Monday, October 30, 2006

Easy on the swears

Last night my wife chuckled that she never imagined I would be the potty-mouth in our household. I responded that I didn't either! I can't recollect either of my parents swearing ever in their lives. The closest is when my dad once said, " don't know a Sam Hill thing you're doing." But it's all in the inflection really. That statement at that time was three times as potent as an F bomb.

I still never use any name of deity as a swear. Besides being the only literal prohibition in scripture that I'm aware of in terms of swears, it really does feel wrong to me. I'd drop an F bomb over that any day. And it's the only kind of swear that bothers me in the least.

And being bothered is what I've considered to be important about swears. It's all conventional--which words are naughty and which aren't. My son's Potty Time With Elmo video has an entire segment for all the various words you can use for feces and urine. For social reasons alone, certain words are omitted. They mean the exact same thing, right? So what's the big deal?

That's the line of reasoning that brought me to being a potty mouth. I don't do it in church or around people that I'm afraid will be offended. And I'm pretty much never offended when people swear around me because I take their meaning the way they intend it. Even if they're really cursing up a storm, I take the swears to be no more offensive than spouting their stupid tirade in polite terms would be.

But on the other hand, I do know there are people who are offended by swearing. And I think it's courteous to use more dignified language in deference to them. Those who think nobody deserves deference, least of all religious goody-goodies, are usually self-important snots. [See? It's so hard not to be snarky!] But, that's not to say I'll be offended if they swear, because I stand by my thought that swears are based on societal convention, and reading an individual context is much more effective. Plus, being offended is stupid and I get mad at myself when I do it.

Add to that the fact that the people I look up to most in life never swear, along with the specific language of certain temple covenants I've made, and I think it's time for a change. No more swearing.

I can hardly imagine how I'll manage the d--- thing. Ha!


Master Fob said...

Oh. I thought your reference yesterday to taking up swearing was an example of a GOOD change.

Chris said...

What the hell?

Scot said...

Funny, it’s my dad who’s become the source of naughty words in our family. He is the reason we’ve had the “grown up words” talk.

I kind of feel the same way about them as you L when hearing others swear; they don’t bother. It’s about the intended meaning, and for that you need to know the source.

Still, “F*beep*k” doesn’t convey the same emotion as “fudge” to the average person. When people do use the F word casually its potency is lost when they want it. I mean, imagine what’s conveyed if your dad said “D*beep*m H*beep*l”. It would have far more power than if my pop said it :-). For that reason, efficacy, I think swears should been kept in their case, until they’re absolutely needed for emotional force.

John Galt said...

I was sitting in Sunday School a few weeks ago when the teacher said we should try to avoid being around profanity (ie. Rated R films, friendships, etc.). Otherwise, surrounded by it, we could soon become immune to profanity.

I asked "Well, wouldn't that be a good thing then? I mean, being immune to profanity?"

She was uncomfortable to say the least.

The truth is that certain words are only profane because they illicit a particular emotion or reaction... not because of its meaning.

The F bomb for example. It means Fornication Under Carnal Knowledge... SEX. But the word sex is not profane. And yet the meaning is the same.

Crap also has the same meaning as another swear word. So does Penis, etc. etc. (I will refrain from making an exhaustive list here lol).

So if words are not profane because of their meaning but rather only because of the cultural baggage that they carry... well, becoming immune to them by hearing it too much is then a good thing, right?

I'm not advocating actually using the words, but I hear this "stay away from situations where profanity is used" argument quite often and it makes me curious.

If the answer is that profanity offends the Spirit, then that is another argument. But to say that our ears will get used to those words so that they don't burn anymore when we hear them, well then, they have lost their profanity, yes?

Just my 2 cents.

mark said...


What, then, is your reaction to the following, taken from the book _True to the Faith_ published by the church for youth and new converts as a guide to basic doctrines and standards? (i.e. an official church publication presumably passed through correlation, and one introduced by a statement by the First Presidency)


The quote follows:


36863, True to the Faith, Profanity, 128

Profanity is disrespect or contempt for sacred things. It includes casual or irreverent use of the name of any member of the Godhead. It also includes any type of unclean or vulgar speech or behavior.

Always use the names of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost with reverence and respect. Misusing their names is a sin. Profane, vulgar, or crude language or gestures, as well as immoral jokes, are offensive to the Lord and to others.

Foul language harms your spirit and degrades you. Do not let others influence you to use foul language. Instead, use clean language that uplifts and edifies others. Choose friends who use good language. Set an example that will encourage those around you to use clean language. If friends and acquaintances use profanity, good-naturedly encourage them to choose other words. If they persist, politely walk away or change the subject.

If you have developed the habit of swearing, you can break it. Begin by making a decision to change. Pray for help. If you are tempted to use profane language, keep quiet or say what you have to say in a different way.

Additional references: Leviticus 19:12; D&C 63:60–64

See also Modesty; Temptation

© 2006 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

-L- said...

I guess my response is, yup, that's why I need to change.

If you have developed the habit of swearing, you can break it. Begin by making a decision to change.

Man, I played right into their hands! I think it's the "unclean" and "vulgar" speech that's open to interpretation. (Potty Time With Elmo words and their equivalents don't really hold contempt for sacred things!) One man's vulgar is another man's chit-chat.

It's good to hear from you again, Mark.