieves, murderers, etc. Curse words are totally unnecessary, and therefore, to me and others of like mind, annoying.

I don't think I need to go into the last letter to finish my point. Curse words are SPAM.

But I have another reason besides SPAM that swearing ought to just be gotten rid of. It's juvenile. "Juvenile?" you might say, "But swearing is offensive to people because it's something only mature people ought to know anything about." But you heard right the first time.

'Mature' does not refer to the stuff you see in M-rated games. 'Mature' refers to a style of behavior. A mature person does not behave like a child. When in a disagreement over, say, the last slice of birthday cake, a juvenile will fight, shout, argue, push, and shove to get what he wants. In the same situation, a mature person would realize the unimportance of what's at stake, and offer it to the other person, or simply let them choose whether to take it or not.

Now, to explain why swearing is juvenile. BZPower's Comedies forum rules/guidelines (though I do not advise going to the comedies forum to find maturity. :P ) has a rule against the following

"Potty humor." Scatological stuff, like jokes about flatulence or defecation, are on the other end of the spectrum, namely that they're way too immature for BZPower. There are kids here, but let's not treat each other like fools. Respect!

"Yeah. So?" you say. Well, consider it. Why do mischievous kindergarteners think potty humor is funny. *crickets* Anyone?

It's because they know it's taboo, and disgusting. Toilet humor, and words involving what people do in the bathroom is a kindergartener's version of a swear word. And just because they're not "official" swears does not make them 'clean'. When one of your coworkers tells a dirty joke, sure, it may be something only adults would know about, but it's just as immature and tasteless as a little kid on the playground making some foul joke about what happened at potty time. And potty humor is also stupid, pointless, and annoying, even in its mildest form. (See the grand epic "Toilet Tahu" for what I mean)

My point is that under any situation, cursing is aggravating to others, and a sign of immaturity to those that use them.

EDIT: I would also describe it as disrespectful to whoever you are talking to. Going back to the Comedies Forum Standards:

There are kids here, but let's not treat each other like fools. Respect!

Because we are (mostly) all mature, we should be able to treat each other as adults who have a vocabulary that expands beyond four letters per word.

Especially when you go through the drive-through at Mickey D's.

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I completely agree with absolutely everything you said. Cussing is just getting annoying these days. It seems like it's the only thing people are capable of saying anymore. I mean, seriously, people are starting to use curse words not only as insults, but also as just regular every day words. When they get mad, like hurting there finger or something, they curse. And sometimes they just cuss for the fun of it. And maybe not just for the fun of it, but because they think it's cool.

To be honest, I think it's far from cool. It is not becoming at all to be cursing a bunch everywhere you go. Your analogy of the Kindergartener's "Toilet" humor is a great one. Kids think it's cool--funny--to use "Toilet" humor. But it's not; it's actually quite disgusting, in my opinion. Now, sure, when I was younger, those sort of things were funny, but as you get older, it grows to a whole other level. And, to be honest, it's just getting annoying. It seems that cursing has become so normal, that most Russians know nearly all the American curse words. Crazy, isn't it?

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There's actually a person at my work who was raised by English and Spanish-speaking parents, but only knows English. The Spanish she does know are the Spanish curse words her parents used, thinking she didn't know what they meant, but she could still figure it out.

And as a side note, emphasizing the meaninglessness of curse words:

Swears are ranked, by most people. M and R rated entertainment will have one tier, T and PG rated entertainment will have the other tier, and then there's the "Toilet humor" tier.

One particular item has a word describing it in each tier, yet people think one is better than the other simply because society has accepted it more than it has another. They all refer to the same disgusting thing, yet one is more acceptable because people have numbed to it faster.
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Language conveys many things. All words have meanings. When spoken, they have inflection. Purpose. Emotion.

Imagine this. It's 2008. The economy is broken right in half. A man comes home, laid off from his job. 20 dedicated years building houses. He gets a letter in the mail a week later that his loan to start his own company has been rejected. Another letter comes in the mail to say the bank is foreclosing his mortgage, and they are taking the house.

He talks to his friends, and they ask how he's doing.

And he swears. it is coarse. it is vulgar. And it is acceptable. He is angry. He is sad. He is in pain. He is unable to use PG-friendly vocabulary to accurately display just how much inner turmoil he is experiencing in the way them words do.

