What’s the big deal about swearing?
“Just remember, Huck Finn swore a ton and it was awesome.”
I was talking with a friend the other day who didn’t understand why we make such a big deal about not swearing in front of children. He said that since “everyone swears when they grow up anyway…what’s the big deal?” And he brought up the example of the much-beloved Huck Finn who cussed non-stop (to the delight of most but not all readers.) I gave a few pat answers as to why I don’t, but then I thought about it some more.
Why is it such a big deal?
Is it protection of innocence? Could be part of it. Or maybe rite of passage? Sort of a linguistic separation between childhood and adulthood, or the verbal equivalent of sneaking some of Dad’s scotch from the liquor cabinet? Why do we make such a fuss about cussing? It can be rude if overused. It’s best not hurled at anyone. But the way I see it, it’s like salt. Too much is unpalatable, but without any–flat and boring.
I decided I needed to go to an expert on the subject:
“The idea that no gentleman ever swears is all wrong. He can swear and still be a gentleman if he does it in a nice and benevolent and affectionate way.”
“There ought to be a room in every house to swear in. It’s dangerous to have to repress an emotion like that.”
“When you’re mad, count four; when you’re very mad, swear! But most of us don’t wait to count four! at least I don’t!”
“Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”
“Let us swear while we may, for in Heaven it will not be allowed.”