Saturday, June 28, 2008
Should we Worry About 'Celebrity Swearing'?
My school-teacher mother used to chide us kids about any use of swearwords when I was growing up; I probably reacted to this by adopting the profanities of my Shropshire countryside peers as commonplace additions to my own speech. But even allowing for my own habitual swearing, I was persuaded by Hastings. Listening to even very young schoolkids on the bus, it is now the rule for them to call each other 'twats', 'cunts' or to tell each other to 'fuck off'. Whilst my age group used such words privately(and, never in front of women) today's youngsters feel no inhibitions about anyone overhearing them. To intervene to ask them not to speak so coarsely would inevitably invite the accusation of being a 'boring old fart' plus a probable fusillade of the very words to which one was objecting.
Swearing in private, or with one's friends is one thing but to do so in public really does devalue our quality of life. Obscenities can offend the sensibilities of those who dislike the sexual references but more importantly they add aggression to everyday communication which I think we could well do without. If people are offended by such speech then one would hope people would desist in case offence were given. The fact that so many people seem not to worry about such things is a sign our culture has already become 'yobbified' in the way Hastings fears.
You're right that swearing used in some contexts sounds vulgar. But I reckon the vulgarity is because of the context, not the swearing itself: the kids on the bus are showing contempt for something or other, and it is that which we find distasteful. Hastings - whose article I haven't read - is just an uppity Tory.
Yes, it's a good example of how swearing can express and ventilate anger; I'm opposed however to its direction at others.
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