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Profanity Reconsidered

By amazing in Op-Ed
Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 08:51:59 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

What's so bad about cunt?

A simple word, but yet one that would practically ensure that the person who said it never worked on TV again.

[editor's note, by rusty] When it became clear that this was likely to be posted, I changed the title. Nothing else was altered.


The reason I ask this is in honor of the South Park movie, which I recently saw. The thing I found amusing about it was that they had a song about how the little children shouldn't swear, and the song went 'don't say fuck, because that's the worst thing you can say'.

I found this rather ironic, given that the point of the film was to be offensive, but, incredibly, it appears that using the word 'cunt' would get the film banned, so they pretended that, in fact, 'fuck' is the 'worst' thing one can say.

What is it that is so bad about the vagina? Why, as it appears, would the word 'cunt' get a film an X certificate, whereas something like Lethal Weapon, filled with violence, would get away with an R?

Does this say something about our society, where a simple anatomical word can cause greater offense than murder?

I think it would be better for everyone if these words were effectively neutered; I certainly do not see anything wrong with 'cunt's (the word!) on TV. It is only by allowing onesself to be offended that these words gain power. For instance, I believe that those little old ladies who take mortal affront at the children on the bus, deliberately trying to offend them, would be better off ignoring it - by doing so, they are better off, since they have one annonyance removed from their life.

Furthermore, and rather more fundamentally, why is it that the most offensive thing in our society refers to the female pudenda? Doesn't this just show how far we have to go before we have any sexual equality? Or is it just part of the repressed sexuality (that is so misguided that an anatomical word is somehow more offensive than rape or death) that has been with us since Victorian times, and which leads to all the sexual hangups, violence and inequality in our society?

PS. The poll is in honor of South Park.

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Poll
... fucker
o Horse 4%
o Pig 20%
o Mother 11%
o Uncle 48%
o Stupid 9%
o Ugly 6%

Votes: 324
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Profanity Reconsidered | 150 comments (125 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
I was thinking your article was too offensive (3.73 / 15) (#2)
by TuxNugget on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:21:27 PM EST

... but then I realized that this just reinforced your point.

Exactly! (3.20 / 5) (#3)
by amazing on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:27:30 PM EST

You hit the nail right on the head.

Yes, it is offensive, at least by our standards - I gave it a rather bald title - just 'Cunt', to make my point - if you thought (and I imagine a lot of people did) 'Oh my God, we can't have language like that', then you need to ask yourself: 'Why?'.

Why can't I say cunt? And why were you instinctively offended?

[ Parent ]
lots of stuff is offensive (2.66 / 3) (#6)
by TuxNugget on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:31:45 PM EST

A one word title of 'dick' or 'shit' or 'fuck' or lots of other things would also get voted down, perhaps deservedly. Penis birds were cute for a while on slashdot, but I suspect a title involving the penis bird might not fly on k5.<P>

So I guess I am not that disciminating about what offends me. I just didn't feel like playing the censor. <P>

Should be interesting to see how this article turns out. I'll note that Rusty voted against it.


[ Parent ]
because.. (3.60 / 15) (#8)
by rusty on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:37:38 PM EST

That particular word actually does offend me, which is pretty rare. I can't offhand think of any other words that, even devoid of context, just make me flinch. But you're a little disingenuous in your writeup-- it's not just a "simple anatomical word" at all. I doubt it's ever been used in a purely anatomical way. It is an extremely ugly word-- short, harsh, brutal. It is never used in a positive way ("Good old Audrey! What a smashing great cunt she is, eh?" ... I don't think so). It is probably the harshest of a whole class of words that represent "women" as a whole in a negative way by referring solely to their genitals (implying that that's all there is to them). In short, it's the kind of word rapists love. That's why it bothers me.

So, given that explanation, do you have a good reason why I shouldn't be offended?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Good Old Rusty... (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by greyrat on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:04:51 PM EST

...What a cool |pecker|tubesteak|prick|cock|piece of meat|etc...| he is!

I don't know. is that any more or less offensive than the reference to Audrey? And yet I know women who refer to men, including their boyfriends/spouses in just such a way. What I want to know is why is it offensive to you? BTW, I do not use the 'naughty' words in this thread, but that doesn't mean that I have to be up in arms about them. And using or not using a particular word does not mean that a person thinks of another negatively or positively. It's just as likely for an eloquent person to be a rapist as not.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
The word in use in my group of friends... (none / 0) (#55)
by naasking on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:03:32 PM EST

...What a cool |pecker|tubesteak|prick|cock|piece of meat|etc...| he is!

hehe... As soon as I saw this I remembered how my circle of friends refers to their girlfriends. "So, how's the beef?" Yup. Not exactly endearing is it? But it has the same effect as what you just said, if not more. Perhaps because it's referring to a woman? It's not particularly offensive in the way it sounds like 'cunt' in the article, but it embodies the same principle or view towards women.

Someone mentioned that Rusty had voted against this article because of this degrading reference to women. I would vote this article UP for the exact same reason, and I would add that this subject is worth discussing even if it is offensive to some or all. "It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it." (Joseph Joubert) After all, provoking thoughtful discussion is what Kuro5hin is about right?

I think that about sums it up. :-)


[ Parent ]
reclaiming words (3.50 / 6) (#20)
by Mr.Mustard on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:26:18 PM EST

While I do agree, rusty, that this particular word does have a strong negative connotation for many people, I think it's also important to point out that some people have "reclaimed" it. Betty Dodson talks about this in some of her books. She realized, in the 1970's, that words are just words and they only have the meaning and power that you give them. She decided to "take back" that meaning and started to use this word to mean what she wanted. A way to refer with love and reverence to the female genitals. Granted, she is a little more extreme than your average person, but the idea is still valuable.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. Other groups have reclaimed and redefined words that once held a strong negative stigma, even within the group. I'll leave examples as an exercize for the reader. =)

This kind of word stigma haunts us. The censorware that my company uses blocks anything with a "bad" word in the URL. Are the words really wrong? No, but they have been used in a context that has been chosen as being wrong. One of these words is "couples".


Mr.Mustard [ fnord ]
[ Parent ]

Bugger (4.25 / 4) (#25)
by Spendocrat on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:45:27 PM EST

Bugger, AFAIK used to be quite an offensive word. Any usage of the word in a Monty Python sketch just serves to make it hilarious, and doesn't offend anyone I know, at least (not even my late/living grandparents).

"Right old bugger" - funny.

"Right old cunt" - oooh, not funny, at least not yet. I imagine at some point in the future it will be, given current trends.

My hope is that we move towards a society where offense is taken from semantics and meaning, instead of syntax regardless of context. I *should* be more offended when someone calls me intellectually dishonest than when they blindly call me an ass-pirate.

[ Parent ]

bad form (4.00 / 3) (#63)
by interiot on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:46:00 PM EST

In short, it's the kind of word rapists love.

It's bad form to say something that will almost surely elicit an emotional response, but adds no new logical arguments to what you just said.

[ Parent ]

Logic? (3.50 / 2) (#107)
by rusty on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:16:55 AM EST

I don't see where logic comes into it. I can't logically explain why it offends me-- it's an emotional response. I was explaining the associations it has for me in an attempt to figure out why I'm offended.

I'm not trying to convince you that you should or shouldn't be offended too, or argue either way. Logic is not the only thing in the world.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

A little bit about the rating system. (3.16 / 6) (#7)
by Sheepdot on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:33:50 PM EST

Believe it or not, but the rating system is not law.

I think the question we should ask here is not whether or not words like "cunt" and "fuck" are worse than violence, it should be, why do we have a voluntary movie rating system that every theatre seems to abide by. There is no penalty (as far as I know) if a theatre lets a 15 year old into an R-rated movie. The rating system was developed for parents to use to see if their kids were old enough to watch a particular movie and if the movie was of a kind that they may or may not like.

To me, the only way for people to start loosening up on words is if they just quit letting words bother them. This goes back to a post I made for a different story about most countries, the Unites States imparticular, being way too emotional for their time. Until this country itself changes, we are going to keep tabooing words that wouldn't be bad if they had not been tabooed.

For a history of the ratings system, go here.



Only partially true (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by michaela on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:53:52 PM EST

It starts with the filmmaker and production houses. They are not required to have any of their films rated. Theaters will choose to show them or not show them based on whatever policies they may have in place. On this we agree.

