Dog-gone it, cussing is out of hand
Editor’s note: While Biff America takes an offseason hiatus, we are
re-running some of his favorite columns.
At the age of 8, along with my buddy Rudy, I co-authored the “Blitz.” The “Blitz” was a phrase incorporating every swearword known to man – or at least known to boys.
Rudy and I could say the 14-word sentence at a speed that made it incoherent to adults. The delight we received from pronouncing the “Blitz” in front of teachers and clergy was immense.
To them it sounded like the silly utterings of little boys; to us we were pulling the wool over the eyes of authority. In keeping of a blood-oath, I cannot divulge the entire contents of the “Blitz,” but I will confess that the words “nipple” and “uterus” were included. Now granted, the aforementioned nouns are not technically swearwords, but we thought they were at the time.
I was reminded of the “Blitz” a few days ago while riding the ski bus. The vehicle was packed: families with kids, older couples, sleepy locals, and a couple of attractive young girls with more holes in their faces than a piccolo.
While sitting in close proximity to Midwestern, church-going, Lawrence Welk types, the two young ladies gave a high-decibel discourse on verbal atrocities and descriptive bodily functions. They were discussing the day and night before, spicing their dialogue with many colorful adjectives.
The crowd reacted in two distinct ways: mildly amused and grossly appalled. At first, I was among the former. It was almost cute seeing these darling, though well-pierced, ladies, swearing like soldiers.
But before long, I began to feel sorry for the mothers, who tried in vain, to cover their children’s ears. In between vulgarities, I leaned over and whispered, “Maybe you two ladies should keep it down. You’re scaring the tourists.”
The littlest one looked at me in disgust and said in a voice loud enough for the whole bus to hear “Why don’t you — my –, you —-. I should point out what she asked me to do, though done to our former president, would be an impossible act to perform on any woman. The bus got as quiet as a tofu stand at a gun show, and all eyes were now on me. I needed a quick comeback. I responded, “Sorry I can’t, I just flossed my teeth.”
“Cursing is the self-expression of the ignorant.” That was an expression my mum would use when overhearing even the mildest expletive.
My old man would be holding a crushed thumb from an errant hammer swing, and after uttering the first noun that came to mind, he would be reproached. Hearing my mum scold my father was always a treat for me. When that would happen, I’d issue the “Blitz” and crack myself up.
I’m comfortable with the use of four-letter words. I grew up in a man’s world, played violent sports and worked as a longshoreman. Cursing was a rite of passage into a masculine realm where little was taboo.
But that said, I always knew it wasn’t acceptable in mixed company. I remember spending my days unloading coffee bags from ships, then heading to my grandmother’s house for dinner. If I used the same language in the evening as I did in the day, I might have killed the old girl. Swearing was like dirty jokes – only shared with those like-minded.
I still know my way around verbal vulgarity. Some dialogue between my friends and me would qualify as obscene.
I also hold there are jokes and situations where profanity is sometimes required to get your point or punch line across. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone saying any words to me that I would find offensive.
Stupid maybe, but not offensive.
And I know this might sound hypercritical coming from the author of the “Blitz,” but young people these days need to realize vulgarity is like cigar smoke: pleasant to some, appalling to others.
I think cursing has attained a perceived status of mass acceptance in the youth culture. I find that disheartening. It is almost as if they have taken something that was meant as a mutual abandonment between those so inclined and turned it into a product of mass consumption.
Maybe the younger generation has been anesthetized by the wealth of profanity in the media. They might be under the misconception that cursing is how America communicates. When I was co-writing the “Blitz,” I was aware the bad words were something wild, forbidden, offensive to many. That’s why I liked them.
In my generation, curses were an emphatic exclamation, used to make a point or to express anger. They were reserved for their shock effect and used mostly around peers. Even now I still feel more comfortable around those with whom I can speak freely.
Some could contend that profanities “are only words,” words we should be free to use in public. I would agree, in part. I don’t think there is any good reason why Middle America is offended by some words and not by their synonyms, but that is the case.
And since there are many fine substitutes for profanity, let’s keep them available to use on the bus, and save the “Blitz” for special occasions S
Biff America can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio, and read in this and other fine newspapers.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User