No, really. Can we just drop that saying? I find it truly irritating because I’m not really sure it’s that explosive in this day and age. The word, a verb meaning to (well, we all know what it means), has been around since 1495, perhaps even earlier. That means when my Dutch ancestors arrived in New York (New Amsterdam at the time) more than three centuries ago, they had already been using that word for more than a century.
Somewhere along the line (no one seems to be sure when), people decided the word was vulgar along with many others we now say without thinking. When I was young there were many words you could not say on television not to mention body parts that couldn’t be shown. Today there is an entire video dedicated to Sawyer’s (of “Lost”) predilection for saying “son of a bitch” and plenty of nearly naked bodies.
On the other hand, at some point along the line, using God’s name to curse on television became standard policy. Why has it become accepted to ask our Lord to damn someone for us yet we cannot use a word that still means what it did originally?
If we allow one should we not allow all others? Would they not begin to lose their power as others have? The Canadians, always way of ahead of us progressively, now consider usage of the f-word commonplace.
My grandfather used to tell me (I had a pretty foul mouth as a teen) that those who had to use what was considered “bad” language to communicate were just not intelligent enough to come up with the words needed to express themselves in a civilized manner. I was chastened but it didn’t stop me.
Most of us have learned where and when we can use this type of language. Tom Hank’s accidental use of the f-word on “Good Morning America” aside (give the guy a break, he was in character), most celebrities and politicians watch what they say when interviewed. We watch our language at work, school and in church. If we can do this then why do we feel comfortable speaking differently in private with our friends and families? It has always struck me as an odd disconnect like a filter being turned off and on at will.
I keep telling myself that if I feel the need for an expletive then I should start using meaningless things like “Horace Greeley,” Sacre Bleu,” “Thunder Turtles,” “Schweinhund,” and the like. There are plenty of them out there.
So do I have a solution? No. Apparently, we will always use language to curse and offend people, to express our anger and frustration, and so on. The real question is: are four-letter words REALLY that offensive anymore?