Where we differ is in "no penalty...if a theatre lets a 15 year old into an R-rated movie." There are city, and in some case state, ordinances regarding what movies minors may see unaccompanied. In a way it's like the drinking age. Each state can set its own drinking age. There is significant coercion on the part of the federal government to use their standard, but it's not required.
--
That is all
[ Parent ]

Intent (3.50 / 2) (#17)
by Sheepdot on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:13:08 PM EST

I was talking strictly about intent of the rating system. Yes, it is true that different areas of the United States actually go so far as to make the rating rulings law, but the intent of the system was to be for parental guidance.

However you do have an extremely good point since it was most likely the parents that passed the ordinances and made it law.


[ Parent ]
Kind of (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by interiot on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 04:47:26 PM EST

Most companies wouldn't purposely put ethics ratings on their products if it weren't for the government.[1] As I understand it, self-imposed voluntary ratings systems are put in place in reaction the the federal government threatening to set legal standards for what's acceptable. Neither side wants that[2], so the particular industry self-imposes a ratings system. And there's an unstated agreement that the government may have to step in if a lot of parents complain to their congressmen that the industry isn't doing a good job of regulating itself.

So, while there may not be immediate legal ramifications to not enforcing the ratings system, there's a far-off threat of legal enforcement.


[1] Granted, movie ratings are sometimes used as advertising to attract more people, so there is an upside. The large downside is that once a clear ratings system is established (eg. R means that those under 17 shouldn't be admited without an adult), others can put political pressure on the sellers to enforce their own rules. So they'd rather use poorly defined descriptions if the only purpose is advertising.

[2] For the industry, it's too strict and hard to change if technology or culture changes. For the government, there are questions of constitutionality, but that won't stop grandmothers from complaining.

[ Parent ]

You know... (3.88 / 9) (#11)
by greyrat on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:49:52 PM EST

...it's amusing to me to note that you could rewrite this article for almost anything someone finds offensive -- say, flag burning -- and have pretty much the same conversation around it.

Somebody's always offended by something. The items that get attention are the ones that offend the majority.

+1 to section
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Blame the Church. (1.75 / 8) (#14)
by simmons75 on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 01:58:25 PM EST

They're the ones who sought to replace fuck, shit, piss, cunt, etc. with Latin words. Just another example of the Church seeking to obliterate cultures.
poot!
So there.

what church? (3.85 / 7) (#26)
by AtomZombie on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:54:00 PM EST

'blame the church'. i hear it everywhere and it is starting to really get on my nerves. i am an atheist myself. i don't particularly care for practicing a religion. but sweeping comments like 'blame the church' only perpetuatethe same kind of bigotry people claim 'the church' has for people who don't believe in the same things.

and what church? the church of satan? the catholic church? the church of the red museum? the christian scientists? i don't remember them attempting to replace swear words with Latin. i am going to assume you mean the catholic church. does that mean that anyone who is offended by swear words is so because the catholic church doesn't like swears? i've known members of the church of satan who take offense at these words, and definitely not because their church or any other church told them to take offense.

and how are swear words 'a culture'? this isn't a native language we are talking about. these are slang words, entirely unrelated to eachother, holding as much cultural significance as the French merd or name your favourite dirty word here. attempting to obliterate a culture involves a takeover of fundamental values of a culture, mounting your own on top, then supressing any traces of the culture that might be left. very few churches do this in modern times. definitely not the catholic church, although in the past they have done their share of 'crusading'. this is far more serious than trying to get rid of few words not everyone likes.

subjective comments like this are what feeds the fuel of unenlightenment and prejudices.


atomic.

"why did they have to call it UNIX. that's kind of... ewww." -mom.
[ Parent ]
I'm probably going to be hit for this... (3.25 / 8) (#18)
by Mandos on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:15:30 PM EST

...but I am an unapologetic prude. I feel that "taboo" words fulfill an important social function beyond just the basic "protecting children's innocent little minds" business. That is, they are markers that remind people that there are limits on decency. If you don't feel that standards of decency (some standard) is a good thing, then there isn't much I can say to you; but the people who feel that way tend to be the sort who "rebel for the sake of rebellion." As well, the attempt to avoid the words requires some effort when writing about the actual topics. I don't object too much about prurient topics, but I wish they would be discussed with decorum. And I think the effort to insert that decorum not only forces the writer to think, but often produces some very witty results. The current trend to just *expose* everything is really an abdication of that effort to be intelligent and witty. So I'm repressed. Sue me. *grin*
---------------------------------------------------------

`o Mandos `o tyrannos tôn 'exoterikôn

'cunt' in spanish (2.25 / 4) (#22)
by AtomZombie on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:31:56 PM EST

if i am not mistaken, and i could possibly be, 'cunt' is a mexican spanish term meaning something to the effect of 'holy well' or 'grotto'.

see, nothing wrong with that! :)

spanish speakers correct me if i am wrong!


atomic.

"why did they have to call it UNIX. that's kind of... ewww." -mom.
Nope (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by Ryan Koppenhaver on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:05:23 PM EST

I'm not a native spanish speaker, but...

  1. "cunt" is not listed in my (pretty comprehensive) English/Spanish dictionary as a Spanish word.
  2. The Spanish translation of the English word "cunt" is "coņo", which is about as offensive as it's English equivalent.
  3. Merriam Webster Online gives the origin of "cunt" as "Middle English cunte", whereas "coņo" is most likely derived from Latin.


[ Parent ]
not in dictionary (2.00 / 1) (#48)
by AtomZombie on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 04:48:39 PM EST

yeah, i looked it up too. but i am sticking it out with this one!! i know i heard about this somewhere! i work with someone from mexico so tomorrow i'll have to ask him. but i guess until then i will probably assume you are right. :)


atomic.

"why did they have to call it UNIX. that's kind of... ewww." -mom.
[ Parent ]
Typical misguided americans (2.14 / 14) (#23)
by Nickus on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:34:55 PM EST

The thing i really love about USA is their misguided attempts to protect the public. You can't buy alcohol mister but how about a shotgun? No, you are not allowed to swear in public but you are allowed to wear a weapon in public?

And it will be even better when Bush wins the presidency (I believe so.. although this court (cat?) fight has been really fun to watch). Takes you straight back to the 18th century.



Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
You've been watching too many movies... (3.75 / 4) (#27)
by lucas on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 02:59:53 PM EST

I love these generalizations... I even lived in Texas for 7 years and knew, maybe, two people who had firearms and used them for hunting. According to the European media, you would think that everyone carried an assortment of exotic weaponry.

Why don't you actually *live* here before you start making ignorant troll postings?

Perhaps you didn't know, but there is life outside of Hollywood and American/European media coverage.

[ Parent ]
History of the word? (2.66 / 3) (#28)
by daystar on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:01:05 PM EST

I read in a book... probably a Tom Robbins book, but I don't know any more.. that the word cunt was derived from the same place as the word COUNTRY, and had a warm, maternal meaning. Like HOME. If that's the case, then cunt is just another fine word that's been unjustly maligned.

Near as I can tell, though, it's NOT the case, since the word country comes from either the english "contree" or from latin, and cunt comes from the english "cunte" or from german. Oh well. Another beautiful theory that falls apart under the mildest scrutiny.

Fuck.

As a side note, my girlfriend thinks it hilarious to scream "CUNT!!" at people in traffic. She's a hoot.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
I once heard... (3.00 / 3) (#31)
by teeheehee on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:06:14 PM EST

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, as this came from word of mouth and I've had some difficulty trying to validate this, but I believe the word 'cunt' was once socially acceptable. I believe it was during the middle ages...

That aside, the dictionary.com definition clearly states the word to be a "disparaging term for a woman." Do we really need to flaunt this? I would place this as a word as taboo as ni**er, which I wouldn't mind seeing less of.

I like the argument brought up that if one resorts to words of weakness than their arguments are weak. I don't like the censorship that goes on (far too often), but to each a place and time, people. When do we really need to hear/see that word used (as it's intended)? Words like 'fuck' have multiple uses, even multiple meanings, but 'cunt' usually means only one thing, and although it is a full-sounding word, it's derogatory.

I think it would be better for everyone if these words were effectively neutered; I certainly do not see anything wrong with 'cunt's (the word!) on TV. It is only by allowing onesself to be offended that these words gain power.