And in the case of your paragraph on "thugs, criminals, etc."; that language is crucial in establishing a subculture of people; compelling characters in a story. These people are tough because they talk tough. Joe Pesci, for example, is an astounding character actor because of the roles he plays. Because of the language he uses.

The issue here isn't the language itself. It's the usage. And this is true with most language right now. If you misuse the language, it loses or shifts meaning.

Should children swear? Of course not. They are incapable of understanding the meaning of the words and are unable to feel the emotions behind them [even though may teens will disagree with this because no one understands]. We've also pretty much agreed as a society that it is irresponsible to use the language around kids.

But harsh language is no less important to our culture than nouns or verbs. Just gotta know when it is acceptable.
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They are still unnecessary, even in those situations. Like I mentioned with the thugs in Arkham City, yeah, it shows that they are the vulgar criminals that they are, but the DCAU did the same without any of that.

I grow furious sometimes when someone is being utterly impolite and rude at work, but I have a reputation for never, ever, getting visibly or audibly angry with customers. Inwardly, I am ready to strangle them (figuratively). Anyone else in the store would be giving at least one curse or a foul gesture. But I don't, and neither does anyone in my family. Granted, it's never been a habit for me, but I can tell you I've felt like maybe saying something just once that was inappropriate. I found a different word, and it wasn't some placeholder like 'darn' or 'heck', and even then, kept it to myself as much as possible.

I don't buy anger as an excuse.
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The Present Automaton
Sep 21 2012 12:50 PM
Hmm, you raise an interesting point and I'll admit this is an issue I've been considering for a while, brought on by the trailers to a certain...unsavoury video game that's been receiving a fair amount of controversy as of late. But from what I've deduced, it really boils down to the main factor. Context. Why is the individual swearing? Is there a reason for it and if so is it justified? I think I'll use two examples to back up my point, the first being Dante, who I will refer to as Dante only twice for I consider the alternative derogatory title "Donte" to be far more appropriate, from the upcoming Ninja Theory title, DmC. My other example will be Kainé from NieR (Oh big surprise, Sechs is talking about NieR, everyone gather round and marvel at this spectacle, you may never see it again in your lifetime).

Now, I'll start with what I consider to be the offender. From all the previews, features and trailers we've seen so far, almost every character from DmC swears like a sailor. Donte, Mundus, Bill O'Reilly, the Slurm Queen. And there really is no need for it. It's so hideously implemented it comes across as forced, as though the writers had to add a few words in to reach the overall quota. Why they didn't choose "Screw Flanders" is beyond me, but in the end they stuck with what you referred to as the juvenile cursing, and I agree with you. It is juvenile.

Perhaps the worst part is why they included it. Donte is intended to be a "relatable" character, but also one the audience is meant to be in awe of. He's dark and edgy, basically. Hence the whole "raised in an orphanage run by demons" backstory and the "he has no respect for authority" stance. The sad thing is, he swears and raises his middle finger at anything that looks at him because the writers thought it was cool. But it's embarrassing, especially when this is meant to be an earlier version of the real Dante. Compare these two lines in which the protagonist from each game antagonises a random boss:

Cerberus: Leave now, mortal. The likes of you are forbidden in this land. You who are powerless are not worthy to set foot here!
Dante: Wow, I've never seen a talking mutt before. Y'know in a dog show, you'd definitely take first place.

The Slurm Queen: Who are you?
Donte: Your prom date you ugly sack of #@&!.

It's just completely uncalled for and reflects a complete lack of intelligence. At least Dante's taunts, while cheesy, were fitting for the enemy present. Donte's show no thought and could be applied anywhere. It's a real shame to see.

Now, on the other hand we have NieR, and yes maybe I am a little biased because I've stated on several occasions this is one of my favourite games. The particular character to be focused on is a lass going by the name of Kainé. Now, from the very offset, from the moment you put the disc into the console and start the whole thing up, the game treats you to a string of expletives from the foul mouthed character. But, though that may sound like the detestable Donte, I believe that Kainé genuinely has a reason for her attitude. Yeah, I'm gonna say a couple of spoilers but it's not like anyone was intending to play the game anyway. Basically, Kainé has a reason to be angry beyond the painfully clichéd "evil authority" background. As a hermaphroditic outcast, she's had plenty of time to boil in her own self-loathing. She lives on the outskirts of her home village, in which she is woefully unwelcome, and had to grow up with her kind and accepting grandmother. I'll skirt around what happened there, but basically she has a reason to hate, a reason to be angry and so she vents that frustration through blood lust and expletives. There's also the fact that she is the only character that swears, particularly to the despair of the resident braniac, Grimoire Weiss. It leads to some humorous contrast and the occasional great exchange of dialogue. What also should be considered is how she’s a subversion of traditional female JRPG characters. Stereotypically, the women in this genre are submissive, gentle folk who are independent but also kind faced and nurturing. Kainé is the complete opposite. She’s brutal, uncaring but at the same time reliable. She’s a parody of many other titles before NieR, which rings true with the game’s general style as a homage to many various popular video game titles.

