© 2016 by Charles D. Jones

Profanity

June 6, 2019

I don't remember hearing my dad ever utter one word of profanity. My mom said "damn" once when she burned her hand on something hot while cooking. Unfortunately for her, she said that within earshot of my dad and me, and she never heard the end of it. I imagine my parents would have cursed more had they raised more kids. I know I did, as we went from 1 to 2 to 3.

 

I probably shouldn't blame my kids, but my language has gotten more colorful with age. Sometimes I wonder about this evolution. I could say it's just the result of involuntary responses to the challenges of life, but that would imply I have a damaged frontal lobe, precluding a will free to choose a more intelligent response. So I shouldn't use that excuse, particularly since I failed to use it when I most needed it--at my sentencing hearing. 

 

Then I pondered if profanity might serve a valid purpose? Studies show that swearing can momentarily divert attention away from pain. It can also help us not get out of our car when cut off by a Prius with a COEXIST bumper sticker while leaving the church parking lot. Of course, socially acceptable versions like "gosh darn" and "shoot" work just as well at pain and anger diversion. Upon reflection, one reason "gosh darn" wasn't effective for me was that I was internally waging gorilla warfare against a perceived pseudo-pious, polite society that seemed to surround me. It was a way to "stick it to the man" or woman. It could also be fun and occasionally effective, but not exactly the best example of a purposeful life either. In fact, it's rather sad.

 

Now I find myself surrounded by a different society here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. I had no idea how to swear until living with 180 other inmates and, even worse, 10-15 federal corrections officers. Did you know that the F word can be a noun, verb, adjective and adverb in the same sentence? To provide some context, here's an actual quote: "****! That **** who ****ing cooked that ****ing soup can go **** himself!" (Don't try this at home).

 

This current what-not-to-do environment has re-taught me an eternal truth: NOBODY SWEARS SMART. Language may evolve, but a little forethought can provide a measure of stability on a verbal slippery slope. Over the last 45 months of my ongoing "rehabilitation," my language has actually improved. My mom and dad would be proud, as long as they didn't know where I re-learned to talk gooder.

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