Profanity

Today we live in a world where profanity and strong emotion fills our mouths.  Everyone can hear these words, most people use them, and it is almost a natural part of society.  But it all comes down to a single question: Is cursing good or bad? And is it that simple?  I hope to explore the points on both sides of the argument.  As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) my opinions are biased.  In the LDS faith, “we do not use foul language. We do not curse or defame. We do not use the Lord’s name in vain.” — President Spencer W. Kimball 1981. Thus, I am already against the use of profanity in our speech; yet I will attempt to remain unbiased in my examination of the subject. I do not hope to shame or offend anyone, whether they use or refrain from cursing; I simply wish to explore the subject as well as the arguments on each side.
Many would say that cursing is good because it adds emphasis. Which gives a harsher snap: curse words or replacement words like “crap” and “darn it”?  Sometimes you might really just need a sharper word to get the point across or to emphasize your feelings.  Using curse words as an emphasis is easy because it is universal.  Simply by changing the tone of your voice you can curse for excitement, anger, frustration, sadness, and joy.  The fact that most swear words can translate across emotions and forms of grammar probably contributes to the habit of serial cursing.
The first charge against profanity is that cursing makes the user seem ignorant and shows a lack of vocabulary. For example, it does not seem creative to use the F-bomb six times in a single sentence as a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb.  When used repetitively it simply sounds ridiculous.  As far as intelligence goes, I do not mean to call anyone an idiot who curses, but think about it: the English language has close to a quarter million words; many of which are beautiful, rarely used words. From that perspective, it does seem rather ignorant to restrict yourself to the limits of a few curse words. In defense, there are some very smart people in the world who curse now and then. For those who tend to curse serially, I would recommend that they expand their verbal horizon.
In a general sense, society has considered profanity a taboo. This is part of the reason that swearing appeals to the teens and underdogs. When swearing one feels rebellious, stronger, and like standing up against the authorities!  Dr. Richard Stephens, senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University in the UK, explained to one of his students that when you utter a curse word or do something similarly unacceptable, your body releases adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone.  This small boost of adrenaline makes you feel slightly empowered and stronger.  For this reason, many people will use cursing as a boost of self-confidence, or a rebellious act of defiance.  Although cursing is vulgar, more and more people are using curse words, and now it seems normal.  Here is the flaw of this adrenaline booster; if everyone uses the swear word, it no longer has the same effect.  This process desensitizes and is another reason that cursing is considered bad.
A swear word starts as an offensive word, generally considered impolite. It then grows through rebellious popularity before the adrenaline effects wear out as a result of overuse. How many offensive words will people create, become accustomed to, and then forget? And if cursing is so futile, why strive after a looping cycle of minuscule use?
The first day is always a stressful one: the first day of school, a new job, a club.  A lot of times people want to fit in.  Some propose that profanity is a good way to bond with people and show intimacy. If you want to join the club, you have to act like those in the club, right? Since everyone else is swearing left and right it would be weird for you not to!  In fact, some people say that a person who doesn’t swear is untrustworthy. However, no studies have been conducted to confirm this in any way, leaving this claim questionable. So if you want to fit in with your friends you better start spouting off a few dirty words, right? Or maybe not…
The definition of a swear word is, “an offensive word.” Yet, it is clear that many use cursing to show bonding as well as hatred.  Although it seems that these words are generally ok to throw around, they have had a horrible effect on our society. They portray us as angry, profane people, and they are degrading our society’s standards. Many can agree that the relationship between a man and a woman is one of partnership and teamwork. Swear words, however, have reduced women to sex toys and baby machines. Are they not people as well?  Why would you ever refer to a woman as a female dog? This only says that you consider her as a pet, and a dumb animal. It astounds me how the human race is constantly looking to find divisions among themselves with which to argue and offend.  Can we ever just get along?
Of course, swearing doesn’t have to be directed at people.  We can swear in pain and frustration and it’s totally fine.  You get up in the middle of the night to grab a glass of water, and suddenly BAM your toes are annihilated by the coffee table. In the excruciating pain, you spout off a couple swear words and keep moving. This scenario has probably happened to a lot of us, and many people claim that swearing makes the pain more bearable. It works the same way for stress if you are under a lot of pressure. Yelling a couple of swear words could help ease your mind a bit. This is still obviously okay because you can’t very well offend a schedule or coffee table.
The only true rebuttal to this statement is that swearing shows a lack of control. Patience, moderation, and forgiveness, what do these words have in common?  Well, they are all virtues. Yet swearing, in response to stress, pain, or frustration, while making it a little more bearable, does not show these virtues. Self-control is important in many aspects of life, yet if we can only resort to swearing when something bothers us how can we adequately show restraint when needed?
Is swearing good or bad? I will leave that for you to decide personally. In the end, it really boils down to personal opinions, beliefs, standards, and personalities. However, whatever you decide, be aware. Speech is a double-edged blade with both the power to protect and attack. Those who are unable to wield their speech often end damaging things they did not intend to. So use speech in accordance to that which is good, and unite people in truth and love, not deceit and hate. So I leave you, With the freedom of speech in your hands, to do as you will.

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