Anyway, wow that was wordy. I have problems writing college essays yet I just managed to churn that out in half an hour. I rally need to get my priorities sorted. So yeah, that's just my opinion. While swearing generally points to low intelligence and a lack of thought, there are times when I'm willing to overlook it and allow it to carry on. When it's present for the sole purpose of trying to upscale the dark and gritty factor then it's definitely to be avoided.
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Sep 21 2012 12:56 PM

And potty humor is also stupid, pointless, and annoying, even in its mildest form. (See the grand epic "Toilet Tahu" for what I mean)

how dare you

"Toilet Paper Tahi" is the SECOND BEST THING EVER PUT INTO WORDS(first is the Secret Stomach Message). it is not stupid, pointless, or annoying in any form. it is art, and should LEARN HAW TO APPRECIATE IT YOUNG MAN WHO IS OLDER THAN ME

(sorry if this reply is to silly for this serious thread here, i just couldn't resist)
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I'm not trying to turn this whole thing into an ethical debate, but no body has brought up the question of whether or not cursing is right or wrong. If it's wrong, then it should never be okay to curse, whether or not someone is mad or needs to vent their feelings. If it's right, then there's no need to have this discussion. I think we all know that cursing is not ethically correct. In our culture, it has become normal, yes, but does that make it right? Just a simple question. I'm not going to get into deep philosophical, psychological, and ethical thoughts, but I thought I'd put it out there.

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Frankly, I understand when people who use it do use it, and I don't lecture them. (After all, I've got a blog for that) Nonetheless, that doesn't make it right, or any more mature.

However, my complaint is primarily against entertainment. A good script writer should be able to convey anger or banality without curse words. Is it more realistic? Sure. But a lot of video games are not meant to be realistic, including the Arkham games (which are my biggest annoyance.) Entertainment should be entertaining without inappropriate material.

EDIT: In reply to Reznas' second comment. I specifically avoided the issue of right and wrong in my entry because right and wrong has largely become either a religious issue, or an issue of what society feels (which is about as erratic as the weather)

I believe swearing is wrong for religious reasons. There are others who are not of my belief system, and therefore don't give a care. What's 'right' to you and I is 'wrong' to someone else out there, and vicey versey.

What I'm trying to do, you might say, is play on their home court. Give them their own reasons to change their minds, rather than give them mine. (although I think all of the reasons I gave were good ones.)
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Kevin Owens
Sep 21 2012 01:28 PM
I think that there is something that you should be aware of in that there is an unfortunate implication in what you're saying.

It primarily deals with people who express themselves with what you would deem 'vulgar' language. I'm specifically talking about that subculture of people who have grown up in an environment or culture in which swearing is a common, natural aspect of life. I'm not specifically pointing to poor urban folks that have been impacted and seek to replicate what might be termed "Thug Life" or whatever is currently being portrayed in popular Rap music, but it might very well include them.

What do you do with people where swearing just isn't a manner of expressing themselves but the manner of expressing themselves? It's what they've know for their entire life, and it's the only way they know to express themselves. Should they be reeducated in a way where they know how to express themselves without swearing? If you had the choice, would you make it so that they cannot express themselves in that way?

A dangerous prospect to be sure.

And what of those who choose to express themselves in that manner? What of those rap artists who express themselves in vulgar manner? What of their messages? Should they be discounted? If so, you run the risk of just writing off huge portions of culture as being stupid, pointless, and annoying.

