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by Curt Kovener            

Swearing is controversial. Some believe that people who utter four-letter words are immoral, others call them crude, and still others view those who have a less than pristine mouth as uncivilized and annoying. For me, it keeps me from having a stroke.

On the opposite end of the cursing controversy, linguistic libertarians believe words are neither bad nor good. They believe free speech, including the right to verbalize rudeness, is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and that the only bad words are the ones that threaten to cause physical harm to listeners (yelling bomb on board,  or “Fire” in a crowded theatre, for example).

No matter where you stand on swearing, sensitivity to others is the key factor to consider if you have the urge to say anything stronger than “shuckie-durn.” Here are three things to consider before you swear an oath in audible range of others:

1. Know who’s listening to you. Cursing serves as a verbal expression of anger, frustration, or disappointment, but your customers, your mother, the police officer, or your pastor may not be impressed…unless they were career Navy. Then you can’t say anything the veteran hasn’t heard before.

2. Err on the discretionary side at work. Get a thesaurus and learn new ways of expressing yourself. What better way to disrespect someone than to use large flowery sounding words which they take as a compliment when actually you insulted them and their family lineage.

3. Or you could save it for later. If you must let loose with expletives, consider waiting until when you are alone in your vehicle to vent. When other motorists see you driving down the road enthusiastically swearing, they’ll think you’re just singing along with the radio on some heavy metal station. Admittedly, it is difficult after smashing your thumb with a hammer to wait until you are alone to express your sudden pain.

In my distant youth, I think it was my Granny, who got me a “Cussin’ Can”- a simple tin can with a slot in the top which had the following saying attached.

“If you say a little damn, place a nickel in the can. If you cuss one more time, that will cost you one thin dime. If you cuss more than you oughter, into the can you must place a quarter.”

If I’d have kept up with that through my life, I could have been retired by now Dag Gammit!