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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Cursing should not offend

    Darn. Fecal matter. Illegitimate child. Female dog. Heck. Buttocks. If all of these words do not offend you, but you call people out for using swear words, an apparent contradiction exists.
    In other words, stop. Stop preaching about your clean language. Stop judging people when they use particular words. Stop blindly following some incoherent and superstitious notion that some words are magically dirtier than others.
    Let me make something clear. I’m not saying you have to like these words. I’m not saying you must use them. I’m not saying we should say the same word 20 times in one paragraph for unneeded emphasis.
    Sit back and realize that we all have the right to use these words. Furthermore, realize that words are not always bad. By itself, “useless” isn’t a bad word. However, if you call your mother “useless” every time she does something nice for you, that would be wrong.
    Can you see the difference? Context is key. Basically, no group of words is 100 percent wrong all the time. Unfortunately, our backward ancestors have insisted otherwise. And we carry on the erroneous tradition of condemning people because of something that shouldn’t be offensive in every instance.
    Now, I’ve heard this argument many times: “If you’re an intelligent and decent person, you shouldn’t have to use these words.” Oh, really? So you’re the ultimate judge of decency. It’s a good thing you’re in this terrible world.
    No, seriously, that’s a fallacious and hypocritical argument.
    First, there are plenty of intelligent people who use profanity. Author Stephen King and comedian George Carlin come to mind. If you actually look and stop generalizing like a simpleton, you can find plenty of others who are highly intelligent who use so-called bad language.
    Second, decency is subjective. Some people think it’s decent to let women have abortions; some people don’t. You could use the old Bible argument, but that fails as well. Colossians 3:8 says, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” This is the verse many people will quote. Yet some who repeat the verse say words like “geez,” “butt” and “crap.” Obviously, the point becomes a contorted disaster, as wrong as Hilter was.
    But what if you don’t use those softer versions of profanity? Well, show me in the Bible where it lists all the bad words we’re not supposed to say. Really, how can a human with a finite mind know exactly what not to say in every situation? Context, as I said earlier. It’s never a group of no-no words.
    Finally, if I said bed four times in 10 seconds, no one would say, “Hey Jed, could you be a little more intelligent and decent? You can use other words, like cot and mattress.” However, if I said certain four-letter words in the same manner, I would be verbally castrated by conservative go-getters. In case this doesn’t make sense, here’s a clue: your argument doesn’t hold. Another point that will shed some light is a theory pushed by communication experts. Get online and go to http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/dt225196/si.htm. This easily understandable page explains George Herbert Mead’s theory of symbolic interactionism.
    Basically, the theory says that people take words and assign understood meanings to them after a certain amount of time. Simply, people took a word, they decided to give it a negative connotation and it is now a curse. We made the whole thing up.
    Undoubtedly this part of the theory has to be true since humankind invents language constantly. Most etymologists say the infamous “f” word came into being at least 500 years ago. We could have used it to mean “water.”
    However we didn’t, and it’s meaning continues to change and expand today. It can be used as a verb to mean a variety of things, yet they’re all deemed inappropriate. There is no reason for this, other than an instilled conscience we developed because of chastising teachers and parents.
    Moreover, during my intercultural communication class, my professor, Sid Hill, talked about how each culture has its own list of vulgarities. I could spout off a number of British profanities right now, and not many would be offended, even though they correlate with our words.
    Hill also brought up the first Austin Powers film that came to theaters. A part of the title read “The Spy Who Shagged Me.” “Shag” is the British word for the “f” word. Nobody made a big stir. Nobody protested. If people were offended, their outrage was either quiet or tacit.
    Above all, restricting or judging someone just because of the words they choose is elitist. In essence, you want people to talk just like you, which is not fair. We all talk differently; we all like different words.
    Predictably, someone will argue, “Well, since our culture has deemed the words inappropriate, shouldn’t we accept our standards of decency?”
    Absolutely not. This is your reasoning: “Someone said it was wrong, so it’s wrong, and I can’t say otherwise even if I can prove it.” What kind of logic is that? What if every revolutionary historical figure thought that way? Einstein wouldn’t have bothered with relativity, we would still enslave people because of skin color and Jesus wouldn’t have defied the Pharisees.
    So live in your fantasy world where words are bad because some imaginative and cunning men told you they were. Just stop dragging others into it.
    Your attitude makes everyone want to curse.

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    Cursing should not offend