He says: O is for Obscenity
“The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a fucking lunatic.” – Stephen Fry
Let’s talk about swearing.
We tell kids not to swear. We call obscenities ‘adult’ words. Bullshit. Swearing is the right of kids as much as it is the right of adults just as every word in the language of your choice is.
We shouldn’t be teaching kids that swearing is bad, we should be teaching them context because it is in context that all words become correct or incorrect. Using a word like ‘happy’ in the wrong context is as obscene as using a ‘four-letter-word’ in the wrong context.
Don’t swear because it’s cool, swear because no other word fits the bill quite so succinctly. In fact, if you treat every word in your language this way, then you will become a great writer and orator.
We take certain words and we isolate them, we cast them out and vilify them and by doing so, we make them ‘cool’, ‘dangerous’, and at the mercy of those who don’t value context.
So we teach our kids not to swear. Why? If you ask your child to clean their room and they tell you to fuck off, is that any worse than them simply saying ‘no’? The outcome is the same. You just think it’s worse because you’ve decided that certain words must never be used.
Kids rebel. Give them rebellious words and they will use them. Teach them that all words are ok in the correct context and they have no reason to view obscenities as rebellious.
When is the last time you heard a kid running around screaming the word ‘table’. Try telling your kid that the word ‘table’ is an adult word and kids must never say it and hey presto.
Treat all words the same. If you are using them to be hurtful, hateful or vindictive then they are obscenities regardless of whether the words you are using are traditionally considered swear words. The words ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ in the hands of the uneducated is far more destructive, more obscene than the word ‘fuck’.
So chill the fuck out, get your shit together and start using language contextually.
“Perhaps the only precept taught me by Grandfather Wills that I have honoured all my adult life is that profanity and obscenity entitle people who don’t want unpleasant information to close their eyes and ears to you.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus