Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday Sermon: Profanity and self censorship

Sometimes I find censorship funnier and more effective than swearing any wall... now go lick my *BLEEP*'s
Well last weeks Sermon was a bit of a beast, sorry about that, so this weeks Sermon will be a little bit shorter. This particular Sunday Sermon is brought to you via an article I read on the House of Paincakes, who gave me my spark of inspiration. You see I've covered the subject of profanity before on my Blog, when I wrote my Is Anger a Gift article in response to GMort at the House of Paincakes funnily enough. But in that article I did only very briefly touch on swearing, cursing or profanity, or whichever term you prefer. It focused more on general offensiveness of which profanity is but one aspect. I think though it's an interesting topic for discussion where Blogging is concerned, because as I pointed out in Lauby's 'musing' article, I often have to self censor myself during the proof reading stage of my articles. I do this to primarily ensure that as many wayward spelling mistakes and typos don't make it through, but occasionally I do it to remove swearing, most of the time I wasn't aware I used. I don't swear all that much on my Blog, because I think that swearing very rarely helps you communicate the point intended or indeed to do so effectively.

However, I have resorted to it from time to time. What interests me though is the fact that I resort to it far more often in my initial draft stage of my Blog than I would do with my own speech, or other forms of communication, as I said in the comments section of Lauby's article:

'I have to go back through my own posts and Blogs and I often find myself removing swearing, and cringing as I do. I rarely swear in public, and even in private with friends it's quite uncommon for me to do so. So it begs the question, why does profanity flow from my fingers so readily when it so rarely passes my lips?'

I personally don't think the reasons for this temptation are too mysterious though. In actuality it's as obvious as the nose on my face... which of course you can't see because this is the Internet. You'll just have to take my word for it, I have a big nose! And there you have the reason for me being able to swear like a trooper, or feeling emboldened to do so on the Internet, anonymity. The friend of freedom of speech and hate speech alike.

A very, very funny film.

The Internet and our Blogs give us all a nice veil of protection in our communications. I could be a vile foul mouthed ass hat, full of malice and hatred if I really wanted to be, and the Internet would allow me to distance myself from the effects of my words. To a degree. It wouldn't though diminish the impact of them upon others though. So I at least try to curtail my urges to degenerate into the foul mouthed cretin I know I could be on the Internet, because I think it's the right thing to do. I don't wish to exclude people because of the language I use, although excluding people on the basis of my reasoned opinion I'm happy with. I'm a strong believer of the power of Freedom of Speech, like Voltaire I would defend people's right to offend others and say what they please, while of course retaining the right myself to disagree with it vehemently. I applaud the House of Paincakes decision to allow Blogs into their network that say and do as they please, within the bounds of the law. It's the reason it was the first Blogging network I joined, but as a policy direction I guess for some it's an enticing 'offer' to go out and swear and be offensive.

Come on... who didn't think Battlestar was fracking awesome?

I can't do anything to enforce a level of decency on what other Bloggers write, and nor quite frankly would I wish too. As I said I'm a strong believer and defender of Freedom of Speech, but what I can do and what I can say is this, I'm going to try and keep the foul language off of my site. I'm not going to say I'll never swear, because lets be honest here, sometimes the odd word will slip through the old filter, and sometimes a constant stream of profanity is the only way to suitably communicate ones displeasure at something! Yeah, that's right, sometimes only a good swear word will do, but only in very rare circumstances in my experience. This is because the English language provides us with such a wonderful wealth of words and phrases with which, we can fully and properly articulate and express our opinions, beliefs and emotions. I for one would much rather exhaust their use first, certainly before reaching for the four letter words many of us seem to use as punctuation nowadays. Good God I'm starting to sound really old, or I just am getting old. I would urge all of my readers to do the same though, just try and keep the f@£%*^$ swearing down. Peace out!


  1. it friggin' Sunday already?
    Coulda sworn it was....not Sunday.
    Sigh...I'm confoozled.

    Ok...I'm fairly sure it's actually Sunday.

    I think 'friggin' is a pretty good word, but I still find myself tossing around the odd curse now and then.
    In RL I curse virtually every third word, but I'm fairly sure it's a Bronx thing.
    We do that.

    'Yo, did you see this F-ing guy over here?'
    'No, what did this F-ing guy do?'
    'I swear to Christ, this F-ing guy took on 30 F-ing cops, all by hisself!'
    'Get the F outta here, that's off the F-ing meat rack!'
    'Fer realz....F-ing cops tazed him, though.'
    'Damn, son....that's F'ed up.'
    'Those mother F-ers.'
    'Fer realz.'

    Sorta paraphrasing, but that's about the gist of it.
    I write better than I speak. I blame my city.

    If I toss about a bunch of curses in my posts, it's probably because I feel strongly about whatever it is I'm cursing over.