Once we desensitize words and meanings we create a void in ourselves. It becomes easier to use something of strong meaning in places where it can lead to confusion or undue alarm. Is there something wrong with feeling offended by certain words? What happens to the shock value of them if their meaning is disassociated from their connotations? You mentioned rape as being more offensive, however it is used so widely that people are numb to it... should we continue the trend until no one feels bad about anything anymore? What of our morals, then?!

I don't feel it's wrong to FEEL that certain words shouldn't be used in most circumstances... I would feel it's wrong to ACT on it, though. (There was a story recently about the second person arrested in some mid-western US state for swearing in the ear-shot of children, which there is a law against, but I couldn't find a link to it).

Then again, there's something to be said about the amount of emotional damage that MAY be caused by improper use of a word. I've been called many names, not a lot of pleasant memories accompany those names, and though I try to let slide any re-occurances of the word (in completely different context) it still raises my hackles when I hear them. For some people that is enough to cause such stress that they have to lash out... your ignorance in using those reserved words has caused some repressed behavior to come out. You could say "Just deal with it," but who gives you the control to mentally stab them when all they want is the respect to be spoken to with quality speech and no drivel? You may swing your vocal fists all you want, but once you connect with something you're no longer using "free speech", you're being a prick. (No laws against that, I know, but is it NECESSARY?)

Of course, I'm a guy, so I don't fully know the effects of the word. I would be interested to see what some of the femmes here have to say about this matter...

However, under the current title/arguments, I had to vote -1. I'm almost sure that as it's posted it could get tons of flame, if it were reworded it might make a more presentable argument and would attract less flame. The idea is there, but the presentation is a bit lacking for me...

(Discordia) :: Hail Eris!
Everything you've just read was poetry and art - no infringement!

It's losing effect (3.83 / 6) (#34)
by enterfornone on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:22:29 PM EST

When I was in primary school I was put on detention for saying bum. I recall a newsreader being fired (late 70s early 80s I think) for referring to "the damn weather".

These days (in Australia at least) you can say shit on the news and fuck on the radio without getting fired. I think cunt will be the last to go (although I think cunt being the worst of all is mostly an American thing, Warren Ellis I think mentioned that the English use it liberally yet he was not allowed for use it in Hellblazer, an American comicbook set in England).

Despite their claim to being the home of free speech, Americans are the worst when it comes to language censorship. I remember hearing a US radio edit of Everlast's What It's Like where they censored such offensive words as "green".

But I think for the most part, people are a lot harder to offend these days. I guess it's the whole desensitisation thing, I don't even flinch when I accidently click goatse.cx, I've just seen it too many times to find it offensive anymore.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.

John Constantine's dirty mouth (none / 0) (#43)
by Rand Race on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:50:00 PM EST

although I think cunt being the worst of all is mostly an American thing, Warren Ellis I think mentioned that the English use it liberally yet he was not allowed for use it in Hellblazer, an American comicbook set in England

I remember Neil Gaiman mentioning that one of DC's editors wouldn't let him have Constantine say 'fucking hell' so he changed it to 'felching heck' and they let it slide. By all accounts the word 'felch' is far more offensive than the word 'fuck' but is far more common in England than in the states which is why they probably didn't catch it. (Common in usage that is, I have absolutely no idea about the reletive commonness in practice... nor do I really desire such knowledge ;)


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson
[ Parent ]

comic language (none / 0) (#58)
by enterfornone on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:12:24 PM EST

Chamber in Gen-X (a comic code approved book) has on a number of occasions used the word wanker.

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Reason for +1 (3.11 / 9) (#35)
by motty on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:25:47 PM EST

something actually a little bit challenging. something that actually makes a few people feel a little uncomfortable. something that requires the thoughtful k5er to think about something not as an abstract define-it-in-terms-of-this-or-that thing, but as an omigod-this-makes-me-react thing. i'd have been less certain of the +1 had it not been for the most powerful and pithy headline i have seen here yet.

and if you think the intention was just to offend, then there is no point in me suggesting that the whole point of the article is to probe a little into why. why is it that the so-called 'worst' word is that word particularly? is the reaction it is evoking in you causing you to make whatever decision you need to make in order to avoid actually thinking about the issues raised? if so, fine, but let's not pretend that isn't what's happening. if you're still reading this, there's also other stuff going on too. and there is. shedloads of it.

cutting to the quick, to coin a phrase, in the case of the word 'cunt', it's all about who's saying it. when a bloke says 'cunt' and when a woman says 'cunt' it is as if they are using two different words. perhaps they are. rusty may equate a male use of the word with the attitude and mindset of the male rapist, but this is a subjective view, and not one i share. i personally find it to be among the most satisfyingly expressive of the anglo-saxon cusswords - not one to be overused (and thereby diminished), and certainly one to be careful with. although i may not understand wholly why some people find it quite so offensive, i do appreciate that they do find it so and then some...

i wouldn't actually equate it with a nuclear missile though. the word 'cunt' is not going to destroy the planet. it could even save it, and there are those who argue exactly that. i found this academic dissertation on the word 'cunt' without too much trouble, and there's a whole raft of stuff out there that is unafraid to confront whatever it is the hell goes on with this word and with people's heads.

it's also - who or what is it used for? can men only use it as a way of either expressing abstract momentary rage or as a direct insult? in my experience it is almost invariably used by men to refer to other men, not to women, or to their anatomy. perhaps that's just a uk thing, or perhaps that's just my skewed experience, but it seems to make sense to me. i might call a woman a bitch or a cow, but i wouldn't dream of calling her a cunt. it wouldn't make sense to me, no matter how pissed off i was. it just doesn't actually work as an insult on a woman. not to me.

i would and have called a bloke a cunt, though. under the right circumstances i would call them a complete cunt, depending on exactly how much of a complete cunt they actually were. it works as an insult when applied to a guy, because it goes either one of two ways. if you allow the origin of the word to filter into your head you are making a simple effeminate=inadequate-male equation (crass, yes, wrong, yes, but there); if you do not, you still get that immediate saxon monosyllable thing that has as much relation to the actual meaning of the word in this transitive form as its intransitive (bastard) brother 'fuck!'

on the other hand, some women i know have deliberately used the word as their everyday word for that part of their anatomy and never used it as an insult at all. it just becomes another noun, albeit one that still has a wide gender imbalance in how and when it can be used. what's weird then is trying to have a conversation where only one of you is allowed to use some of the words. joining in, and allowing yourself to use it as just another noun can be liberating, but tricky...

other women i know simply use it as an insult in a similar way to myself, but even then, i cannot remember a single instance of anyone - male or female - calling a woman a cunt as an insult - after all, if you are trying to insult someone who is worthy of being insulted, it is generally a mistake to refer to the more positive things about them.

i am a straight male. to understate the case with regard to any imaginary all-time league tables of human anatomy would be pointless. how can i insult someone by referring to... no matter how indirectly... their cunt?
s/^.*$//sig;#)

It's no worse than the others..... (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by blixco on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:37:31 PM EST

In another ten years, I'm sure we'll be as desensitized to it as we are to the other words you mention. It's not used all that often (though I've noticed it's used in the UK a bit more often than the US), but will eventually make it's way into our language. I'm sure there are a few linguistics majors here in K5 that can explain the process better.

As far as the "seven forbidden words" on TV and radio, there is a broadcast standards group that determines that which is verboten, and they are *very* human about the choices...in other words, the choices are driven by emotion and not by data. They aren't open to debate and may not reflect popular society (look at any TV in the sixties and early seveties for an example). Entertainment is held to a completely arbitrary standard. The movie ratings in this country are a perfect glimpse of the fifties mentality at work: violence is A-OK, but sex and "overly foul" language are not. Never did make sense, never will. The best bet: don't support popular media.

-------------------------------------------
The root of the problem has been isolated.
Actually... (3.57 / 7) (#39)
by BOredAtWork on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:45:01 PM EST

..."cunt" is allowed in movies, even those of the R or possibly PG-13 variety.

My girlfriend recently badgered me into renting a movie with Whoppi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore and another lady in. I think it was called "boys on the side" or something. Anyways, Whoppi is a lesbian, who teaches the other lady (whose name I can't recall) to loosen up, by using 1001 words for vagina. 'Cunt' is in there numerous times, and the scene was hilarious.

The movie was carried at Blockbuster, and I'm sure it only had an R rating. I think the most "objectionable" scene was a briefly topless Drew Barrymore beating an abusive boyfriend to death. Without that, it probably would have seen PG-13.

