First of all, thanks for all the points of view raised about my filthy potty mouth in the comments of yesterday’s post. This ain’t the first time the subject’s come up; some commenters tell me they share my affinity for expletives, while others seem to want to wash my mouth out with soap. Given that the topic’s popped up again, I thought I’d finally explain myself.
My take is that expletives, in and of themselves, are basically harmless. (If anything, swearing can help alleviate stress and pain.) I don’t have a problem with using four letter words (obviously!) unless they’re used to demean or otherwise hurt someone. Example: “This recipe is f***ing awesome!” is A-OK in my book, but “you have s*** for brains” is not. For me, cursing is context-specific — but then again, so are most words. With malicious intent, just about any words can be used to inflict damage, right?
That’s certainly not what I’m trying to do here. I just like to use certain…spicy words because they succinctly and colorfully express a particular point I wish to make. Yes, I could sit around and try to think of ways to rephrase an expression, but: (1) that’s time I don’t have, (2) I don’t want this blog to start sounding like the network-TV-censored version of the movie playing in my brain, which is R-rated for language but not for violence. (Overdubbed John McClane in Die Hard: “YIPPEE KI-YAY, MISTER FALCON!”)
As a parent of two young ‘uns, believe me — I’m pretty good about limiting my cussin’ to this here blog. Have I occasionally slipped and let out a stray curse when I’ve stubbed my toe? Sure — but I’m not worried that my kids’ll grow up sans morals or manners. They know exactly what they should and shouldn’t say to others. (They even think the words “hate” and “stupid” are verboten.) Here’s how I know it’s working: A few years back, I was pushing Big-O on the baby swings at the park, and another mommy accidentally shoved her kid off the swing. The little boy landed face-first in the tanbark. Big-O shrieked: “Oh, my GOODNESS!”
Granted, I haven’t raised a teenager (yet), and I still have tons to learn about parenting. But I know that an important part of my job is to make sure my kids understand how to comport themselves in society, and I also recognize that they’ll eventually be exposed to much, much worse than someone saying “I gotta get our s*** together for our trip to Kauai.” (E.g., anything on the evening news.) Besides, I’m not a believer in the circular logic of “if kids hear you curse, they’ll start cursing.” In the end, it all goes back to the question of “who’s being hurt?”
Check me on this, though. If it gets to the point where I start to use cuss words on this site in a way that’s mean-spirited or hostile rather than simply expressive, let me know, and I’ll cut it the eff out! :)