Tilting at Windmills 1 (tilting at expletive similes)

So this is different.  This is going to be small.  This shall have no picture.  Tilting at Windmills posts are going to be open letters [primarily] to the teens in my life.  They are going to address things that I know will never change but I have to take a run at anyway.  Here goes number one:

Expletives do not have feelings.

Neither fuck nor shit are valid references of comparison for how tired, angry, happy, crazy, sick, scared, etc. you are.

I honestly don’t mind you swearing so much as I mind you swearing stupidly.  Save it for when it actually means something.

About Aaron Mark Reimer

Aaron Mark Reimer was born in 1980 on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and his parents promptly moved him west to Ontario. He is a pastor, a writer, a speaker, a musician, and a bit of a geek. Published works include The Art of Being Broken, Worshipping Through John: A Devotional For Praise Teams, and a short story about going to Jupiter with his dad that he wrote when he was seven. He has one wife (Vanessa), two sons (Dúnadan and Taliesin), and many cats. Follow him on Twitter as @IAmAnErrorMaker

Posted on June 18, 2011, in Ramblings. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Did you know that “fucking” or “freaking” are the only words in English that can be used as infixes? That is, “absofuckinglutely!” In that sense, they are used for emphasis…

    • I believe that bloody also qualifies. Thinking through things I’ve said and heard, damn could fit, as well as “ma” if you’re just counting sounds. (guarandamntee or edumacation)

  2. I’m actually going to agree whole-heatedly with this one Aaron. For those who don’t know me, I am Mikey, I do know Aaron as we are good friends but for the record, Aaron and I disagree on most points. In this regard, cursing, I actually come to agree with Aaron after receiving some perspective. Some people view casual swearing as a point of friendship, as in ‘I feel comfortable enough around you to have you hear me talk like a sailor from the 40s or an angry street kid. Even though I look and sound like an immature 4th grader from South Park, I am going to pretend this is actually something intellectual for you and I to share.” There are also those who see it as a cultural thing, as in ‘Sure back when my grandma was a kid no one swore, but that’s just because they are old, and we are young, so by being young we’ve earned the right to speak like incoherent morons.” For me, I have always believed that swearing in your heart means you might as well be swearing out loud, which is why I’ll resort to an ‘F’ bomb verses using a ‘frig’ or I’ll use shit over shoot, to me it always sounded like if you were swearing with a fake swear it was more out of a fear of getting in trouble from your own morality (as instilled by some parental figure in early childhood) rather than actually trying to calm the word down.

    In this case, Aaron has specifically attacked phrases like “Man, it’s hot as fuck today,” and “Dude, that guy is crazy as shit.” And in this case, Aaron is correct. Much as that pains me to say. If you are going to be using an expletive in a place of a valid comparison it says two things to your potential audience: First it states outright that you are not intelligent enough to come up with a valid or meaningful comparison. Second it implies that you were brought up in either a setting with no moral fiber or in a setting that was so strict that you are now in need of some sort of pre-adolescent rebellion, either way it shows that your current state is one that lacks any sense of maturity or self-restraint. Using expletives in this fashion proves you are either dim-witted, childish, ignorant, uneducated or perhaps all of the above. For a child to want to prove their independence or their maturity by making a comparison of the days heat or the joy of their heart or their terror or their feeling of illness or anything else to a piece of excrement or to the act of sexual intercourse as in “I am scared as sex,” or “I am happy as a stool sample,” are actually examples of the contrary. The individual in question is not independent as they have grown dependent on the culture around them who, likewise, has proven themselves unintelligent and immature. When used in this sense, an expletive is meaningless filler, it stands in place of proper linguistic understanding and it promotes the idea that this base level of knowledge is satisfactory.

    Now, as for Aaron’s last sentence which states “Save it for when it actually means something.” This i can understand. An expletive is, in and of itself expletive. Allow me to clarify. If I am to say “Today is hot as fuck.” (Fuck being the more common expletive misused in this sentence.) Than I am saying that 33 degrees celcius is so hot that its completely unbearable, that today is the hottest it could possibly be. Now while we may feel this way at times, allow me to continue. After 17 straight days of temperatures being at 33, and me stating day after day that “Today is hot as fuck,” what do I say when day 18 is 42 degrees celcius? There is nothing bigger left to say, you have already used the largest emphasis to describe a much lesser (comparatively speaking) issue. Now take that to the next level, if I have a cough and a head cold and describe myself as “feeling like shit,” what do I say when I get cancer or any number of other diseases? my head cold was already at the maximum level of discomfort, I have already used my expletive, now that I am battling cancer (which, incidentally, I am. Not to make friends of enemy’s from this post just to justify my use of that particular disease,) I have nothing to say and the day that my chemo makes me “feel like shit,” I am essentially saying that cancer and treatment is no worse than a stubborn cough, sore throat and a headache that tylenol just can’t help.

    Now, I feel I have adequately supported all that Aaron said in his brief 4 sentences. There is one other far more annoying curse out there that tends to drive me crazy: FML. I have seen people of all ages and walks of life use this fun little acronym to symbolize annoyance as in, “My baby is sick today. FML.” or “The shoes I bought yesterday are now on sale. FML.” First of all, this usage is possibly the most immature usage of an expletive imaginable. I cannot begin to explain how angered I am by the first example, which, I took as a direct quote from someone’s facebook page. A mother who posted that about her child. No matter what my son has done to me today, no matter how frustrated I am with it, I would never say ‘fuck my life,’ as though my entire life was ruined because my baby has a fever. Nor would I say that my life is so meaningless that because I didn’t receive the top discount on my new shoes, it might as well come to an end (taken from a different facebook wall). This usage of of ‘fuck’ is not in anyway edifying to society, nor does it bring any sense of maturity or credibility to the one using it. Again, when the expletive is used in this sense it does little more than exaggerate whatever issue the author is actually pertaining to. If you are going to say FML, or Fuck My Life, then you are stating outright that your life is meaningless, worthless, useless, in light of the sentence that preceded it. So please, feel some sense of self-worth and don’t use the expletive fuck in this fashion.

    The point of all of this, and I must admit Aaron did a far better job summing it up than I did, is that an expletive, no matter which you choose to use should denote the very worst of something. I can’t imagine someone in public office or any high profile position receiving a pay increase and saying “Dude, I am happy as shit right now!” That simply doesn’t make any sense, and the person who uttered such a phrase would be publicly ridiculed for their incredibly low-brow, unintelligent exclamation. So please, in light of Aaron’s plea and in regard to my own, please save your expletives for when the situation warrants it. Then the day that you say “Go fuck yourself” to that guy who really deserves it, it will actually mean something.

  3. Here is an excellent documentary about swearing aptly named “Fuck.” It’s rather scathing in places, but also quite informative overall. Dispells a few myths about the origin of one of the most usable words in the world.

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