On Language

I was thinking today about the post I’d made in haste last month, where I mentioned briefly I was ok with swearing. The comments to that revealed I really needed to do a follow-up where I explained what I meant.

Here is that follow-up

I’ll examine the are different kinds of swearing and what I’m ok with and what I’m not.

Four-letter words

They’re pretty much all just scatological or sexual. Suppose I was to call someone ‘fucking worthless’. I feel the ‘worthless’ should be worse than ‘fuck’. These don’t have power - they don’t push people down, they just trivialise toilets and sex. ‘Fuck’ is a fairly powerful intensifier. Though give it a few years and it’ll be powerless, like ‘crap’ or ‘ass’ are heading towards.

Cursing

e.g. GDIAF (That’s ‘Go Die In A Fire’ - for the non-internet citizenry), wishing prison rape on prisoners
This is awful. I don’t want to ever have the dehumanizing attitude that leads to this. I don’t want to even joke about wishing death or rape on people. Regardless of how horrible they’ve been, even if they have literally killed and raped - they still don’t deserve death or rape (now we’re heading away from just language and toward my beliefs about sin, forgiveness, retribution, response, that’s maybe another post)

Referring to traits negatively, or assuming they’re negative and using them as insults

e.g. Nigger, Gay, Retard, Bastard, Whore, Fat…
All of these are frequently used to push someone down. Whether the label rightly applies or not to the person (or thing!?) it’s directed at, it’s damaging to those who belong to it and to those it’s directed at.

Blasphemy

e.g. Oh my God.
It trivialises and shrinks the majestic in minds” is what I wrote in the last post. This has been emphasised even more during my time so far at SMS. I want my use of ‘Oh my God’ or ‘Jesus’ to be sincere, to know who I’m talking to or about, to not use words of praise lightly. ‘Holy’, ‘Hallelujah’, or even jokes about prayer, the bible, or specific scriptures.

“Billions of blue blistering barnacles”

The swearing of Captain Haddock of Hergé’s Tintin is the ideal form. It’s inoffensive, entertaining, and disarming, while properly conveying the intensity of emotion. It’s also printable anywhere in the world and requires more creativity than just swearing.


A lot of this makes it look like I have no sense of humour - it’s just a joke, lighten up, I don’t really mean it… But I don’t want my words to hurt people, to cause me to see others as less than me, or to shrink or distract or confuse my and others understanding of God. There are plenty of room for jokes in the absurd and wordplay - you don’t have to shrink God, others and yourself to get a laugh.

I want to watch my words and what they will do - not just avoid saying a set of words because they’re wrong or be ok with saying another set of things because they’re not ‘bad words’.