What exactly is wrong with swearing?
Posted on 2007-07-20
I would be very interested to hear how people have arrived at their own 'naughty list' of words. There is clearly a huge amount of variation in what people find unacceptable in terms of word usage, so how do you decide which words are OK and which ones are bad? What is the harm in allowing people to express themselves in whatever manner they see fit? Is it reasonable to censor people based on your own personal opinion about what people should be allowed to say, when everyone draws the line in a different place?
I asked this question on a newsgroup a while back and was told that swearing means that:
(a) you have lost the argument because you feel the need to resort to it and;
(b) you must have a more limited vocabulary.
(a) seems like a bizarre assumption because people who swear a lot are often perfectly capable of making a valid point amongst the swearing. As for (b), knowing more swear words would seem to imply possession of a wider vocabulary. Are there any more watertight moral arguments for self-censorship? Do any moral arguments carry weight when the acceptable limit changes with each generation?
Please note that I'm not expecting a list of examples of acceptable or unacceptable language. I have no idea if EE have an official list of banned words, but chances are that sort of thing will result in a stern email. I'm not trying to foment civil disobedience here :-)