Beware: I curse. A college classmate once said of my language that when I go into the bar, the sailors leave. My language is so blue gangs of Oompa Loompa’s have tried to roll me down to the juicing room before I explode.
I note this because a reader emailed me to say she would never read anything I posted again because I used profanity in my recent column about tennis and the news media’s attempt to bully Naomi Osaka over her mental health issues.
The reader was polite. She believes the use of profanity is a trait of low intelligence.
That’s an old canard, spread by people who want to control what and how other people speak. That group includes a lot of people.
Science favors cussers
Studies show people who swear likely are to have a greater vocabulary than those who don’t.
I am profusely, pugnaciously, and proudly profane; I curse casually and intentionally for both humor and anger.
People evoke talk of a polite society.
We don’t have a polite society.
What we have is a bunch of people running around with ball bats ready to bludgeon anyone who dares disagree with them on even the finest point of language.
I know people who nearly come to blows in arguments over the Oxford comma.
My late Grandma Lois was not a fan. Neither are Parents 2.0.
But they’ve lived with me for a long time. They accept me foul-mouthed and all.
As for readers, well, I can’t hope to satisfy them.
Controlling other’s language is just another form of tyranny
People are very particular these days. We’ve lost the ability to shrug it off. If we see something we don’t like, then we must comment and maybe even try to stop it.
That’s great if a building is on fire; less needed when it comes to reading columns on the internet.
Society has problems. Profanity is the least of them.
Anyway, that’s what I think.
I went swimming Sunday. Some neighborhood kids snuck into the complex and were playing football in the pool.
The kids weren’t supposed to be there, but I’m not cop. They gave me enough room to hobble along in the deep end and do my exercises, so why bother with formalities?
The five boys played a game where one tossed a football up in the air and the others fought for a catch. Sometimes two guys got their arms on the ball; they battled for possession.
I watched the play and listened to their smack talk.
Made me feel like an amateur.
One of the smaller boys struggled to get catches between two of the tallest boys. His game might have been weak, but his smack talk was ready for the NFL.
He cursed out the passer. He cursed out his fellow players. He cursed the depth of the water.
I come from a proud tradition of swearers — humans
I suppose the nice lady who wrote me that she won’t be reading anymore, and thus will never see this, thinks I should have been horrified by such talk.
I was nostalgic.
I remember playing games at the pool or the park or friends’ yards.
We lobbed this kind of language, too.
Where did we learn to talk like that?
Swearing honors linguistic history
Plus, the words are old.
Hell and damn, religious in the origin, have been with us since the beginning of recorded language.
Anyway, who am I to turn my back on hundreds of years of expression just to appease a few tender-eyed readers.
Besides, we’ve loosened up on profane standards in recent years.
The late comedian George Carlin famously outlined the “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.”
I think we’re down to about four these days, maybe three after 9 p.m.
And on premium cable? Forget it. We’re all in.
All I’m saying is that I’m going to say whatever I want.
I don’t make money off these columns, though I wish I did.
Only the rich have true free speech
Soon, I will be employed.
Then I’ll probably stop writing this stuff.
Because if I’ve learned anything in my working life, it’s that your employer will go to great lengths to control what you say and how you say it.
If they could, I think some corporations would edit how you call your dog for food.
That’s how much of your soul you give to a corporation for a wage large enough for house, groceries, high-speed internet, and a couple of mugs of beer each week.
Free speech is only for the rich.
You need to have “fuck you” money to be able to say, “fuck you.”
I don’t have “fuck you” money.
I don’t have any money.
And that, at least for now, allows me to be free to say whatever I want with whichever words I choose.
I’m studying to be a teacher.
I obviously won’t be using those words in the classroom.
Once I get a contract to teach at a district full time, I probably won’t type them here, either.
In fact, I might not write any more columns at all.
Can you imagine the number of people who think they own every second of your time when you’re a teacher?
The administration. The students. The union. The parents. The legislature.
One stray curse word could make you breaking news on all three news channels and a push alert by the local paragraph factories.
But for now, just a lowly student on the outskirts of “polite society,” I’m free.
And with that freedom, I choose to curse.
In the words of the great Walter Sobchak, “Fuck it, Dude. Let’s go bowling.”