In a world that has become so mind-blowingly politically correct, is it ever considered acceptable to curse? I don’t mean the whimsical phrases like poppycock or dagnabbit. Not even the Irish slang words like gobshite or knobjockey. I’m talking about the f-words, the c-words and the b-words.
I don’t know if I should be ashamed of the extent to which I curse on a daily basis. Most of the time, I think my sailor mouth is normal until a Downton Abbey type seems truly taken aback by my language (which is certainly not befitting for a young lady). I constantly find myself engaged in a torrent of expletives only to be alerted to the presence of a tiny Disney-eyed child whose parents are throwing me death glares. Evidently, I have just killed Dora.
I think it is a pretty black or white situation: either swear, or do not swear. Don’t chicken out and say sugar when you really want to say shite. I understand not wanting to take the Lord’s name in vain but I highly doubt Jesus Christ would care to be referred to as ‘Cheese and Rice.’ These types of people, the ones straight out of a Father Ted episode, are the real fupping baxtards.
Endearing though the phrase ‘Shut the front door!’ may be, sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes I need the harshness of the f-word to emphasise my emotion. And that’s the true element of a good curse word; it is a meter of expression, allowing others to understand how passionately you feel about something (or rather, dispassionately).
I remember the first curse I ever heard from a grown-up; Papa Bear emitted a thunderous “Bollix!” from the driver seat of the car. To be fair, the train level crossing gates had come down before the warning signal so I found it to be a rather apt reaction to the situation.
While the Helen Lovejoys of the world will plead for somebody to please think of the children, I see no harm in the extension of a young person’s vocabulary to allow the occasional swear. The more you prohibit them from turning the air blue, the more they will do so. They are going to push the big red button because it is a forbidden delight that is bound to evoke a response. Especially if you don’t lead by example and are likely to say “Hey, stop f***ing cursing!”
Seriously though, if swearing is used to convey emphasis or humour, and not as a derogatory slang, where’s the harm? Of course, this opinion must be shared by the parents in question, so when the child you’re babysitting for asks you what a wanker really means, it’s time to get the feck out. Head for Canada.