Rebirth of Reason


The "F" Word
by Fraser Stephen-Smith

The "f" word? You said the "f" word?
There are some aspects of common adult behaviour I just don’t understand. One such aspect is why a group of people involved in an amiable conversation would say “the 'f' word.” Not “fuck,” not “shit” nor “shit-bollocks-wank-widdle,” but “the 'f' word.”
Swearing itself is not the subject of this article. What I am interested in is how we approach the discussion about swearing. If you are talking or writing about swearing, like I am now, please use the word in question, rather than the phrase, “the 'f' word.” To use that phrase is the verbal equivalent of clearing your lawn of dog turds using two pairs of rubber gloves, a nostril clip, some pursed lips and a long pointy stick. If nothing else, when you run with the pointy stick, you’re likely to fall over and poke out an eye with it, and the shit on the end of the stick will provide a better environment for infectious bacteria ... actually, I think I may have lost my train of thought there. But don’t run with pointy, shitty sticks, okay?
There are times when it’s bad to swear, and there are times when it’s good to swear. The conversation about when it is right and wrong to swear is a boring one that most of us have already had at one time or another. I remember having it with my father when we were both sitting in a hospital waiting room; I had a mournful expression, and he had a nail through his hand. For the few of you who have not had this conversation, I should clarify that it’s not okay to swear when you have just quietly entered a room where a loved one is working. It is okay, however, to swear when a loved one that you didn’t know was in the room has just sworn while you were on top of a ladder constructing an interior wall with a nail gun.
There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t like it when people say ‘fuck,’” whereas I guarantee that you will sound absurd if you opine that “the use of the 'f' word on public airwaves is an affront to the sensibilities of the nation, and to family values, regardless of the hour.” When someone speaks that way, we all know what word they aren’t saying. They want us to know what word they aren’t saying—otherwise their message would be lost.
So why do people invent and use descriptions of swear words? It’s because they think that others will be offended by the use of the word, regardless of context. Why would anyone be offended by a word, regardless of context? If someone is offended by the phrase, “I don’t like it when people yell ‘fuck’ inappropriately,” then they are foolish. They are fools who adhere to a commandment, “Thou shall not swear,” without questioning the reasoning behind the commandment. These fools have allowed their behaviour to be governed, without question, by a word—they are subservient to a sound. There are many reasons to avoid swearing (the strain on familial relations caused by nail-based injuries is one good example), but subservience is not one of them.
There are enough people in the world who want to be in charge of my life without me becoming a slave to words. This kind of voluntary servitude reminds me of those people who purchase soft and comfortable furniture, and then cover it with rigid plastic sheeting. Rather than using the furniture for their own comfort, the individual who covers the furniture has become the furniture’s caretaker. The well-being of the furniture has become the highest value in the house. The absurdity of being in thrall to an inanimate object is amplified by the fact that the owners-turned-slaves chose to work in order to earn the money to buy the thing that they are in thrall to.
So don’t tiptoe around swear words, or we will all end up being ruled by three-piece lounge suites.
No one wants that.
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