Trolling the submission bin? (2.70 / 10) (#40)
by TuxNugget on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:45:28 PM EST

After reading the librarian's comment about not wanting to see k5 censored for certain words appearing in the headlines, I had some second thoughts about my initial reaction to this article.

An earlier submission, in meta, asked "is submitting an article really the same as posting it?" For many, the submission bin is the first thing we click on and go read. The rest of the site, is, more or less, old news.

Now put your aluminum space-ray protector cap on, and go into paranoid rant mode. If you really wanted to mess with the dignity of K5, its ability to attract bright young minds, etc..., where would you attack? The submission bin, of course. It is the first thing people see, and lots of people read it, If it contains sick shit, and nothing else, people will start to go away. The single word title, which the author claims for shock value, does exactly that. It gives the appearance that K5 just has garbage today, and you should come back tomorrow.

Netizens attitudes about censorship actually promote this kind of an article as a trolling device. Think about it. I bet this article will stick in the queue a long time, because those disgusted but against censorship will just balance out those who see the article as trash. And while it sits forever in the submission bin, the flow of good stuff will go down.

Or maybe I'm just paranoid. Opinions?

Not a troll (2.66 / 3) (#41)
by Elendale on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:48:21 PM EST

Its more flamebait than a troll. I'm guessing, however, the K5 crowd more flame-retardent than some *ahem* other online communities.

-Elendale
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
nothing sick here, move along (4.25 / 4) (#44)
by motty on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 03:52:59 PM EST

what's sick about discussing some of the ways in which the entire English language well experiences repression and emotional dysfunctionality with regard to sex and the language around sex? if bright young minds don't want to discuss this, that's up to them, but no-one can argue that there isn't a live issue here. some of the posts by people explaining why they really felt *very* strongly *indeed* that this post was *nothing* but a *complete* waste of time, and didn't just vote -1 but wrote carefully thought out, often emotional, pieces explaining why, should tell you that this is a thread on which there really is something that maybe we all could use a bit of talking about.

or does k5 turn out to be one of those spaces where you can't actually talk about anything you like after all, regardless of how thoughtful or thought-provoking it is. hope not.
s/^.*$//sig;#)
[ Parent ]

Hard consonant sounds and vagina-phobia (3.90 / 11) (#45)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 04:28:48 PM EST

My friends and I were talking about this the other day and we came up with two reasons that "cunt" is the queen mother of all insults to be thrown at women in the US (I've noticed, as others have posted, that it's far more accepted in the UK and elsewhere).

First would be hard consonant sounds. Cunt is just full of them, and nothing but. Hard consonant sounds exist in just about all expletives in English. Cunt happens to have a hard "k" and "t" sounds. I'm not enough of a linguist to tell you why English speakers tend to use hard consonants when attacking (see, more hard consonants) with words, but they do. Why else would people think that "cusp" is a dirty word?

The second is US society, which accepts toilet paper advertisment without blushing, but crinkles up their noses at tampon ads. To a lot of Americans, the vagina is an object of fear. There is a large body of feminist literature out there which addresses, this, so I won't try to here.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen

Tampon Ads (2.42 / 7) (#50)
by pb on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 04:52:03 PM EST

I object to tampon ads because it's a personal subject that I don't feel has a place on prime-time television. Hemorroid commercials fall in the same category. If you aren't about to talk about it over dinner, don't put it on a prime-time commercial...

However, this guideline got thrown out a long time ago, along with prime-time programming content. No wonder I don't watch it anymore...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
You don't talk about wiping yourself at dinner (4.33 / 3) (#56)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:06:59 PM EST

But everyone seems to accept toilet paper commercials without any problem. The issue is whether or not something is a normal condition (having to wipe your bum) or an embarrassing personal affliction (raging, pulsating hemerroids). In many people's minds, the fact that women menstruate regulary is not a normal condition, but in fact an embarrassing personal affliction. It's not a freaking tumor, it's just part of life.

That's the problem with equating tampon commercials to "Preperation H" commercials. You are comparing two very different things. You can see a similar dichotomy in that most people don't really object to seeing Bob Dole hawk Viagra (used to overcome sexual dysfunction) but do object to seeing KY or any other "feminine moisture" products (used to overcome sexual dysfunction) advertised. To eliminate gender bias in these perceptions, you have to look at what you are really objecting to.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]

Yes, but... (2.00 / 3) (#59)
by pb on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:17:42 PM EST

Everyone has to use toilet paper, all the time. Not everyone has to use tampons, and those that do shouldn't have to use them all the time. Bleeding should never be a normal condition; it should always be temporary. Otherwise, see your doctor. Also, many women who first get their period consider it to be a strange and embarrassing personal affliction, so it's little wonder that men would.

I would object to Bob Dole hawking Viagra too; that's nasty! I haven't seen KY advertised as such either, but that would really not be dinner conversation either, especially if they picked, say, Rosie O'Donald as a spokesperson. So I don't see a gender bias here, just a lot of tasteless commercials. While we're at it, get rid of the commercials for jock itch...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Origin of Opinion (3.33 / 3) (#62)
by HypoLuxa on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:40:55 PM EST

Bleeding should never be a normal condition

It is. For women, every month or so, it is. Perfectly normal and expected. It's not a bad thing.

Also, many women who first get their period consider it to be a strange and embarrassing personal affliction, so it's little wonder that men would.

Well, if they had been raised in a culture that has always told them that this was something not to be discussed, something to be kept private, and something to be ashamed of, don't you think that's a reasonable reaction?

For the record, I am completely in agreement on tasteless advertising. I think we can do away with advertising for anything that goes on below the waist.

--
I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]

*sigh* (3.50 / 2) (#76)
by pb on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 08:33:21 PM EST

Note that the bit about bleeding was taken out of context; please note that the bleeding should be temporary. No one should ever always bleed. I thought that was clear in my post, but...

Basically my point was, that sort of thing is normal for about a few days out of the month for some women, but it isn't a normal state of being in that people aren't supposed to bleed all the time, and that's probably a big reason why people have thought in the past that there's something wrong with it, or at least unsanitary. (the first instance I can think of would be in Jewish law, but it might go back further than that; in any case, that's probably where we get it from in our culture)

And yes, I guess that sort of thing is rarely discussed in our culture, and especially not to children; that would be another reason not to put it in a TV commercial. :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
o_O? (none / 0) (#80)
by shirobara on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 09:43:04 PM EST

"Some" women being defined as most women from the age of 15 to the age of 50, right? ^_^

I'm sorry - I don't mean to butt in the discussion or laugh at you, but that's too good, really. ^_^



[ Parent ]
Mostly... (1.00 / 1) (#83)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:48:20 AM EST

Yeah, that might be more than half, but even then there are other factors involved... Obviously, you can't count pregnant women, for example.

No, that's fine; I was being pretty vague there. I'm happy to provide amusement. Besides, it's good to see you.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
True... (none / 0) (#86)
by shirobara on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:22:02 AM EST

Pregnant women, women who go through menopause early, teenage girls who go through puberty late and women on some forms/methods of birth control medications - none of these women have periods. That's very true. But pregnant women have had periods in the past and will have periods in the future - women going through menopause have had periods, teens undergoing late puberty will eventually have periods and even if a woman is supressing her period through medication, she has had periods in the past. It's not some women - it's all women at various points in their lives - mostly all the way from puberty to menopause, with whatever breaks pregnancy brings.

I think the big thing about your statement is - menstruation is normal. It's the body clearing out the uterine lining that wasn't used during that particular fertile period. To say that "people aren't supposed to bleed all the time" in reference to menstruation is really, quite frankly, a rather simplistic and slightly odd thing to say. No, people in general aren't supposed to walk around with gaping wounds in their arms or whatnot, but women are supposed to "bleed." It is normal for all women. It has always been normal for all women and unless controlled by medical means, it will always be normal for all women. That simple.

This is a very funny conversation... ^_^ I don't suppose this is part of that Trolls Without Borders organization?



[ Parent ]
YHNBT IHL HAND (2.50 / 2) (#88)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:57:24 AM EST

Menstruation is definitely normal, provided you're a woman, you have a period, and it's that time again. But bleeding isn't a normal state of being, and it therefore should eventually stop.

