The first was a comment left by someone in connection with my earlier post, #4 - Justice. It would seem that my 'bad language' makes the blog posts I write seem very 'ranty' and 'quite missing the point'. I thought it was bullshit and deleted it, but I also found it interesting, and for several reasons.
Firstly, I am not entirely sure from the brief comment, how 'bad language' can make what I consider to be an otherwise articulate enough blog-post a rant. If the post is a rant anyway, it's going to be a rant with or without 'bad language.' A few fucks and cunts aren't going to change that, are they?
Secondly, blog posts differ from writer to writer. Indeed, writers differ from each other. Styles, voices, subject matters. If every writer had the same voice, the world of writing would be a mind-numbingly dull place. And I don't think I'm the only person who thinks that.
Thirdly, the person who left the comment said that my 'bad language' made it seem like I had quite missed the point. And that is something I also find extremely interesting.
Logically, how does swearing make it seem like I missed the point of my own blog-post? Is it being suggested that I missed the point of the subject matter I was ranting about..? Sorry, did I say 'ranting'? What I meant was discussing in an angry, bombastic and wild manner!
Like many personal blogs, the subject matter in #4 - Justice was the idea of vigilantism, lynch-mob thinking and compensation funded by the tax-payer for prison inmates who've been roughed up inside.
That particular blog-post, like pretty much all of them, were personal opinions. If my personal opinions were ill-founded by virtue of failing to take account of some vital piece of information, that's one thing. But how, will someone please tell me, does swearing demonstrate that I have missed the point? And besides, telling someone that they have missed the point without suggesting the point that they have missed, is unhelpful to the point of looking as though THEY missed the point.
But all of my blog-posts were included in this comment. How have I managed to miss the point in all of them - each one being my own personal opinion on a particular subject matter (and I don't think there's any prohibition on expressing personal opinion in the blogging world, and nor do I think there are rules about how one must express themself, give or take a few defamation of character laws, inciting hatred and so-forth). Ranting is just one form of personal expression and it is neither right nor wrong. Frustration with the perceived madness of the world often ends up being expressed as a rant, and although some people may not want to read it, I fail to see how swearing turns a piece of writing into a rant of its own accord, and I also fail to see how swearing gives the appearance of having missed the point each and every time.
Swearing isn't that bad anyway. I get so sick of people harping on about people who swear as though it is objectively offensive, and as though it is wrong and as though they are right for not swearing. As though they stand proudly on the moral high-ground surveying with distaste the illiterate savages below.
Would it be right of me to leave a comment on someone's blog, attacking them for having no swearing in their posts just because I personally prefer to read swearing? Of course not. It's their choice. If someone writes something about a subject matter they feel passionate about without swearing, it's not going to make me not read it. It's not going to make me think less of them. It's not going to make me leave a comment saying:
"You sound stiff, and boring and although your lack of swearing shows that you fully understand what you're talking about, it sounded wooden and unrealistic."
No. I wouldn't do that. I can appreciate that this is their style. I can appreciate that they don't feel the need.
It doesn't however, make them
a) right, or
b) a better writer.
Too much moralistic bullshit is associated with swearing. Being offended by something is not evidence that the thing which offends you is Wrong. Taking offence at something is nothing more than evidence of what a person finds acceptable to their own set of beliefs and standards. You can't condemn someone for saying something to a wider audience because you find it offensive. That's just meaningless whinging. I find plenty of things offensive, like the way the Government treats people on benefits, or the way the law allows employers to treat workers like shit, or the way the NHS is being fucked over. That doesn't make me right. The offence I take might be reciprocated by many others, but it may also be opposed by many others. Which is why neither group of people are right. They simply hold an opinion.
Swearing has many uses, and I will always resist the argument that it dumbs down good writing. If used cleverly, it does not. It emphasises, embellishes and adds human feeling and passion. I'm not suggesting people throw in a fuck after every other word. It's pointless. Swearing - for anyone who uses and loves language - is simply another tool in the tool-box, and you should use it at just the right moment. You wouldn't bring out a sledge-hammer for a Philips-head screw, or to test your knee's reflex. You use it at the right time, and that is how I feel about swearing. It is, ultimately, how a lot of people speak.
I don't deny that swearing can't be used for insulting and abusing. It can. Very much so. But in the context of a few fucks in a post about justice, politics and such-like, I think it's hardly the same.
You see it all the time on these TV, fly-on-the-wall shows following coppers on-duty. The officers who are often out on the beat during the pub kicking-out hours. Arresting people under s5 of the Public Order Act for swearing. And you can just hear the viewers at home, applauding the bravery of our police force for having to deal with these foul-mouthed yobs. But it annoys me.
I personally feel that arresting some drunk for swearing is a misapplication of section 5 of the Public Order Act, which says this:
Harassment, alarm or distress.
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he--
(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby...
So when these coppers are throwing some drunken kid in the back of a meat wagon for swearing, is it really right? Is swearing now to deemed a criminal offence under certain situations? Are we really meant to believe - and I DO mean ‘really’ believe - that police officers on the street at 2am, night after night, week after week, are likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress from hearing some slobbering drunk say FUCK?
I don't think so.
My personal opinion is that 'bad language' is a phrase that should apply to poor spelling, grammar and punctuation. Swearing isn't bad language. It's just language. The intention behind using such language may be bad, of course, and that is what must be condemned, just as it should be when people use words that are not swearing but are nonetheless considerably more offensive. Discriminatory insults of any description, whether racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist, disability-related. Prejudicial words and phrases - those are bad language.
Fuck, arse, bastard and cunt are not bad language on their own. Language evolves, I’m afraid. Just like most things language evolves and changes and develops. Meanings are shed and new meanings replace them. Melvin Bragg wrote a book to accompany his TV series about it, The Adventure of English.
What cunt once meant is still understood, but when I call someone a cunt, the original meaning of the word is not relevant, nor in my mind, nor part of my intent. In the Compact Oxford English Dictionary, "cunt" is described as “an unpleasant or stupid person.”
During the middle-ages, the word was not considered offensive but appears to have become so towards the end of the 18th century. It appears several times in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
It is also sneaked into Shakespeare’s Hamlet, through clever word-play: In Act III, Scene 2, Hamlet asks Ophelia, “Lady, shall I lie in your lap?”
Ophelia replies, “No, my lord.”
Hamlet, feigning shock, says, “Do you think I meant country matters?”
Then, to make the point that the emphasis is definitely on the first syllable of country, Hamlet says, “That's a fair thought, to lie between maids' legs.”
Of course, I’m no fucking Shakespeare, but come on…this is the man who is widely regarded as one of history’s finest playwrights slipping in a reference to the word that many people get their knickers in a twist about.
The word is currently sometimes used to show frustration, annoyance or anger. As a slang term it can be modified by a positive qualifier (funny, clever, etc.) in British, Irish, New Zealand, and Australian English, when referring to a person.
"Cunting" is often used as an intensifying modifier, much like the word “fucking“ (which seems to be rapidly losing its shock-factor).
So all in all, if you choose to be offended by words like cunt, that's a matter for you. And in the end, I may have missed the fucking point here, but I can tell you…it ain't through fucking swearing.
For anyone who thinks I'm wrong to swear in my writing, I have just one thing to say.
I'm not fucking interested.