Anyone who’s talked to me, read my tweets or Facebook updates or has generally spoken to me would know that there’s not a lot that offends me. In fact if I was to think about it really hard for a few seconds…wait…wait for it…nope, I can’t think of anything that actually offends me. There are things that I find offensive, like intolerance and general fucktardery towards people, but I don’t get offended by words.
It got me to thinking. When and how do people actually become conditioned to be offended by certain words? I don’t think there’s any particular word in the English language that offends me, nor really any combinations of words. Language just doesn’t offend me no matter how tastelessly or offensively it’s used.
So at what stage of people’s lives do they become sso sensitiesd to words and phrases that they cause them some sort of offence either personally or morally? Also, where is this bred from? Does it come from the parents instilling their kids with their obviously more oldschool beliefs and feelings? Or does it manifest in schools?
I only ever went to public schools, so I never had any religion or anything like that pushed on me at school via teachers of chaplains and I think I grew up ok and got a decent education. But what about private/catholic schools? I knew a few people that ended up going to a Catholic school in highschool, but they were all pretty much like me, they weren’t uptight or easilly offended and they certainly didn’t watch their language outside of school. That said, I don’t know if they went to the private schools because of their family and their belief system, or if they went there because their parents had stacks of cash and had it in their head that private education = better education. That’s something I personally don’t believe to be true as the majority of the people I knew from school are all very intelligent and well educated people.
So where does it come from? Why do words really offend some people but not others? It baffles me and I’m sure it only baffles me because I take no offence to words. I’m sure if I walked up to 10 random people in the street and said “What’s up cunt?” probably half of them would be affronted by it, but I think a smaller number would be actually offended by the word itself. I want to know why those people are offended by the word. I’ll put it on record that I use the word cunt a lot. I also use the word fuck a lot and I’m sure I drop a bunch of shits in my day to day life. I don’t do it where I know people won’t appreciate it. I don’t answer the phone on my desk at work and go “Andrew speaking, who the fuck’s this and what do you want ya cunt?”. But in general language usage among friends my tongue flows much more freely and profainly.
I’d also be interested to know if as each generation comes along the sensitivity to language is waning. It seems that the only people I see ranting and raving about foul language are the older generations who unfortunately are the lawmakers but I haven’t come across a younger person who’s pulled me or anyone I know up on the language they use. Speaking of law makers, did the Police in Queensland actually ever end up getting the power to fine people on the spot for using swear words in public? I know there has been a call for it recently to be introduced into Victoria but the whole uproar over the propsal in QLD seemed quite short lived.
Now I can understand why some people get offended by some words. The dreaded N word comes to mind and I can see how that has massive historical context in terms of the oppression and hatred shown towards a specific culture/race of people. And I don’t want to come across as being like “ah you know, just get over it dudes” when it comes to that, but the amount of effort and emphasis that a proportion of those people (what do you mean those people?) have put on reclaiming that word and now use it as a general part of their vocabulary makes me wonder if the generational gap does come into it. The generations of African American people who had direct family links to those who were enslaved by The Man are drifting further away from when it happened. Not that it should be forgotten as a part of history, but perhaps the ingrained hatred and fear associated with the word may be lessening as it is reclaimed by those who’s descendants it was used against.
I didn’t intend to go onto a tangent about racial vilification and hatred, I do want to keep this focussed on me and my geeneral microcosim. Obviously words that are used hatefully towards other people based on the fact that they look or act different is going to cause offence and I acknowledge that. I just wonder if as the world moves slighty forward in terms of tolerance and acceptance that the ills of the past drifting further away from us could lead us to a new way of thinking about words and what they can do.
Anyway, let’s have the Slut Walk and the Cunt March and lets all just stop being so fucking sensitive about cunting language for fuck sake. Jesus Christ the world is full of touchy fucks.
To finish with here’s a CNN piece of the late great George Carlin’s Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television from not long after he died looking at then and now. Not much seems to have changed despite what they say, the amount of bleeping in this shows that -