Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Words of Curse: An article in The Washington Post lambasts kids these days for cursing too much. Apparently social values are in a freefall.

This is nothing new, of course. I remember the same criticism when I was a kid. And you know what, I still feel the same way I did then. Let the kids cuss. Society isn't getting fouler. Society is just setting a higher standard for what is considered foul. And hopefully this means future generations won't be so easily offended by certain words.

Cuss words are just synonyms of acceptable words (shit vs. excrement), only they convey strong emotions. You can say, "I am very, very, very angry." Or you can say, "I am tempestuously infuriated," and consult a thesaurus. Or you can say, "FUCK YOU!" As a writer, I prefer to use words economically.

When I was a kid, my friends and I cussed all the time. Every day was just like an episode of South Park. Sure, we really didn't know what some of the words meant, but we knew the intent behind the words.

But as a kid, I had to be careful where and when I cussed. Sometimes we'd be talking, and one of my friends would say, "Hey, don't cuss, there's an adult here." We didn't want to get in trouble.

Now that I'm an adult, I cuss all the time. Except I have to be careful, because sometimes I'll be talking and a friend will say, "Hey, don't cuss, there are kids here." It's time to stop hiding from each other.

Of course, you should be considerate about using strong language. If people don't like it, don't say it around them. It's just like not using the Lord's name in vain around a minister or making off-color jokes in front of someone who might be offended. It's called courtesy.

But eventually, it seems, society will become less anal-retentive about certain phrases. And who knows, when the stigma attached to cuss words disappears, kids will probably stop wanting to use them.


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