This will get political, eventually; I promise. But just bear with me while I think with my typing fingers for a while.
To start with, I’d like once again to discuss, this time briefly, the word fuck here. Aside from the pleasurable physical sensation (which I described in this previous post) of saying it, there’s something about fuck — the “outlaw” nature of it, maybe — that tickles me.
I'm going to give examples of (1) a person who was recently embarrassed (unjustifiably, I think) by fuck, and (2) a person who wasn't.
Example 1: Mojoey laments that he said fuck in the presence of a child, albeit one he didn’t know was nearby. I think his ruefulness is wrong. Apart from in elementary school classrooms and at Disneyland, fuck should be perfectly acceptable. It’s a signal from one adult to another that he or she is taboo-free and refuses to be a prisoner of prevailing social mores.
Example 2: I’ve always enjoyed listening to Cyndi Lauper. Any woman who can record an entire song about female masturbation rates pretty high in my book. On her latest album, Bring Ya to the Brink, there’s a number called “Same Ol’ Story.” The powers-that-be have chosen to let the public know that the cut is “explicit.” So, of course, I was curious. Well, it turns out that the title is not exactly a verbatim quote of what Lauper says over and over again in her lyric. Here’s what she does say:
It’s the same ol’ fucken story.Don’t you get a much better sense of what the song is about when I include the term omitted from the title? Am I wrong to find the singer’s anti-conventional attitude appealing?
Enough about fuck. There’s also Jesus Christ as an expletive, which many atheists, including myself, use freely. Again, we’re talking about a societal proscription: It’s bad to take the alleged lord’s name in vain, particularly when you yell it after you’ve stubbed your toe. But shouting JC's name has no more to do with believing in him than saying “it’s the same ol’ fucken story” has to do with asserting that the previous speaker’s tale was about sex.
I’m troubled by self-censorship. My attitude is: If people don’t like the way I fucking write, then Jesus Christ, they can stay away from my blog. That goes especially for you, kids!
I also hate it when someone says fudge, or intones Jiminy Cricket or Jeepers Crow, instead of what he or she really means. We all know what you’re thinking, pal; just come out with it.
There’s something slightly dishonest about saying fudge or Jiminy Cricket. But, really, it’s only mildly annoying, not terrible. What would be terrible would be to hear someone say, without a tone of irony, hooray when he dropped his ice cream cone, or fantastic when she banged her shin. Children, bereft of the power of expletives, cry when these things happen. Adults “curse.” A person who speaks a positive phrase in the light of either of these happenings would immediately be branded as a lunatic, or, at best, a liar.
Which brings me to my political point. We used to be able to depend on Barack Obama to say fuck and Jesus Christ — maybe not in so many words, but we knew what he meant — if someone had accused him of:
- being untrue to his commitment to public campaign financing;
- accepting the passage of FISA without a built-in telecom-immunity provision;
- wanting to propagate George W. Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives;
- tolerating handguns;
- allowing anyone to take away a woman's right to obtain an abortion if her well-being, either physical or mental, is threatened;
- expanding the circumstances under which the death penalty can be applied;
- reneging on his vow that, if elected, he would set a timetable for the removal of all American troops from Iraq;
- practicing exclusionary politics by, say, banning from his photo ops any women who showed up in Muslim regalia.
He says hooray.