    1. Mate talking naturally in your environment you do what you do. I'm not talking about how you speak amongst your peers. It's more about communication of your thoughts via articles. I actually think you do a pretty darn good job of communicating an interesting, unique and effective voice online without ever really coming across as either rude, crude or foul mouthed. As I say, from time to time only an expletive will do. But I personally feel it's very rarely needed when writing an article. This is because we really have time to consider our position, and what we wish to say before publication, so strengthening the language we use without the use of profanity should be possible.

  2. Swearwords can be used well when it just nails that punchline, but I'm always conscious that some audiences will find an excess of swearing to be uncomfortable and distressing, if not outright offensive. When I know they don't mind (among certain close friends for example), I cuss every three sentences because it's cathartic to do so, and I'm relaxed in their company.

    Not sure if it's a regional thing, cause we swear a lot in Wales in general. Maybe it's because we're ethnic cousins to the Scottish or something and there's some shared blood... either that or all the Rugby we have to curse over.

    But, that said, I find that being purposefully snide and condescending (going further than your simple satire/cynicism/sarcasm) can voice your displeasure to a better degree than dropping the Cluster F-Bomb in every paragraph (obviously, it varies between the two methods depending on execution) - the only problem is it might make you look like more of a twat.

    1. Indeed, but I don't think being condescending is ever really very useful either. I'm also not talking about every day use of language in this article. I'm actually only really talking about Blogs, and what we write. The temptation to take communication to extremes when protected by the anonymity of the Internet is exceedingly tempting to be honest with you. I just think it's a temptation we should try to resist 99 times out of a hundred.

      On a secondary note, I have no idea but I thought for some reason you were American. I now have absolutely no frigging idea why I did but there you have it! So which part of Wales are you from? I know a lot of gamers from various parts of Wales. Perhaps somebody nearby to you? I myself reside in the West Midlands and am not too far away from the likes of Cardiff and Swansea, actually work used to take me to south Wales fairly regularly.

    2. Generally, if you're criticizing something, being matter-of-fact about it and presenting a clear argument a better way to do so in almost every way. It shows that you've thought about what you've said, and isn't a knee-jerk emotional response, and you can present your argument in a way that is clear and informative.
      But that only covers one kind of blog post, there are some who do it to entertain, and if they can pull off swearing to comedic effect in that way... well you've already voiced your appreciation for swearing via Malcom Tucker...
      And of course some write just to describe what's going on in their hobby recently, and if some want to swear to illustrate how annoying it was to pin this thing to that thing, if it's natural to them, so be it...

      Incidentally, I hail from a semi-rural village a few miles east of Carmarthen. To get around my area, you kinda need a car, or be at the whim of the ... not fantastic time-table wise public transport. Luckily, my sister-in-law's handing her old one to me, but no job means no money means no fuel. I still keep in touch with my old club in Aberystwyth, but it's not often I can justify the 2.5-hour bus journey to get there for 1 game of Dystopian Wars. Exactly once so far. And I can be a little* shy on first contact.

      *Denotes understatement.

    3. Knee jerk emotional response are fine too. I've posted one or two myself. It's rare that I do though. I do indeed like Malcolm Tucker, but where he's different if the fact that he's a fictitious character who is given context by those around him within a confined script and story. While I accept that for some people swearing is natural and part of who they are I have to be honest and say I've read a number of Blogs recently that have been littered with swearing that have sounded 'forced'. Perhaps it's because those Bloggers don't normally swear, but whatever the reason I found it sadly diminished their argument and articles. Also you might like to re-read this bit of the post:

      "I'm not going to say I'll never swear, because lets be honest here, sometimes the odd word will slip through the old filter, and sometimes a constant stream of profanity is the only way to suitably communicate ones displeasure at something! Yeah, that's right, sometimes only a good swear word will do, but only in very rare circumstances in my experience."

      As I say, I agree sometimes a good f*** is the only thing that will do. ;)

      As for being a little bit shy... mate most people I know in the hobby are a little bit shy. Let's be truthful here, for many wargamers going to their local gaming club or gaming store in their early teens was possibly the first time as a nerd/geek they felt at home and comfortable to a degree in their own skin. It's one of the great things about the hobby that it help build a bit of confidence and help build friendships. If you ever find yourself heading over towards Birmingham give me a shout and we'll meet up somewhere matey for a chat and a game.

    4. Will keep that in mind. :)

      And - I might have skimmed bits of it, soz.

  3. Glad to see you're a fan of In The Loop and The Thikc Of It! Very good stuff.

    1. Who the f****** hell isn't a f****** fab of In the Loop / The Think of it? Show them to me and I'll show you a f****** humourles w*****.

      Obviously done in my best Malcom Tucker voice. He's a bit of a hero of mine, the other being Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock being another.

  4. I've never said anything on my Blog that I wouldn't be entirely happy to say to somebody in the real world...swear words included...