That's all I was trying to say, and I thought I had made it clear originally--but this is much more entertaining than my original discussion. :)

Anyhow, I guess my point was that when people associate continuous bleeding with sudden death, mensturation starts to look pretty freaky. Just for reference, I try not to bleed at all in my day-to-day life, and I don't like to have anything pierce my skin, thus causing me to bleed, etc., etc. Call me a wimp, but I've got this survival instinct that tells me it's a bad thing.

I've also noticed that more suicidal women tend to go the mutilation route, poking themselves with sharp objects and watching the blood... I don't get it at all, and think that's pretty sick and nasty. If I wanted to die, I'm sure I'd find a way to get it over with quickly...

No, no Trolls For Dependent Children this time; this is Kuro5hin. Until it degenerates into a total flame-fest, we'll try to keep it straight. Realize that the trolls on Slashdot generate most of the intelligent thought for the rest of the Slashbots. It wasn't always this way, but I don't see it changing anytime soon. As long as most K5ers can think for themselves, there shouldn't be a real troll problem here.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
OK, what does that mean? I see it all the time... (none / 0) (#90)
by shirobara on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:14:55 AM EST

The thing is - I think that's exactly what the other poster was trying to communicate - actually I don't think the other poster was talking about actual bleeding linked to actual wounds at any point during the thread - and no, it really wasn't at all clear, linking the use of tampons with perpetual bleeding. Well, it does make for an amusing read, o_O

I mean, for my part, it's really odd that many people I interact with on a daily basis have this odd piece of flesh they can't control reliably that spurts out odd sticky salty stuff. You put it that way and it's really weird - just as weird as the idea of women magically bleeding all the time...

So, les trolls sans frontičrs have not penetrated k5 yet? Good. ^_^



[ Parent ]
Well... (3.00 / 1) (#91)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:27:39 AM EST

The original is here, (looks like it uses Javascript now or something) but I was conveying the opposite. ("You Have Not Been Trolled / I Have Lost / Have A Nice Day") And no, it all wasn't very clear, was it? :)

I agree, that's pretty weird. But it's just occasional, and you don't see *that* on a TV Commercial. Actually, if I have to see stupid Tampon commercials, I'd like to see some Condom commercials too, because at least those are funny. ("Trojan Man!")

Ach, why did an intelligent woman like yourself ever end up taking French? Los trolls odian los franceses, or something. :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Ah...that's amusing. ^_^ (none / 0) (#93)
by shirobara on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:35:36 AM EST

Clear as mud. But - oh well. ^_^

Heh, that's what this particular thread started as, right? Commercials and taste and the particular sort of war between the two? Well, it's 2:30 AM so I'm not going to get started on any of that...

I ended up taking French because it's a requirement for the program I'm in. Final exams start day after tomorrow and go for the next three days - they determine whether I take one more semester of French or two more semesters. I so want to be finished - cross your fingers for me! I wanted to learn Japanese (and hopefully still will) but at this point I've got to finish French...



[ Parent ]
Excellent... (none / 0) (#94)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:47:14 AM EST

I understand; I've got exams this week, and we're in the same timezone. My Accounting exam sucked. I've got Operating Systems tomorrow, but that should be fun and easy. After that, I've got Industrial and Organizational Psychology on Wednesday, so I should study for that... Well, you get the idea.

I took Spanish in High School, and that was enough to get me out of my foreign language requirement, so I'm not taking anything else. Good luck with Japanese; I understand that it's pretty hard.

*fingers crossed*
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Industrial and Organizational Psychology? (none / 0) (#118)
by shirobara on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:20:07 PM EST

That sounds even worse than French. >_< *crosses fingers*

Next semester is going to be cool, though. It'll be, like the past semester, a lot of work - but it won't be the same. With French all my hard work goes into a black hole and shows no visible results! Oh well, enough whining. ^_^

Yeah, Japanese is hard - I've done a lot of research about the language, though I don't know much more than the hiragana, some katakana and a few very basic kanji characters (sun and moon and mountain). But I'm contrary - if it's something I love I'll work and work and work at it!



[ Parent ]
Managerial Bullshit That I Sure Regret Taking 101! (none / 0) (#123)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:23:47 PM EST

I never could get French. For the one quarter I took it in Middle School, our French teacher was an evil old gnarled woman who insisted on calling Jean "Jean", (in French, not English) pissing her off to no end... And, well, that was the best part.

But yes, my Operating Systems exam today was easy; that's a course I'll miss. I love it, and I'd be happy to work at it, but I don't usually have to...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Heh heh... (none / 0) (#129)
by shirobara on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 08:27:00 PM EST

The first thing our French teacher in high school said to our class was:
I do not smile all the time. But just because I am not smiling does NOT MEAN I'M ANGRY.
And so us poor timid little high school freshmen braced ourselves for a difficult year...



[ Parent ]
Sounds familiar... (2.00 / 2) (#139)
by pb on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 05:11:46 PM EST

My Freshman year in High School, we had our AG English teacher say to us "I hate children!", by way of introduction...

But by the end of the year, we loved her. She acted tough, but she was a great teacher, and I'm sure she loved us just as much.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
ROFLOL! (2.66 / 3) (#116)
by greyrat on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:43:17 PM EST

You 'da bomb shirobara! Will you go out on a date with me? #8^D
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
The bomb eh? (2.66 / 3) (#119)
by shirobara on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:22:20 PM EST

Just because of one series of silly posts?...your standards are too low ^_^



[ Parent ]
It's been a frustrating and slow day... (none / 0) (#135)
by greyrat on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 09:05:40 AM EST

so the comic relief is worth it.

Hmmmm...perhaps my standards are too low. OK. Never mind. #;^p
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
Well then! (none / 0) (#140)
by shirobara on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 12:56:04 AM EST

I'm always glad to provide comic relief after a long day! But I think my dear boyfriend would be sad if dates turned out to be part of that bargain. ^_^



[ Parent ]
Well well! (none / 0) (#143)
by greyrat on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 08:42:39 AM EST

And so would my girl friend -- actually she'd probably draw and quarter me. =8^O

But then again, who says flirting (which is what you do a lot here, and good flirting it is too), especially anonymously over copper and fiber is seriously going to lead to dates? #%^)
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
It IS an affliction! (none / 0) (#133)
by DigDug on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 08:34:17 AM EST

In many people's minds, the fact that women menstruate regulary is not a normal condition, but in fact an embarrassing personal affliction.

But it is an affliction! I don't menstruate, and if I'm careful, I never will. It is a horrible disease, commonly associated with having a cunt and enjoying fucking with men.

--
Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

[ Parent ]

I do talk about shit over dinner (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by Nick Ives on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 07:53:26 PM EST

So does my sister as well. We sometimes get strange looks, but, well, I really dont know why. I dont mind about tampon ads, toilet paper ads or even hemorroid ads. All in all, im quite a hard person to accidently offend. If it wasnt meant as a personal offront you can be almost certain that I wont find it offensive.

Just some contrast for you...

[ Parent ]

Lots of things about shit are interesting (none / 0) (#149)
by Nick Ives on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 05:20:15 AM EST

Well for starters, we dont talk about shit just over dinner, its just a general thing. Like say if my turd has been especially acidy or runny or maybe I did a really big turd, or something like that, then I'll comment about it. If we happen to be eating at the time it doesnt bother us. Its not just shit, we talk about bodily functions as a general thing.

Sorry for the long wait in reply, I'm just browsing through my comments history and noticed something I wanted to reply to.

--
nick
I'm reaaaaaally hungry.

[ Parent ]

TP v. Tp (2.80 / 5) (#54)
by interiot on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:03:00 PM EST

I bet guys would blush at toilet paper ads too if they didn't have to use it every day.

Not that that makes it right, but I don't think it supports a claim of natural vagina fear. OTOH, this long-standing myth might. ;)

[ Parent ]

What toilet paper ads? (4.00 / 2) (#70)
by bjrubble on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 07:25:20 PM EST

You mean the ones with kids making football pads and rubber ducky pens, and all the other sickeningly super-saccharine "let's never give a hint what we're *actually* talking about" ads?

I find it hilarious the level of abstraction and euphemism that goes on with toilet paper, at least in the US. The Onion had a great story concerning this a while ago. If tampon ads are more disturbing to some people, it's probably because they come a lot closer to describing the product as it's actually used.

[ Parent ]
There is a joke... (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by DigDug on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 08:16:27 AM EST

A young boy pleads to his mother,

"Mommy, I want to ride on horses, play volleyball, and swim in a pool. Can you pleeeeaase buy me some Tampax?"

