Drop the F-bombs

One writer’s argument for less cursing

Mark Drolette is a freelance writer from Sacramento who, apparently, gets crankier by the day

What’s with all the cursing anymore? I can’t walk 10 paces, it seems, without someone dropping an F-bomb, or firing off a whole artillery burst, in the course of coarse conversation. Young men, old men, young ladies, check it, women—kids, even!—think nothing of tossing around profanities like they’re, well, so many unwashed words. Hell (I mean, heck), profanity’s so pervasive, rumor has it the sailors union has filed a grievance.

And why not? One used to only hear talk of dicks on decks and docks. Nowadays, worse is blared on sitcoms. It’s not ’cause I hate cussing (’cause I don’t). Or because I’m old (though I am). I’ve done my share of swearing; just ask any of my three ex-wives. (On further thought, don’t.) But two major problems exist with everyone and their mother swearing at will (sorry to rat you out, Mom, but I told you enough with the potty mouth already): One, it’s just plain rude; two, there’s an art to cursing correctly.

That’s right, it takes talent to be properly profane, skills your average human just doesn’t possess.

Think I’m kidding? OK, try this: Next time you marry (what, not everyone does it serially?), insert the F-word somewhere into your ceremony and see how well that plays in the pews. Yes, I know: George Carlin could do it and get laughs. (That is, if he weren’t dead.) But you? Not so much.

Speaking of Carlin: Americans owe him much for freeing speech. He was a brilliant guy who (along with Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor) risked persecution solely for exercising his First Amendment rights, thereby paving the way for others to speak (and curse) at will. But I long ago tired of talentless “comics” getting the cheapest of laughs by lacing their acts with every obscene utterance (un)imaginable. I mean, how creative does one have to be to swear every other word? If that were the standard, Richard Nixon would have been funny. (Well, he was, but in an unfunny sort of way.)

But that’s not my complaint. I can always not go to comedy shows (which I don’t) or turn the channel (which I do). No, my gripe is people swearing everywhere! On the sidewalk recently, I heard some guy loudly cursing away on his cell phone. That was bad enough, but he had his boy with him, no older than 7. I refrained from saying anything for fear of being told to “F@#k off.”

By the boy.

At a Giants playoff game, I witnessed a hapless Phillies fan endure a barrage of nonstop profanity in a packed men’s room. Sure, ballpark razzing is standard fare, but this was over-the-top, foulmouthed harassment, base banter befitting only, say, a bathroom. Well, OK, so we were in a bathroom, but you get the idea. (Um, right?)

Look, I’m not some uptight fogy trying to impose his will on others. (OK, so I am. But just wait, young’un, till you get old and cranky.) I’m only asking folks to clean it up some. I know we’re all a bit on edge thanks to a wracked economy produced by soulless greedheads who’ve sent us swirling down the toilet, but that doesn’t mean we have to address each other like we fished our language from it, too. A suggestion: How ’bout we civilians be more civil and leave the salty talk to those best equipped to spew it?

I thank you, and the sailors f@#$ing thank you.