Monday, January 9, 2012

"Let us swear while we may, for in Heaven it will not be allowed." Mark Twain

For some reason, I find cussing quite perplexing... but that's to myself of course.

Let me qualify that opening statement by drawing some clear distinctions about what cussing actually is or isn't in my opinion.

In the inarticulate world of expletives, there are undefined categories that none the less draw obvious conclusions. While most people haphazardly lump cursing, cussing, profanity and vulgarity under an all-inclusive verbal umbrella, I challenge the notion as a mere bastardizing of the English language.

Cussing is not a form of cursing. The root meaning of cuss is generally defined as saying bad words. Therefore, cursing would actually be a form of cussing, as is also using profanity, vulagarity or any other inappropriate verbiage deemed by society.

To curse is to actually wish misfortune upon another person or persons. That's bad no matter how you paint it up. Besides...who are you to determine the eternal fate of any soul just because they might have cut you off in traffic one day. Seems a bit arrogant on your part to flaunt such an important task...again, in my opinion.

Using profanity is worse than cursing! Being profane is actually showing contempt for God Almighty by very definition. Whoa! Now we're on a slippery slope! While the subject matter of the eternal fate of one's soul is still fresh, you might want to give serious thought to the next Holy Cow, Holy #%$@ or Holy (fill in blank) that comes flying out of your mouth. By the way, Jesus doesn't have a middle initial.

Let me stop right here just a second. If you know me or read Tony C Today at all, then my background as a former Marine is no secret. While it's true that colorful language and service to one's country are somehow linked in the minds of the masses...well, okay...that's actually a pretty fair assessment. Not sure where I was taking that.

It's not as if the use of certain words, phrases or references to genealogy are taught as a course in basic training. As a matter of fact, I specifically remember a class given to new Marine officers at Quantico during The Basic School that discouraged the use of cursing and profanity when addressing other Marines and blatantly denouncing such use in front of the opposite sex. Chivalry still least in fairy tales and the United States Marine Corps.

Cursing the Army or the Navy, however,  was expected and encouraged. By the way, Marines consider the Air Force a civilian occupation.

I recall, unfortunately, an incident at my parents home while visiting on leave one Christmas while active duty. Raised as a proper Southern gentleman, the use of any word deemed inappropriate in front of one's mother is considered both tacky and crude. Unrefined by the very nature of the offense.  Even in the days when my language wasn't as sophisticated (read clean) as maybe it should have been, I never uttered words considered potty in front of either of my parents (take note young's a respect thing).  But on this single occasion, duty back in Hawaii called...literally.

Since this story happens prior to the plethora of cheap mass communition means of today, Ma Bell was my only choice short of a telegram to stay in touch with my command. As the Executive Officer, or XO, of a company of Marines at the time, discipline was my very business...and business was always open and a booming.  During one of my call backs, my prized customers (one Private A. Jones) was up to his usual shenanigans. After listening to his platoon commander fill me in on the details, I requested Private Jones be put on the other end of the line.

For the next 90 seconds, it was as if General George Patton himself possessed my every word. A dressing down of near-epic proportions ensued.

After hanging up the phone (which was attached to the wall thus limiting my mobility) and collecting myself, I walked back into the living room to find my terrified mother gasping in sheer disbelief. An unforgettable sight. My father, known for his on use of unseemly verboseness, was just staring at the floor fully aware of the humiliation I was about to experience from his own prior offenses. To my mother, you just didn't say words like:

@#%$ - under any circumstance,

#$%!@ -  just blasphemous and completely inexcusable,

&%$$@)@!?#^ - required a visit from Preacher Taylor and some form of absolution, and

*?#%&@!   @#*+!@ - well, you just didn't go there.

But, I had used them all during that rather short conversation in various forms from verb to compound adjective.

I felt great shame...and rightly so.

Today, I just don't use profanity. I also don't curse or dabble in vulgarities either, although I do understand the differences. Vulgarity is most often directly associated with bodily parts, functions and/or consequences thereof, and such language is taboo in the Tony C household because nothing is more embarrassing than your 4-year old squealing "Ewww, somebody farted!" while you're waiting to check out in line at the grocery store. Believe me...I've been called out.

For the record, Mrs. Tony C also doesn't actually allow any words or references dealing with flatulence other than excuse me to be utter in our home. Heck...I even have to spell s-t-u-p-i-d (not even cussing) if I ever use the word...which seriously diminishes the intended effect by yelling letters at the idiot that just cut you off in traffic!

Not to mention we house a teenager, and believe me, I think the word, among several others I must spell, quite often...

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Oh Thank you Tony for a good laugh! Too funny that Marines consider air force to be civilians (funny how my son in the army says the same thing about the air force...). Pleased to read that chivalry is still alive in the Marine - do they still tell Marines not to swear in front of females today?

I've noticed that in today's culture many young people use "bad" words as adjectives; I'm not so sure that my three sons don't sometimes join in this custom. But they at least know that they are never to use those words in our home.