--
Yavista - if you haven't found a nice homepage yet.

[ Parent ]

vagina (3.00 / 1) (#98)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 04:51:38 AM EST

I found it interesing that the author of the article actually avoided using the word vagina compleatly.

I read in the paper this morning two letters to the editor complaining about an article on Ali G, who was recently accused of beeing offensive to african/carabian women with his use of the word "punani". The origanal article had described punani as "an intimate part of the female body", implying that while printing punani was okay, printing vagina was not.

The letters also pointed out that white women have 'em to...

(from the Metro)
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Perhaps your friend is a plagiarist? (2.00 / 2) (#100)
by streetlawyer on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 05:27:02 AM EST

Gerry Sadowitz, the comedian, made both those observations ten years ago; I daresay that they've been ripped off along with the rest of his act by a million comedians. Sorry to break the news, but your friend may (just may) be passing along other people's lines to appear more witty himself.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
plaigiarism, schmaigiarism. (none / 0) (#115)
by plastik55 on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:32:36 PM EST

When was the last time you declined to make an appropriate statement in conversation, just because you had heard that statement from someone else?

Also, George Carlin's language humor dates from way more than ten years ago. If you're going to accuse someone of plagiarism, at least get the source right.
w00t!
[ Parent ]

Nigger (3.88 / 18) (#46)
by pb on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 04:45:11 PM EST

There are lots of words that offend people. But often this simply has to do with the ignorance of the people involved.

Huckleberry Finn, a piece of brilliant historical fiction, should never be banned. Just because people don't have the knowledge or the intelligence to know that it's written in the vernacular of the time, and instead get hung up on a single word, the meaning of which they do not know, doesn't mean that it should be banned. That means that the people should educate themselves, and start by actually *reading* the book, and judging it on its content, and not on a word that they obviously do not understand. (negroid -> nigger -> black -> African American; tell me you don't get offended when someone says they're Nigerian...)

This article is quite similar. Read the whole write-up, and base your judgement on that. Don't get hung up on a word just because you don't understand why it's there, or how it's being used. I'm sure that 'cunt' is actually a term of endearment in many settings, believe it or not; but in that case, the intent of the people involved matters much more than the actual word does.

However, even as an insult, it should be no more offensive than 'dick' in any case. If a woman can walk up to you and say "You're a dick, you know that?", then you should have every right to say "Yeah? Well, you're a cunt!" But hopefully you'll never have to worry about that. :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Could that word have been avoided? (3.40 / 5) (#64)
by Narcischizm on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:46:12 PM EST

Besides using the word simply for shock value, the 'N' word is still offensive, and it has little to do with the target being ignorant. For instance, as a black person, I read your post in anger because of the needless use of the 'N' word, this is why. This does not mean that I wish to see Huck Finn, 19th century textbooks, or ship manifests removed from bookshelves, simply because they contain the 'N' word.

The question here, is why did he (amazing, not Mark T), or you feel the need to use those words? Shock value? Maybe because you wished people to fairly judge your posts based on merit, even though their first impression of your post may have been anger, or disgust? An article like amazings has merit, and I would be interested in the discussion that followed if I weren't 'put off' by the title. Your point will less often, and less effectively be made if you offend your audience.

Finally, the 'N' word was not simply an endearing term to refer to the skin color of black people. The root 'Negroid' refered to us as being a separate species from humans. 'N' word itself refered to us first as being property, then later as a derogatory term to refer to us, because many still did not see us as being equal to human. Nigerian is a nationality.

[ Parent ]
The 'N' word. (3.00 / 4) (#69)
by Holloway on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 07:00:19 PM EST

(If you will be in "anger because of the needless use of the 'N' word" in my post, you probably shouldn't read anymore. OK, so I warned you.)

I wouldn't say that Nigger is an offensive word. I call some of my black friend's nigger, some of my white too. They call each other niggers - it's just like any noun. It's almost interchangable with 'friend'. Ho hum.

The movie "Pulp Fiction" is very similar to our usage.


== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous

[ Parent ]

Niger, Nigger, and Negroid (3.50 / 4) (#75)
by pb on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 08:27:18 PM EST

I don't think my use of "the N word" was needless; rather, it served its purpose. That was the word in question, and that was the word I was discussing. Maybe by putting it first without any other context, I might have offended someone who didn't know what I was talking about. But the whole point of my post was to explain that. Also, it rather mirrored the article...

At least you agree that context makes the difference. Mark Twain used the word because it was perfectly appropriate, and accurate. Maybe in 100 years someone will read an otherwise great book that talks about "black people" and get needlessly offended by that as well. (some people already are today... bah...) But without some appreciation of the context (historical or otherwise) involved, we don't really know what was meant by the word in the first place.

Finally, "Nigger" was explicitly a term to refer to the skin color of black people. Nigger, Negroid, Nigerian, etc. all come from the same root word--niger--which means "black" in Latin. Negroid was a categorization of race, true, but it was used mainly for classification. There's still a box on the standardized tests for "race"; now it says something different, but it means the same thing. So, back then, it was like calling someone black. And no matter what word you pick for it, it'll mean the same thing. But some people think it's a statement of fact, and some people try to use it as an insult; (like 'liberal', say...) that's just a matter of opinion, and I wouldn't let other people's opinions mess with my self image, if I can help it.

But what I find most amazing is how people can get so upset at the darndest things. I could understand if, say, I or my parents were persecuted for something arbitrary. I'm pretty touchy about religion, because I've personally been the victim of closed-minded religious bigots. Therefore, I could understand being about that angry about racism. But how can someone hold a grudge, not personally, but from that far in the past? I've never even heard a first-hand account of slavery, so I seriously know no one who suffered from this who is still alive today.

To continue with the religion example, I know that my ancestors were persecuted for their religious beliefs, because some of them came over on the Mayflower. But that doesn't really make me angry; I understand what must have happened, and I don't like it, but what's done is done. I don't hate England for it; if anything, I hate the people who learned nothing from this and continued in the same mindset of religious persecution, but things are much better now than they were then. Much better to hate racism itself than to hate the dead people who were responsible for it at the time, or for that matter, their children. Race protects no one from racism; open mindedness does.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
"Nigger Jim" in Huck Finn (4.00 / 2) (#82)
by Asperity on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:10:16 AM EST

The people who keep attempting to have Huckleberry Finn banned for its use of the "N-word" are some of the most ignorant people around, well-intentioned or not.

Sure, it's offensive, and even though it was in common use at the time, Twain knew it wasn't exactly a nice word even then. The thing is, there's a reason he uses the "N-word" aside from the time-appropriateness. "Nigger Jim" is the -only- admirable character in the book. Twain was saying something important about prejudices against blacks in general and that word in particular by applying a nasty word to a nice guy.

I really don't think the losers who call for the removal of a book that teaches the lessons they claim to approve of (in a non-didactic way, even!) have ever read the book. Thorough reading of Huck Finn and other books like it will do worlds more good for American society than years of poorly-written "diversity awareness" nonsense. The question to ask: what does Huck Finn have to do with the difference between education and mere schooling? And which one do the book-banners want? Real thought about the presence of prejudice in our lives or spouting of jargon?

[ Parent ]

"Offensive" words (1.50 / 4) (#111)
by PresJPolk on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 10:56:30 AM EST

The internet is a big place. If we omitted from the internet every word that was offensive to someone, it would get hard to have honest discussions of touchy subjects.

If you can't deal with people talking about the word nigger, then 1) unplug your NIC/modem, or 2) go read disney.com.

[ Parent ]
Yes! (3.00 / 2) (#114)
by Narcischizm on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:28:24 PM EST

Kinda like the planet huh? Well, if offensive words aren't so bad then say them at will, to your mother, the old lady down the street, to the priest at the closest church. As a matter of fact, walk through the heavily black neighborhoods in your area and shout Nigger at the top of your lungs!

The reason you won't do that is not because you might be injured, but because you know that there are standards for acceptable behavior. The world consists of communities. In communities there are socially acceptable standards of behavior. I, nor did any other comment that I read here, say that the word Nigger should not be discussed, or mentioned on the entire internet. k5 is a community, and if I do not like the use of an emotionally charged word, in a specific instance, in the community of which I am a part, I will say something about it.

