Friday, January 25, 2008

A Guide to Acceptable Cursing

Some people believe that swearing (or "cursing" or "cussin") is wrong at all times and in all places. More enlightened people understand that swearing is all about timing and context.

But when are those appropriate moments, the considerate person asks? And we admire them for asking. So it was with no small amount of deliberation that I approached this subject in order to understand and articulate what some thoughtful, sensible guidelines for swearing might be. What is, if you will, the natural law for cursing? Everyone one of us appreciates concision, so I hope that these guidelines will help us each of to curse more freely, allowing even those of who curse not at all to let loose with a blue streak, when they - now armed with these guidelines - recognize a situation, which allows for or even demands it. Without further ado then, 5 Guidelines for Acceptable Cursing:

1. When one steps outside and into unseasonably cold weather.

The most appropriate language for this situation? The adjectival form of word often mistakenly believed to be an acronym of "for unlawful carnal knowledge" followed by the colloquial word for Hades, plus the simple sentence, "It's cold." This sentence comports itself with elegant economy.

2. When someone disparages one's family or loved ones.

Or one's pets. Or one's belongings. Or one's self.

3. When a fellow commuter cuts you off in traffic.

As far a suggestions go, the obvious imperative grammatical structures come to mind, coupled, of course, with anatomical references in place of the usual nouns of address or proper names - especially considering one is unlikely to know the fellow driver by name. Tangentially, this guideline, more so than the others, also allows for demonstrative physical gesturing.

4. When one sees the President of the United States on television or hears him in a radio address.*

A corollary to this guideline was discussed at length: to wit, when a televangelist is seen in his (or her) native environs, should these sightings not be considered under the same principle delineated by guideline number 4? Or are the particular habits of the American televangelist peculiar enough to demand their own guideline?

5. When one sees a televangelist on television.

You'll note that specific suggestions are not provided for each guideline. This omission was intentional. Freedom to curse with great variety should be considered a right and creativity, encouraged.

*This guideline may be reviewed for relevance in early 2009.

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