IT SEEMS TO ME….Forbidden words



I have always been amused by the many oddities of our society. That there are forbidden words makes no sense to me. Of course I’m referring to common curse words and derogatory terms. (That there are certain body parts which must be hidden from public view is also a concept that is beyond my understanding, but that’s a topic for another discussion.)

Why does society condemn the use of one term, but embrace the use of other terms with the same definition? What is it that makes a word vulgar? Why do we have that concept? How can there be good words and bad words? We don’t have good colors and bad colors. Who decides which words are bad and what criterion is used to differentiate them from good words? Why do we say bad words when something bad happens? This is really quite bizarre.

None of this makes any sense to me, but it seems to be changing. Everyday I find what I consider coarse language on otherwise respectable websites that would have been absolutely unacceptable when I was growing up. In 1964 a stand-up comedian named Lenny Bruce was convicted of obscenity in New York for using vulgarity in his act. The language posted on social media by millennials today is as vulgar as anything he said.

Just last week I was in my favorite family restaurant waiting for my adult daughters and their families. It was Monday, which was the day that young children eat free, so there were many young families with their children there. I happened to look up and see a woman, who I guessed was about 50 years old, who was waiting at the cashier to pay her bill. She was wearing a black coat with large red lettering across the back which said “YOU’RE MINE MOTHERF****R” (It was not censored as I’ve shown it.) I thought it was really inappropriate. It is difficult for me to remain indifferent to such coarseness, but then I’m reminded how silly it is for society to dictate that some words should not be spoken or displayed in public.

Writers today seem incapable of writing a paragraph without including an assortment of so-called four letter words. I’m actually somewhat ambivalent about this. On one hand the use of four letter words by so many people seems really inappropriate, but on the other hand if we abandon the concept of bad words, then the issue goes away. I have long considered the use of swear words a crutch for a lame brain, but who knows. We’ll just have to wait and see how this unfolds.


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