On Swearing.

I don’t like it when people swear unnecessarily. By unnecessarily I mean anything on the order of “that was fucking awesome!” at something middlingly interesting, or “fuck off” to mean “shut up” or… you get the point.

My reasons? Well, because it devalues the force of you swearing. If you’re the kind of person who says “fuck” every few sentences, it’s going to be very hard for people to differentiate an emotional, forceful expletive from all the “background” ones. I don’t swear, right, so if I do ever say “fuck” in an even slightly serious context, the people I’m with take it very seriously. Immediately. I say “shut the fuck up” and they shut the fuck up alright.

I don’t mean to say you’re wrong if you swear a lot though. This cannot be either right or wrong. All a matter of taste and utility.

However, I seem to take quite perverse pleasure in characters in books or movies or series who swear. A lot. My recent favourite is Malcolm Tucker, from the highly recommended The Thick Of It. Here are a few selected quotations:

FUCK’S SAKE! JESUS CHRIST! Well, now we’ve got another fucking adjective to add to fucking ‘smug’ and ‘glum’, haven’t we? ‘FUCKING RETARDED!’ Do you think it would not just be germane to check who you’re talking to? IT’S A FUCKING NEWSPAPER OFFICE! IT’S NOT A FUCKING SANATORIUM FOR THE FUCKING DEAF! ARE YOU SO DENSE?! AM I GONNA HAVE TO RUN AROUND SLAPPING BADGES ON PEOPLE WITH A BIG TICK ON SOME AND A BIG CROSS ON OTHERS SO YOU KNOW WHEN TO SHUT YOUR GOB AND WHEN TO OPEN IT?! JESUS CHRIST, THAT’D PROBABLY CONFUSE YOU AS WELL, WOULDN’T IT? THAT’D BE TOO CONFUSING, YOU’D SEE THE CROSS AND GO ‘OH, FUCK, X MARKS THE SPOT! I’D BETTER TELL THIS LITTLE PERSON ABOUT THE PRIME MINISTER’S FUCKING CATASTROPHIC ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION!’ Oh, but not to worry, not to worry. You’ve sent fucking Olly over there to deal with it. FUCKING OLLY! HE’S A FUCKING, HE’S A FUCKING KNITTED SCARF, THAT TWAT! HE’S A FUCKING BALACLAVA!

You breathe a word of this to anyone, you mincing fucking CUNT, and I will tear your fuckin’ skin off, I will wear it to your mother’s birthday party and I will rub your nuts up and down her leg whilst whistling Bohemian fuckin’ Rhapsody, right? Now get out of my fucking sight!

Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off

I quite enjoyed those. I don’t know why exactly.

Specifically, I don’t know if I like it because of the context it’s spoken in and thus because of the excellence of the story, or because I don’t swear myself and so this is like some sort of weirdo post-deprivation wish fulfilment thing.

I’m leaning more towards the first. Because everything I’ve seen that could be considered crass also had quite nice stories. That said, I’ve never (as far as I remember, anyway) given up something profane because of the story, so I don’t know.

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