I have been bothered by a piece I wrote for FourStory. I wrote it when I was drunk. I’m not normally drunk but the circumstances were dire. I thought my darling daughter, Commie Girl, had inflammatory breast cancer and I was trying to get my ducks in a row to go back to California to nurse her back to health, but the odds were not good. I was in a really horrible state of mind. So I made a martini and went out to my bench made from my deceased cottonwood tree and drank it down.
My tongue (via my fingers on the keyboard) was loosened. I wrote the FourStory piece, a slovenly effort, but it still had its own little smidgeon of truth.
So, as I’ve said already, I’ve been bothered by that piece. It’s because I really haven’t made my case. There were a couple of comments, both unsympathetic to my love of swearing, and both by men. (In all fairness they didn’t know why I was so upset.) Both guys said they used plenty of profanity but were ashamed of themselves for it. One said that his mother started using a lot of profanity when she got old and was a little senile (my words) and it bothered him because it was just not like her. My immediate reaction was that that was his REAL mom, the mom who held her tongue and was too polite to cuss was the fake mom. The REAL mom spoke truth to power, Baby.
Anyway, I’m sober now and ready to take on the non-cussers out there.
I looked up the definition of “profanity.” It comes from a Latin word that means “outside the temple.” All non-temple buildings were called profane buildings, back in the day. It doesn’t mean anything nasty. It just means it’s not the temple. It’s the everyday normal place.
I thought about that. I liked that meaning. Profane language was secular, concerned with the day-to-day aspects of life. Blasphemy, on the other hand, was an attack on religion or its personnel and that was a SIN. But not profanity. Heh.
Yeah. Read your Bible, Bible-toters. Nothing in there about cussing. However, if you use the name of the Lord in vain, whooooo hooooo, Hell-time, bruddah. All day long God-fearing folks say things like, “God, what a hot day!” or “Oh, my God, that was a close call.” And they think nothing of it.
But say, “Fuck! That was a close call!” and they’re all offended.
And guess where profane blasphemy started? With ancient comedians! (At least that’s what Wikipedia says.) I LOVE THAT! They were the ones who bravely went where no man dared to go. They stuck a finger in the eye of the powerful and said, “FUCK YOU!”
I also found out that swearing and cursing occurs in all human languages and have specific neurological and linguistic characteristics and may even exist in chimpanzees. I have no idea how anybody found that out. A certain wave of the forefinger? A jutting out of the chin?
The oldest existing writing contains swear words. Germans swear the most, Brits come in second, and we are third. AND did you know there is profane language in the Bible? The quote in Wikipedia goes like this: “men who eat their own dung, and drink their own piss.” Heh.
Say that in a polite conversation.
But I swear because I absolutely LOVE to swear.
I swear because it sets me free. I swear because swearing exercises my freedom of speech and I exercise my freedom of speech because if I don’t I will become fearful of upsetting the status quo. If I don’t swear, little by little I will curb my tongue. Little by little I will let things go that should be spoken to. Little by little I will become afraid to speak up. Little by little I will gradually become silent and acquiescent. Little by little I will cease to exist as a person who makes a difference in the world when it needs to change.
All you guys who live in California or New York or other such sophisticated places already use cussing and swearing on a daily basis and it is no big deal using a “fuck” or “motherfucker” in your common discourse. Ahhhh, the Land of Freedom. But here in Oklahoma, there is nothing quite so bad as “bad language.” It is the same as spitting in someone’s face.
And this lack of cussing creates a culture in which everyone is polite (to your face) and no one expresses an opposing opinion (just thinks it) and everyone is locked up tight.
I will now erase the words “everyone” and “no one.” Because OF COURSE there are the brave and noble folks whose tongues will not be tied and whose words will not be squelched and whose ideas come pouring out of their mouths in torrents. They can no more curb their language than fly. Well. . . they DO fly. They fly in freedom.
Finally, Dear Readers, I am going to leave you with this. It is Mario Savio, the leader of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in the 60s, my hero, the man who turned my life around, the man who set me free with that grand old German word FUCK.
Here he is. He’s fuckin’ great!