I read (and, by the way, LOVE!) the blog www.fasterthankudzu.com on a daily basis. You can see it over there, on the left with my other links, looking so shiny and clever. And it is. And the recent post was about using curse words in one's blog vs. in one's books. I commented initially but realized that it was a juicy enough topic I wanted to steal it for my own!
Now, I have no books. Or I should say more accurately, I have written no books and had none published, so I don't have to worry about how much I curse in my books. However I do talk. Man oh man do I talk! And I also curse sometimes. And so for me the question is more about cursing in this blog vs. cursing in life.
Those who have been before (and are by definition my favorites. Get you some chocolate or a pillow?) know that when the time comes to use the nasty words I tend to diffuse them by not using ALL the required letters. I go the old fashioned "f*ck" or "sh*t" route, which either indicates that I don't want to actually swear OR that I'm punishing the vowels involved. You who already know the word I'm alluding to also know what I'm going for, but some newbie or young innocent who breezes through won't be smacked in the puss w/ something they weren't expecting. And if you don't know me in real life this may have given you the idea that I'm not a user of the words oh-so dirty.
F*ck no! Oh my friends I do curse. I was taught by my father, the master, and I'm GOOD! A swearing savant, if you will! I've been known to make dock workers blush! I can pull out THE nastiest, grittiest, most costic and evil words when the situation merits it! But in my own life, when choosing the words to shoot out my gobb (and yes I DO choose my words carefully, despite how lightening-fast they come flying out!) I try to limit my use of the nasties to only occasionally. Not because I think using them is in any way BAD, but more because I appreciate the weight and power that they continue to have from me simply because I don't use them so much. In other words, when folks hear me really let loose a blue streak they tend to prick up their ears and come to see what's happening. "Oooh, Femtastic is a-swearin', let's go see what she smacked w/ a hammer!"
So why don't I let loose with the potty-mouth here? Because I don't know you guys like that. Actually I don't know most of you guys at ALL! I love that you come to see what craziness has most recently tumbled from my fingers in the form of words, but you don't know me and I don't know you, and it's just plain rude to slap you in the face w/ something you may find offensive when I don't even know you! In my real life the cursing would either happen in front of those who know me, and who also swear plenty so can't get offended, or in a situation where I've decided I don't give a rat's ass who I'm offending. Guy hits my car in the parking lot and I'm gonna let it fly! Kid starts picking on a smaller kid and watch the ears burst into flames! I hit
But not here. This is a safe place.
Last question from the initial post that started this whole thing was about whether there were words that nobody should ever use. Because I guess there are folks out there who consider specific words to be evil or full of poison and therefore outlawable. To that I answer with this story:
I was a grown-up in a Community College Humanities course some several years ago. For the most part I enjoyed sitting at the back of the class and trying to remember when I had EVER been so fresh-faced and innocent as all the 'just out of highschool' kids in the class. They were so cute with their "I would never compromise my morals ever, no matter how much money!" or their "you mean sometimes people will tell you to do something even when they know it might be wrong? It can't be!!!" I didn't want to be the one to shatter their rosey-colored glasses so I mostly kept my big, jaded, bitter mouth shut.
But one day when the class wandered in we were greeted with a chalk board on which had been written about 45 different words that were used as insults or degrading terms to certain groups. It was a nice collection of words really -- the teacher had sat around w/ his colleagues for a couple hours to get as varied a selection as possible, from "Uncle Tom" to "Yellow" to "Wop" or "Spic" and even the infamous "N Word." and everything in between. And the question he posed to the class was this: are there words that are so terrible they should be banned from use forever more?
I saw this question as a no-brainer and was actually amazed at how many kids attempted to make the argument that there were words that were that terrible and should be banned. They debated the "N word" in the classic "you can't use it because you're white, but me and my black friends use it in a different way and should be allowed to." form. There was discussion about why all of the words shouldn't be banned. (Um, 'scuse me but if we ban "Uncle Tom" then what do I call my Dad's brother, Tom? Also, isn't "yellow" a color too? What? Oh, we can't say "colored" anyway? Ok...) There was discussion about how to decide which words would be banned and how to even enforce it! I kept waiting for someone to take the stand of "no words should ever be banned" but it didn't come and didn't come. So I finally had to step up. And this is what I said:
"Words are tools. They have no power on their own, but only what people give them. What matters is not the word, but the way that someone uses it. You can kill someone with a hammer, but we're not going to ban all hammers, right? You cannot ever ban any word."
Now I am NOT a particularly wise person, and so I was flabber-boggled at the response in the room. It was like someone had just invented fire! Heated debate, raised voices, the occasional "oh, snap!" or "you buggin!" (mostly from the lame white kids) and I don't remember what the final outcome was. I just know that to this day I still think that's one of the smartest things I've ever said (never had much competition) and I think it's still true. What do you guys think? Keep the discussion going!
Word to Big Bird.