    Of course that means I'm never going to get on the blog roll at the FTW Blog network but that's fine by me, lol.

    1. Yep and I'd defend your right to say what the hell you wanted too. It's just not for me is all. I think I'm better at getting across what I want to say without swearing like Malcolm Tucker. lol. Besides I'm not too sure I'd want to be part of the FTW Blogging network myself either, plus considering my last '40k' themed article apparently took a big huge dump on GW I'm not too sure they'd see that as promoting the 40k hobby. lol. My Blog doesn't fit their exceedingly narrow definition of 'the hobby'.

    2. You're not supposed to swear on the FTW Blog Network?
      .... Oops.

    3. Nope it's rule 4a or something. Apparently all Blog roll privileges are revoked if they find out and they'll slap you on you wrist and tell you what a naughty boy you've been.

    4. ... I can't remember if I did or not now... I generally write with a vaguely cynical view of my own work, which can lead me to swear, but honestly can't remember if I have or not.
      *goes to check*

    5. If they haven't banned you by now I'd humbly suggest you're alright. I have however heard of folks being kicked off of their Blog roll for an errant bit of profanity.

    6. I was told quite specifically that my blog was not the sort of material they wanted on their (well his, lol) network...I think they may have checked on the Tuesday that I'd posted a page full of pictures of half naked women linked to a House of Paincakes article I'd written called Fuck, Fuck, Fuckity, Fuck, Fuck.....

    7. @GMort, PMSL, yeah that'll do it every time matey. ;)

      My 'content' isn't considered 40k or GW friendly. I guess the fact that my highly critical review of Dreadfleet got more hits than they managed to sell copies doesn't help any either. lol. Now here I will swear... fuck 'em!

    8. I counted one swearword that was in a caption. I'm alrite.

      Conversely, my 'content' is barely GW. It's spread between Infinity, 40k, Fantasy, Dystopian Wars, HoMachine and LotR, probably in that order. But I suppose it's more hobby-based anyway and barely critical of anything save how hard something is to paint/stick together.

      Incidentally, HoMachine = hard as hell to stick together, and Infinty models > everything by GW.

    9. It really confuses me how that could be a qualifier to be on someones network. I guess that's part of the expectations of the network, but if the focus is a game where you simulate murdering other species' for fun... Then a little swearing seems tame.

    10. I don't like the idea of restricting what someone wants to or can say. I personally would hope that the majority of humanity has the common decency not to act like complete twazocks!!! But maybe not, but FTW Blog network wants to be GW and child friendly. I respect that, but I would respectfully decline to be part of any network that tells me what I can and can't say. I strongly believe only I should have the power over what I say and I get slightly grumpy about laws that tell me what I can and can't say.

  5. I claim the same defence as SinSynn - Australians swear a lot. I think it's because we learned english from the Irish lol. I read a linguistics paper that recorded Aussies swear several times more often than British speakers of english in any given time span. Our teachers swear, our parents swear in front of us, our TV is far more tolerant of cursing than US TV (or so visiting American celebs claim).

    So I just chuck 'em in there for emphasis just like I do in real life :D

    And give me a good old fashioned f-bomb over a snide/condescending barb any day. Ever since I was a kid, I fly into a rage when people condescend to me.

    1. I'm not at all for condescending remarks or belittling people. That to me seems far less 'honest' and straight up than just calling somebody a twat. I'm by no means a prude, but I do feel that the written word is very often miscommunicated and using such strong language can lead to some very strong misunderstandings. So if I let off New Yorkers (a breed apart I'm told), Aussies and Scots, not forgetting the Welsh and Irish... it's just Kiwi's, American's and the English I'm expecting to be pragons of civility, learning and prose? Hmm... sounds about right actually. :P

  6. Im Scottish, we cant help but swear, its in the language(we speak a variant of The Queens English called Scots, which is a separate and distinct language), even in high level meetings and in our parliament the words we use would often be considered curse words and naughty in some parts. But then in some parts you have to say Gosh and not God so that you don't offend, so different strokes for different folks. A great example of how ingrained what others consider swearwords are to the Scots language is the recent hurricane we had, swiftly christened "Hurricane Bawbag" because it was indeed a bawbag. The news that night led with the headline "Bawbag rampages across Scotland", I wondered If I had been drunk and forgot a riot...but they meant the hurricane, anyway....When I swear on Lines on Maps it is for purely comic effect, and as a reflection of the fact that we do swear a lot. I can write without swearing, but the punch and comedy are diminished somewhat. If I have a serious point to make, or the subject matter requires brevity(such as a review or something), swearing sure would seem inappropriate.
    Generally though, ah cannae be f***ed with the effort :P

    1. I'm not going to name name's because those who I felt were 'forcing' or 'faking' the swearing I've sent PM's too. If you feel swearing is part of your authentic voice, that's your prerogative. I however can't pull it off and probably wouldn't want to either.