In Defense of Profanity

By Andrew Herold

As a child growing up in a Roman Catholic household, I was always told that profanity was wrong. When, as a smartass child, I enquired why, I was informed that it made you sound both stupid and ignorant. Upon receiving this unsatisfactory answer, I discovered two things with absolute certainty:

  1. That response was complete horseshit. I mean, picture your mother telling your father that the dog made a "poopy-doop" on the floor, and then imagine her telling him that the dog "took a shit." Or a dump. Whatever. Of the two, which sounds stupider?
  2. Profanity would factor largely in my future. At that point I didn't know how, but I knew that it would be there in some form. If I had the opportunity to go back and tell that innocent kid just how often I would engage the use of profanity, I would do it. I might also tell younger me that the world was coming to an end and to enjoy the few years he had left...younger me was far too trusting...Regardless, I tend to enjoy profanity in all of its wonderful forms, and I don't really understand why people take offense to it. In particular, there are three different forms of profanity that I feel deserve a little defense.

The first group is comprised of every variation of a "religious" swear word out there. But let's focus on Goddamn; Jesus Christ; and Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Usually it is so-called "decent" Christians who take offense to these, but they are the ones who should know the most how ridiculous that is. Let's take a look at Goddamn for a second. According to the Old Testament, God damned a great many things. Lots of things. TONS even. That whole Bible story of Noah's Ark was basically God saying "Well fuck the whole lot of you," and damning all things on earth to die a horrible death (leaving bloated, ugly corpses). The same is true of Sodom and Gomorrah...without the bloating. God apparently routinely engaged in this activity constantly before becoming new-agey and loving. So how can someone take offense to you saying Goddamn this/that/you? It's merely a suggestion to God. You're just giving him an idea of someone or something on which to perform an activity which he seemingly enjoys. You're doing your lord and savior a favor.

And what about Jesus Christ? It was the guy's name, was it not? Saying Jesus Christ is the equivalent of saying Ted Jones. Ted doesn't take offense. He might if you mistakingly called him Jesus (or Teddy), but not if you call him by his God given name. It's simply an appeal to Ted (or JC) to possibly intervene before you do something truly offensive. Either that, or it's like you started to ask Jesus something and just plum forgot what you were going to say next. And let's throw Jesus, Mary, and Joseph into the mix while we're at it. This is possibly the stupidest profane term imaginable. When you say this, you're basically telling a story about a family of three and forgetting the punch-line. If someone wants to be upset about it, they can be upset that you don't follow it up with "so they walked into a bar..."

The second group of profane words that deserve a fair trial are any words that provide an accurate description. I turn your attention to fucker, cocksucker, and cuntlicker. Odds are, unless you are very young or Mormon, you fall into one of these categories. And let's be honest here, if you are young or Mormon and someone is calling you one of these words, you probably deserve it. So why get upset? Why would someone act wounded when you call them a fucker? Here's the question you need to ask yourself here. Do you fuck? If yes, then quit your bitchin'. You are a fucker. Do you suck cock? Does licking cunt make you tingle in your special place? Then do it with some pride, for Christ sake. If someone calls you one of these words and it's true, then it's not an insult. It's an adjective. And hey, if you like cunt and they call you a cocksucker, chalk it up to merely a mistake on their part--they simply read the signs wrong. Wouldn't you want forgiveness if you ever made such a mistake?

And finally, there are those interesting words that started their little lives meaning something else. Submitted for your reading pleasure are bitch, fag, bastard, and pussy. And before you start raising hell (it's in the bible, folks), I write this as an out and proud gay man, so settle down, ok? Bitch, of course, is a word for a female dog, fag means to tire, bastard is a child born out of wedlock and pussy is a type of willow...or a cat. Now obviously there are new and improved meanings for these words, but up until a certain point in human existence (just when I don't know, my research was rather lax), these words were perfectly usable in everyday conversation. I'm not talking about over brews and beer nuts, either. I'm saying you run into the Queen of England and say "Sorry, Your Majesty, but I'm rather fagged. You see, my bastard bitch is chasing my pussy and I have to catch them!" It's all perfectly serviceable and above the board. If you take offense to these words, you're allowing some jack-off (descriptive) with an IQ half of yours to dictate the way you speak, and that's just a little too close to letting the terrorists win, wouldn't you say? As with any words, it all boils down to the personality of the prick using them. Offense, like respect, is something that shouldn't be automatically assigned and accepted--it should be earned. Words shouldn't be considered bad or taboo, but bigoted, mean-spirited assholes should. So the next time someone uses a profane word, follow these simple steps:

  1. Assess the situation. Is what the person calling you true?
  2. How is the word being used? Is it being used in jest, or is it intended to shock and offend?
  3. Once you have figured these things out, if the personality of the person is what is truly offensive, take a page from my book and punch the officious cocksucking motherfucker in the throat.