Friday, November 22, 2013

Insults, obscenities and foul language

I love insults, obscenities and foul language.

Have you ever thought that the world would be a better place without them? If we could all love each other and treat each other in the nicest way possible? I have. And it's a horrible world. It's either a world that has lost human feelings or a world of hypocrisy where we still think the same things but give each other snarly smiles while we really want to give each other the finger.

Humans are wonderful and yet at the same time, they're far from perfect. They're reprehensible in many different ways. It's just the way we are. And often enough, we get on each other's nerves and other people would be totally entitled to tell us that we've done something bad. Sometimes we deserve insults. Sometimes we deserve to be roughed up. And I'm not a masochist!

When we're on the other side of frustration, when we are the ones upset, we have a sense of outrage that cannot be adequately shared if we stick to correct language. Sometimes "bad person" is simply unfitting for describing what we think of someone and there's no better word to express our emotions than foul language.

Also, language is not static. The connotation of words evolves with how we use them. It's an illusion to think that if we stopped using foul language, it would be gone forever. Among mundane words, one would become the decent version to describe something while one of its synonyms would gain popularity to be used in a pejorative manner.

Finally, I think a bit of outrage is healthy. It challenges our preconceived notions. Just like debate. Which reminds me of Christopher Hitchens, who valued debate for itself. A dull life doesn't teach you anything while conflict pits you against new challenges that you may learn something from.


Insults, obscenities and foul language are not only useful but they're necessary and productive. Not all the time, of course. But I hope this article could challenge some people's preconceived ideas and make you think about it.

As a side topic, I don't like the way that American media tend to hide less than perfect language in a hypocritical manner. They'll refer to the A-word, B-word, C-word, all the way to the Z-word. But if they say "F-word" or just "F" for short, how is it different from saying "fuck"? It's what they mean and it's what they allude to with a very explicit unambiguous reference.

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