And it would only be hard to have discussions of touchy subjects because people don't take the time to choose their words. More often than not, the use of a word is simply to evoke an emotional, not intellectual response, such as the title 'Cunt', or the comment title 'Nigger'. With the fullness of the English language, stooping to the level of shock value is a cop-out, a poor substitute for a well-thought comment.

[ Parent ]
Shouting Nigger in a neighborhood (2.00 / 2) (#117)
by PresJPolk on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:51:36 PM EST

In the "Kentucky Fried Movie", in the segment called Thrill Seekers, someone does just that: goes into a neighborhood and shouts Nigger. The point is that such an act is as death-defying as cliff diving or whatnot.

But, having the word as a topic here is nothing at all like that. A neighborhood is where someone lives, a web site is where someone chooses to visit.

[ Parent ]
Good points... (3.80 / 5) (#65)
by Miniluv on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:47:50 PM EST

First of all, I myself do not consider Huck Finn to be historical fiction, since it was written by Mark Twain about his contemporaries, but that's niether here nor there. It's one of the best examples in the literary world about context and offensive words being used in it. I do not think that South Park and it's gratuitous use of the more colorful part of the English language is an apt parallel.

The thing that puzzles me is, why do we feel we can tell other people how offensive a word should or shouldn't be? Do we, as simple members of society, have the right to dictate to anyone what connotations a word should carry? Especially a word so rich in cultural history as "cunt"?

My fiancee and I use the word cunt all the time, almost exclusively when referring the one in her possession. She took a lot of time adjusting to using the word in a context not carrying loads of antipathy, whereas it's a word I "grew up with" as it was popular in my social crowd during school. She and I both came to the table with wildly different takes on the word, based around the rather different experience sets we'd had up to that point. Since we were in a situation where conversation was feasible, we were able to work out the differences of opinion regarding the word.

Our ability to do that is not universal, especially in terms of television, print media, etc, and that should be taken into account. I don't think censorship is really the term that applies, as opposed to moderation. I have no problem with South Park having the word cunt, as long as everybody understands that it's gratuitous/artistic/literary/silly/whathaveyou and the rating system reflects the content. Rather than wondering why "cunt" gets an X and murders an R, why not wonder what that says about our society?

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Deciding what's offensive (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by pb on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 08:40:07 PM EST

Well, yes, at the time Huck Finn was just Fiction. But by now, it's definitely Historical. Otherwise, people would understand it. South Park is contemporary fiction, but in today's society, they find themselves in similar positions. The funny thing is that the South Park Movie is entirely about being anti-censorship. When people object to it solely for "content", I have to laugh, because the "content" they're talking about has nothing to do with the actual content of the movie--that is to say, the message.

I guess we tell each other how offensive a word should be by our usage of it in context. A good example of this might be you and your fiancee; apparently you both had your own ideas about it, and you came to a reasonable compromise. But first, you had to explain the context or intent with which the word was being used. After that, I take it that all was well, pretty much?

But basically, for any word, taking some time to understand how it is being used in context will help far more than simply pointing to the word and objecting that it's a bad word, and not actually trying to read the sentence. Not only is that shallow, it's also illiterate! :)

Oh, and South Park also took its time to explain that bad words are considered to be far worse in the US than actual violence, which was also pretty funny...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Interesting... (3.00 / 2) (#89)
by Miniluv on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:04:51 AM EST

Having not seen the South Park Movie, I'm not really qualified to comment on it, so I'll refrain for now. As far as context dictating offensiveness, I don't buy that in it's entirety, because context is more than just usage. Sure, the word "nigger" is acceptable in the context of Huck Finn to either you or I, but that doesn't mean it should be any less offensive to a black person.

Explaining the context is fine, and it's a great step, but that doesn't make it right to effectively tell a person that they are wrong for taking offense to the use of a term, especially when it's used in humor as opposed to factual discourse. People have a right to feel however they do about a word, and explaining the context doesn't have to change that feeling.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

That's about half-ok... (3.50 / 2) (#108)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:26:54 AM EST

When I was searching for the origin of "nigger", I found a web page about a campaign to change its definition. Apparently some concerned citizens wrote in to Mirriam-Webster to tell them their definition was wrong, or at least to have them highlight how offensive the word is.

I read through the entire page, and was no wiser about the word origin; I wonder if that idea had even crossed their mind. Instead of getting all offended because the word refers to black people (like they didn't know that already), they could have looked it up, and found out that the root word *means* black. What a surprise.

Anyhow, I looked it up, so now I know, at least. I would have laughed if they had tried to petition the OED to change their definition, because they always have verbose definitions of words and their etymology. I guess it's partially Webster's fault for not providing enough information in the first place, but it isn't a very big dictionary...

So, yes, some people will get offended. But if they can't take the time to find out what a word means or how it's being used, then they'll miss out. If someone can read all of Huck Finn, understand Mark Twain's intentions, and still got offended by the word nigger in general, well, that's fine with me. But if they read until the first instance of the word and stop and say "Mark Twain was a racist bastard!", well, that's just ignorance and intolerance all rolled into one. In the meantime, if they laugh at the Chris Rock routine about niggers, (which is very funny, by the way) then they might be racist, too. Because it's the same word, but apparently it's ok for Chris Rock to say it, but not Mark Twain...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Use of the word (3.75 / 4) (#81)
by ObeseWhale on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 11:18:32 PM EST

The use of the word in question does not have any association with the color black, indeed, before it was used to label Africans, it was used to label people as being "lazy". Conveniently, the name sounded like "neger", black in many languages, so that's how the term came to be an insult towards Africans. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the word is very offensive, and should not be used in everyday speech.

As for censorship from books which use the word in historical context, that is a whole different argument, and one I'm sure we can all agree on.

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
Well... (3.66 / 3) (#84)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:01:03 AM EST

I've already looked up the origin, but I did a little more research, just to check.

It's considered very offensive *now*, but originally it just meant "black", and that's what its origin is. Before it was used to label Africans, it meant the same thing as Negro did. Back when that was the polite thing to say. Or just black. If you consider that polite. Or possibly African-American, if you're American...

Incidentally, they mention "cunt" in that description as well. Go figure...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Inappropriate (2.00 / 1) (#130)
by quam on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 08:54:47 PM EST

'Nigger' is inappropriate under any circumstance --- regardless of the race of the person stating the term. Just a personal unsupported observation, but racism does appear to be on the rise. Not just between white vs. black, but black vs. black. As someone who is white, this is difficult for me to understand, but observable.

Why would a mere word always be inappropriate? I think it has to do a lot with the understanding of history. For instance, many feel that under any context, references to hitler or nazism is inappropriate. I think the kkk/pre civil rights era was as a tragic era in the world's history --- although repression of blacks lasted for a significantly longer period of time. Slavery, racism and the degradation of an entire race merely because of the color of one's skin is uncivilized.

Understand that it is a very, very recent event in the world that there is almost a total abscence of black slavery (some slavery continues today in isolated areas of Africa). It is very unfortunate there is not a total abscence of racism. This is a sign of growing educational problems and decreasing toleration of differing groups within society (doesn't society == a mixture of differing groups?).

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
[ Parent ]
Could you tell me why? (5.00 / 1) (#131)
by pb on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:05:34 PM EST

Dude, you used the word in your post!

Please tell me why it's inappropriate under *any* circumstance. I've seen some pretty funny comedy routines with "Nigger" in it. While you're at it, please let us know if it's ever ok to say "Cunt". (Oops, I said it! I hope it was ok...)

I think I've made a pretty good case for defending when I think these words are appropriate. But I'd love to hear a contrasting viewpoint, and yours sounds pretty different.

Also, I haven't seen this recent onslaught of racism, but maybe I'm sheltered here in the middle of North Carolina.....
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
The R version (3.20 / 10) (#51)
by Pac on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 04:53:31 PM EST

****

What's so bad about ****?

A simple word, but yet one that would practically ensure that the person who said it never worked on TV again.

The reason I ask this is in honor of the South Park movie, which I recently saw. The thing I found amusing about it was that they had a song about how the little children shouldn't swear, and the song went 'don't say ****, because that's the worst thing you can say'.

I found this rather ironic, given that the point of the film was to be offensive, but, incredibly, it appears that using the word '****' would get the film banned, so they pretended that, in fact, '****' is the 'worst' thing one can say.

What is it that is so bad about the ******? Why, as it appears, would the word '****' get a film an X certificate, whereas something like Lethal Weapon, filled with violence, would get away with an R?

