“What I’m saying might be profane, but it’s also profound.”
― Richard Pryor
I am no stranger to cursing. In fact, my command of the colloquial stops just short of iconic. Sure, I can fuckin’ censor myself on the fly– but when it comes down to brass tacks… Even I have a line. There’s a line where my words will inevitably stop being weapons of psychological terrorism (like the time someone foolishly invited me to be on the dais for a roast) and become a means of social suicide. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to fucking figure out the point where the magnificent bastard would become the muttonfucking bigot.
… and no, fuck you, this isn’t going to be a plea to drop a gratuitous n-bomb. Pay attention, I’m about to blow your fucking mind to the back of the auditorium without so much as a whisper.
Oh yeah. Breaking out the Subgenius reference.
Back when our grandparents were kids, people were seriously up tight. Trust me, that’s part of why their slang was so goddamn eclectically creative. Sure, you could make like Prodigy and smack your bitch up (and still be considered an upstanding citizen), but the kinds of words termed “vulgar” by modern standards would turn you into a social pariah. Yeah, back in the day, being able to swear like a sailor wasn’t a matter of vernacular nor comedy– it was a quick way to get everyone you know to disown you.
Wanna get some strange looks? Don’t yell “fuck!” in a crowded store. Try quoting SLC Punk! and yell “Union Jack is a fag!” See how fast people start getting that uneasy look. Actually, try that, I want to know how many people high-five you for the reference. Anyway.
The very definitions of profanity and obscenity include the fact that such language will reflect poorly upon the user. Now tell me… which individual is going to be looked at in a harsher light: the guy in the middle of a crowded mall screaming, “Fuck off and die, you shit-eating cock waffle,” or the same guy dropping an n-bomb with the same imagined animation?
You see where I’m going with this.
That’s right, I just 720 cockslapped it like a linguistics major would…. Take THAT, Eng 502!
“Classic” profanity has wormed its way into the common lexicon as pervasively and effectively as steroids in sports. The acronym WTF is common on the news, and don’t try to claim that we all don’t know what it means. I can say “fuck” pretty much anywhere, and nobody will bat a goddamn eye. I can say “shit” with even more gusto. Damn and ass? Bitch, don’t make me laugh. Sure, the language still serves the purpose of lalochesia—but if that’s it, does it still fit the classification?
I maintain not.
However, there’s a kind of language that is ill-defined and constantly growing—and that’s the vulgar tongue of the bigot. I’m not going to skip around dropping N-bombs just to retain my shock factor, nor am I going to toss about any other slew of slurs—because fuck you, I have class. Right here, ladies and gentlemen, is the very illustration of what I’ve been going for. Am I going to argue about times where this type of language is appropriate? Fuck no, I’m not completely retarded—that’s a pile of shit for someone else to shovel.
Not to mention, this nebulous stretch of vernacular varies from region to region—culture to culture—and is starting to include homophobic slurs as well. If you think I’m wrong, ask fucking Jonah Hill—whose tirade (though pretty tame compared to the shit people say during fits of road rage) got him lit up like Times Square. Not to mention, what language is most used behind the semi-anonymous veil of online gaming? If you answered basic vulgarity, you’ve clearly not had the joy of hearing a tween rattle off ill-formulated barrages of bigotry. I chose the term joy not entirely out of sarcasm—because it’s pretty fucking hilarious to hear.
Take note—the language, she’s a-changing.
And I still want to be the first seated President to say “fuck” on the Senate & House floors.