Why Is Everyone Cursing?
Two things happened recently that highlighted the increase in cursing in everyday life that just wouldn’t have happens as recently as 10 years ago.
The first was during one of my increasingly rare visits to Northampton, other that is than to attend Council meetings, when a large group of young people sat around in Abington Street were enjoying themselves as you would expect when with their friends.
What stood out however was that every other word from both sexes seemed to be a curse word and more particularly the f***, c*** and t*** words.
The impact on the people and especially the older generation was clear with them glancing at the group as they walked by giving them what used to be called an “old-fashioned look” which varied between disgust and despair.
The second was when talking to someone who I’ve known for over 20 years their use of the f*** word was prolific and used not to emphasise or stress a point but what appeared to be a normal part of his everyday language.
Now don’t get me wrong and I certainly don’t object, in fact I’d be a massive hypocrite if I said I never swear or use language and words that some will find offensive.
The question is how has it all become for a large part of the population acceptable to curse anywhere you want without any regard for those who may hear it?
Of course people may point to the landmark legal case around Lady Chatterley Lover in the 60’s and the writings of Virginia Wolf as the turning point that opened the floodgates to the use of language that was previously reserved for soldiers, dockers and manual labourers.
The argument is that use of language is the unalienable right of ‘freedom of speech and freedom of expression’
Try that argument if you ever use the n***** word which I know will now raise the issue of the difference between foul and abusive language and racist language.
Both in my mind are equally offensive to whoever is offended by it.
I still vividly recall the first time I accidentally swore in front of my mother forgetting that I wasn’t still at work down Silverwood Colliery in Rotherham.
I was 17 and inadvertently used the f*** word.
My immediate thought during what I suppose would be called a ‘pregnant pause’ was “please don’t let her hear that”.
I never did find out if she did or not but my dad certainly did and the rest they say is history.
Suffice to say I never swore in front of her again and even today if I feel I need to use a curse word in explaining an incident or to emphasise a point I still if in ‘company’ apologise beforehand as if seeking some level of understanding.
I don’t know why it makes it any more acceptable, but it seems to.
Whatever puritans think there are times when a good curse word is the only appropriate one that really sums up your true feelings for example, if you stub your toe, hit your thumb with a hammer or get frustrated to the point of extreme exasperation such as waiting for a bus that doesn’t turn up.
Which begs the question does the proliferation of using swear words in everyday language devalue their impact.
Perhaps the incredibly talented Michael Flanders of Flanders and Swan fame summed it up perfectly when in answer to be asked what his attitude to the increase in swearing said,
“I’m against it, there will soon be none left over for special occasions”
A sentiment I totally agree with.