Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Censorship: ruminations on words of ill repute

Print by Brainstorm Print and Design. On my want list for my typography wall.

I've been thinking a lot lately about censorship. Until recently, my posts here would automatically get reposted to Facebook. In fact, it was darned near my only activity on the site. However, as the number of work colleagues "friending" me through the site increased and my connections to those on the site grew thinner, I found myself rethinking topics or language I'd naturally use in potential posts.

I was censoring myself.

Those who know me well know I'm wont to bite my tongue and don't always shy away from peppering my speech with a colorful word or two, so I couldn't help but be disappointed with myself when I realized I was holding back. Don't get me wrong. Very few posts tempt me to drop the f-bomb (if I get political, watch out). On the other hand, if I'm leery of posting a picture of my William Powhida print, I think that's cause for concern.

You see, these are simply words. It is us who give them special status, empowering them and deeming them unsavory. Are there hurtful, racist words I refuse to let enter my repertoire*? Absolutely. On the flip side, what did 'fuck' ever do to anyone? I want to take back the power we've given certain words.

Two events early in my childhood played pivotal roles in my view on curse words. The first time I ever learned that 'fuck' was a bad word was in 2nd grade. One of my new classmates was named Phouc. Not realizing how to pronounce it, I chose the phonetic route. I remember telling my mom and grandma about this kid one day and quickly learning this was a word I wasn't supposed to say. Later that year, my teacher, Mrs. Dodds, attempted to steal back the word's power by teaching us about its historic use.

Cut to several years later and me sitting in a church pew. I forget the overarching message the preacher was giving, but I'll never forget this one piece. He said that nowhere in the Bible did it say cursing was sin. That's because it isn't. They are simply words and, perhaps, a more ignorant way of expressing a thought. However, the words themselves aren't a sin to say but rather the intent behind their use. I couldn't agree more. I'd go out on a limb and say that 98% of the time I throw out a curse word there is no anger or evil intent behind the word (all bets are off if I'm driving).

*stepping down from soap box*

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest :-)

*Flinging the big words today. How you like them apples? ;-)

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