Just something to consider.
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Yeah, I understand. I wasn't really trying to make it sound too religious. I guess the use of the world ethical kind of made it sound too religious. But the main point I wanted to address is the fact that everyone knows that cursing isn't right. Whether or not someone curses, they know that cursing is technically not right to do. It never has been. Now I'm sure there's some religious group out there who would try to debate this, but what I'm saying is that the human race, as a whole, knows that cursing isn't the right thing to do. Has it become okay? Yes, in our culture, it definitely has. But right is a whole different word than okay, and I think that is a big reason why cursing has become normal in our society.

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In lieu of the above new posts, I must profess that I firmly believe there is no such thing as "good" or "bad" language.

Language is fluid, ever-changing. Every word has the potential to be used in positive and negative light.
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Kevin Owens
Sep 21 2012 01:38 PM

But the main point I wanted to address is the fact that everyone knows that cursing isn't right.


Nobody will willingly do something they know is wrong. Nobody will willingly do something that they know will hurt themselves. It is illogical to do so, and man is a logical being. People swear because they think and know that it is okay. Otherwise they would not do so.
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In response to Comrade Gato:

"Self-expression" is something that I don't think justifies being vulgar. There's a small portion of people who think "expressing themselves" as far as clothing means running around naked. Yet (in most places) that is outlawed, for the sake of those who can only take so much expression in one day.

I work with a lot of vulgar people. They were raised that way, so I'm not surprised, but, like I said, there are plenty of alternatives for what they're saying that are clean. Just as clothes are required most everywhere for the sake of everybody else, swear words should be avoided out of common courtesy for other people, particularly when they are buying a product you manufacture, or something along those lines.

Culture will shift constantly. There are words that were curses once that no longer are, just as there are words that are curses now that once were not.

And honestly, I don't see why someone "expressing themselves" through curse words is any more appropriate then some kid online "expressing" a juvenile sense of humor through a toilet humor comedy.
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Kevin Owens
Sep 21 2012 01:47 PM

In response to Comrade Gato:

"Self-expression" is something that I don't think justifies being vulgar. There's a small portion of people who think "expressing themselves" as far as clothing means running around naked. Yet (in most places) that is outlawed, for the sake of those who can only take so much expression in one day.

I work with a lot of vulgar people. They were raised that way, so I'm not surprised, but, like I said, there are plenty of alternatives for what they're saying that are clean. Just as clothes are required most everywhere for the sake of everybody else, swear words should be avoided out of common courtesy for other people, particularly when they are buying a product you manufacture, or something along those lines.

Culture will shift constantly. There are words that were curses once that no longer are, just as there are words that are curses now that once were not.

And honestly, I don't see why someone "expressing themselves" through curse words is any more appropriate then some kid online "expressing" a juvenile sense of humor through a toilet humor comedy.

You have not addressed my point. At no one point did I bring up public forms of self expression which would some would consider vulgar. Public nudity is not on the same level as what you would consider vulgar language. At no point did I draw the point that because swearing is okay, a point I did not in fact make actually, that therefore toilet humor is okay.

Please reread my post.
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I think we all know that cursing is not ethically correct.

There is nothing ethically wrong with using swear words (also, in religious context, there is a difference between cursing and using "profanity". They are not the same thing.)

As Makaru said, these "cuss words" have a place and time, and are actually vitally important to our culture. Of course they have meaning! They convey the highest levels of whatever they're being used for. No, there aren't appropriate synonyms for these words. Because no other words express the emotion or the full extend of what swear words are used for.

Also, as someone who utilizes swear words pretty commonly, I find the idea that they are "juvenile" or "immature" or "uneducated" particularly insulting. The greatest works of English literature make great use of these words, and they always have a point and a purpose, even if that purpose is lost on others. I use these words because there is nothing wrong with them.

And if you're using a "substitute" word, congratulations, you're still swearing. You're using something in an attempt to mean the exact same thing in the exact same manner. If you speak out in anger at someone and you use a "substitute swear", congratulations, you're just as guilty as if you had "sworn". It's just as insulting. You're using it to mean the same thing.

Also, language evolves and changes and words that were taboo become acceptable and normal and new taboo words crop up. This is normal, and it happens everywhere and in every language.

Your entire argument entirely ignores the purpose of these words in our language. They are meant to convey something. They are the farthest possible thing from SPAM as language can possibly get. If we didn't have these words, we would just make up other ones to properly convey our meanings. And people would be up in arms over those words too, and it would still be a ridiculous and meaningless argument.

(Also, using actual swears versus substitutes actually releases more anger and tension and cools a person off better than substitutes. Science!)
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