There are no swear words in this posting so read on in clear conscience. Yet today I learnt a new swear word. This from my grandson who heard it from a fellow grade 1 student.
I recall the copious swearing we indulged in on the mines of my youth. Analyzing these words in old age, I note that many related to human bodily functions, many to the behaviour of mother & sisters, and more of a nasty racial type and play on stereotypes.
Today, we hear almost no swearing, even on mines. The political correctness of society has invaded the mining arena and cleared our vocabulary of most of the swear words that enlivened our talk of past ages.
Some would claim this is for the better; some, including me, decry this clearing of our word-stock as a loss of color and verve in communication.
For I can swear as obscenely and as invectively as most, and I enjoy doing so. There is a poetry of swearing that is lost in the modern drive to drivel and avoidance of words that offend.
I have read that swear words light up parts of our brain that lie dormant when ordinary words are used. Swearing sets our brains in motion in ways that ordinary, dull speech does not.
I belive swearing is a necessary and instinctive part of our nature. This controversial testament is based on interaction with my four blood grandsons and three grandsons by marriage. The rule is simple: they may swear in my presence as long as they promise not to tell or use such words to teachers, parents, or women and girls. The boys delight in this exercise and do amazing verbal feat thus challenged. As the new swear word from the six-year old that I heard for the first time today. (email me if you would like me to send the word to you.)
I postulate that the avoidance of swear word has gone hand in hand with an increase in obfuscation and avoidance of the truth. Today I flew by way of three flights from Fort McMurray to Santa Anna. Yesterday I sat in meeting with peer reviewers on a big mine. I was disgusted by the many presentations I listened to. Not one included the use of a swear word and not one told the hard truth.
The peer reviewers were presented with good-news stories that amounted to a bunch of lies. Nobody had the courage to tell the hard and terrible truths. I decided to buck the trend. I put it on the line: you cannot do this; you will not succeed; the laws of physics preclude that conclusion; it is not practical or cost-effective to proceed thus.
There was a stunned silence. There were embarrassed coughs. Only one very bright manager came up and patted me on the back and said thank you, we will now act. The rest reverted to abject and servile platitudes.
Mining will not succeed if it does not reinstate swearing as a normal and acceptable mode of talking and communication. For avoidance of swearing goes hand in hand with avoidance of the hard issues that bedevile all mining.
At my grandson’s school in Southern California, they blather on about good speech, good behaviour, and kindness. Yet I insist that he do karate, learn to fight, encourage foul language, and seek to imbue a spirit of independence, questioning of authority, and disdain for the bullies of society who would have us conform to their dull perspectives.
Let me know what you think on this matter, and do so in honest and foul language.
PS. The picture and quote above come from a man I admired in the early 198os when I first landed in Tucson and worked there in the mining industry for two years. Thus I pay him tribute and note that I am sadended by his loss of civility in today’s political arena.
PPS> A long a interesting blog posting on this subject is at this link: http://kenthinksaloud.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/language-and-rights/