Badassery Magazine June 2018 Issue 25 - Page 27

What follows my dear and long-suffering readers is an honest and frank discussion about words considered by many to be profane or vulgar. This is in no way meant to be a gauche or crass attempt to use obscenities for the sake of en- tertainment. While I present these terms with no apology - indeed, I would argue that none is need- ed - this is a “hot-button” issue for many people. * * * * * R iddle me this: What makes a word “profane?” Where does the line get drawn be- tween honest language and, in the words of Mr. Spock in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home “colourful met- aphors?” We have simple, direct words for acts like sleeping and eating, but for acts of reproduction, we limit ourselves either to cumbersome medical terminology such as cop- ulation, coition, or to such effusive euphemisms as love-making, inti- macy and so on. We have similar issues when describing the frank- ly universal act of expelling solid waste from our bodies: Evacuat- ing, passing stools, defecating, ex- creting and of course, “doing num- ber two.” Side Note: One must, in this in- stance, feel some sympathy for poor, put upon number two. How such an august member of our nu- merical system go t couched with the burden of our fecal deposits is frankly a mystery to me. Anyway, this kind of sanitized, eu- phemistic circumlocution reveals a deep seated embarrassment and a shame of natural bodily functions that borders on the unhealthy. On the other hand, words such as shit - and, it must be said - fuck, have an honesty and directness which betrays no such puerile embarrassment, nor do they suffer from excessive discursiveness. Let this piece of intel rattle about in your brainbox for a moment: What if we discovered a culture who expressed embarrassment over breathing, or stretching and yawning when tired, insisting that we use words such as “respire” or “pandiculate” to describe those acts? Methinks we’d chortle over our frappuccinos at such bizarre nonsense. It strikes me as equally bizarre and nonsensical (not to mention a little worrying) that we try to - linguis- tically at least - sterilize the act of sex, an act associated with plea- sure, joy and the creation of new life. Perhaps a historical example will illustrate my point more clearly. In 1960 Penguin Books was taken to court for the publication of the novel “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” by D. H. Lawrence. The prosecution maintained that the book had bro- ken the Obscene Publications Act due to its use of vulgar language, most specifically the word “fuck,” used to describe sexual acts be- tween the characters. During the trial, the sociologist Richard Hog- gart was called to testify to the lit- erary value of the book. He argued: 26