Does this say something about our society, where a simple anatomical word can cause greater offense than murder?

I think it would be better for everyone if these words were effectively neutered; I certainly do not see anything wrong with '****'s (the word!) on TV. It is only by allowing onesself to be offended that these words gain power. For instance, I believe that those little old ladies who take mortal affront at the children on the bus, deliberately trying to offend them, would be better off ignoring it - by doing so, they are better off, since they have one annonyance removed from their life.

Furthermore, and rather more fundamentally, why is it that the most offensive thing in our society refers to the female *******? Doesn't this just show how far we have to go before we have any sexual equality? Or is it just part of the repressed sexuality (that is so misguided that an anatomical word is somehow more offensive than rape or death) that has been with us since Victorian times, and which leads to all the sexual hangups, violence and inequality in our society?

PS. The poll is in honor of ****.

(The pool)

**** is

1. AAAA, the American Association for the Aliteration of Acronyms

2. Any one of the 36^4 alphanumeric printable combinations of 10 digits plus 26 letters

3. Any offensive element of the above combination to any social group in existence or yet to exist

4. Pac is obviously a troll worst than amazing

5. Inoshiro

Editorial: This goes for some perspective (with apologies to amazing). Words are just sets of letters, which in their turn are mostly sets of geometrical forms. Any emmotion is in the eye, the body and the brain of the beholder. When someone once complained that a woman in his painting was distorted, a very famous French impressionist painter replied "But, my lady, it is not a woman, it is a painting". Think about it.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


Stop taking the offensiveness out of swearwords! (3.80 / 15) (#53)
by zakalwe on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:00:36 PM EST

I see a lot of posts here about it's silly that we let a word offend us, and how we shouldn't let it offend us, and use the word. Stop it

The whole point of a swear word is to be offensive. It's supposed to be like that, and when we reach the stage when 'cunt' is no longer offensive, then another word will have to be invented or elevated to take its place.

'Fuck' used to be the 'most offensive' word, and possibly still is here in the UK, though these days it's been a bit devalued by schoolkids who use it as every other word. I rarely use it, (saving it for special occasions.), and this is the way it should be used ( though it's also used for strong emphasis). If I call you a stupid fucker, or some other variant I'm intending it to offend you. Saying we should treat swearwords as any other, not letting then offend us is like saying we should treat 'cat' as any other word, and not assume it refers to a small domestic animal.

So basicly, keep swear words offensive - stop trying to legitimise them or you're missing their whole point. If you want words like this to be freely usable on TV, then they'll no longer be swear words, the words have become divorced from their intention, and lose the power that makes them useful ( As seems to eventually happen to all such swearwords - but there's no need to hurry the process, I expect to get good use out of 'Fuck' for another ten years at least.

Madonna (4.00 / 3) (#60)
by interiot on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:18:43 PM EST

stop trying to legitimise them or you're missing their whole point

Or, to take the opposite stance... realise that they're just symbols, and not the actual act, so why react so strongly?

Madonna used both good and bad symbols in shocking ways. For instance, she used a cross and other church symbols in the "Like a Virgin" music video. Some critics claim she does that intentionally to make viewers think about why we attach such strong reactions to particular symbols.

[ Parent ]

JUST symbols? (3.66 / 3) (#102)
by zakalwe on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:12:35 AM EST

Words and symbols are the whole basis of our communication, and are there to communicate a meaning both through their literal meaning and their connotations.

Swearwords (when used as insults), are there to offend people with. If you fail to see offense in someone insulting you, then you've failed to pick up their meaning because one of you has miscommunicated. If you refuse to consider a swearword as offensive, you're just redefining a word without telling anyone.

Now you could argue that it's the insult thats the offense, and not the word. The act of saying "Fuck you" is obviously different to just saying "Fuck". But the whole impact of the insult really derives from the fact that it's not a word you're supposed to say in 'polite company' (Which basicly means if I stood up and shouted it at the top of my voice here in a university computer center, I stand a good chance of being thrown out) Take that shock value out of it and it is no longer a useful insult.

And that's the way it should be. Offensive words are offensive because that's what they're supposed to be. Symbols used to shock are only useful if they do shock. This doesn't mean of course that we should ban people from using offensive words. They can be incredibly useful simply because of their shock value, and shocking people is sometimes the best way to communicate a meaning (Look at this article for instance)

[ Parent ]

You're right, but that's not very interesting... (none / 0) (#142)
by seb on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 06:10:20 AM EST

I would argue that the whole point of symbols is that they can be loaded with multiple meaning (and most cultural theorists are with me on that one :)

The thesis about the word 'cunt' posted elsewhere makes this point very eloquently. It examines all the possible meanings of the word cunt. Saying that it's a swearword and its sole interest is in its capacity to offend is a defendable position but not a very interesting one. More interesting is *why* is it considered so offensive, which was the point of this post.

To paraphrase that thesis: 'bad' things you call men: motherfucker, son of a bitch, cunt. bad things you call women: bitch, whore, slag. Notice how the way you offend a man is to refer to women in some way, whereas the way you offend women is to refer to animals or their supposed sexual proclivity. *That's* what's interesting about the word cunt. The way symbols are used gives a lot of insight into the rest of society. I think the author of that dissertation was probably a bit naive (or taking the piss) when they suggested trying to win back the word cunt from the patriarchal status quo, but on the other hand, the word 'nigger' has been successfully reappropriated. So who knows.

[ Parent ]
Swear words aren't supposed to be offensive! (3.20 / 5) (#61)
by BonzoESC on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:22:20 PM EST

Saying swear words are supposed to be offensive is like saying "God gave us arsenic so we can kill people with it! (wink!)" Swear words came about because they are, for the most part, single syllable, easy to say, and are often shortenings of words with another meaning. The f word derives from 'ficken,' or 'to infect,' in Latin or Greek or some other ancient language. I imagine that the term could be adapted to mean other things, like the word screw has been. And, eventually, all the ancient Roman farmers, sailors, construction workers, and C programmers came to say ficken as a curse word. Now, what is easier to say, ficken or the f word?

--

Normally, my sig is an image.
[ Parent ]

Word origin... (4.33 / 3) (#71)
by B'Trey on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 07:51:32 PM EST

Actually, no one is sure where the word "fuck" came from. The word "ficken" is German, but the OED will explicitly tell you that the two are not related. The earliest recorded uses of "fuck" are in Scotland.

Regardless of the origin, swear words ARE intended to offend. There are dozens of synonyms for vagina, with varying shades of crudity. If you don't want to offend, use another word. If you choose to use "cunt," you do so knowing full well the full connotations of the word.

Every language has swear words. Every culture has words that are taboo. They serve a purpose. If there were no swear words, what would you say when you hit your thumb with a hammer? No, seriously. Swear words allow you to express strong emotion. And which porn movie do you thing will sell more copies: The one where the star looks at the camera and says "Yeah, baby. Fuck my cunt!" or the one where she says "Yeah, baby. Have intercourse with my vagina!"?

[ Parent ]

F.U.C.K (none / 0) (#138)
by FunkyChild on Wed Dec 13, 2000 at 11:09:15 AM EST

Actually I heard (from an unreliable source albeit) that the word 'fuck' came about from old times, when convicted rapists would wear 'F.U.C.K' on their backs to indicate their crime (For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge). Supposedly then fuck became synonymous with rape, and has now lost that connotation and just means sex. However, it still carries offensiveness(?) from its past.


-- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. And now, you know why.
[ Parent ]
Yes they are (4.00 / 2) (#112)
by zakalwe on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 11:15:58 AM EST

More like saying "God gave us rat poison so we can kill rats with it". Swear words are used for more than one purpose (Eg. expletive / emphasis / insult), but their major reason for existance is to offend and shock. The origin of the word is irrelevant, and usually completely different from the meaning (and even from what the word 'officially' means. 'Fuck' usually means intercourse, but if I call someone a "fucker", I'm not saying "You are someone who has sex". It's just a generic insult.
Swear words came about because they are, for the most part, single syllable, easy to say, and are often shortenings of words with another meaning.
You've got it backwards. Swear words are (usually) harsh, gutteral and short, because that't the type of meaning they want to convey. If you want to use an offensive word for genetalia, you don't use fancy latin names - you look for the harshest, most blunt term available. (On a bit of a tangent, this is one of the things that annoys about American swearing - why use "ass" when there's the clearly superior, more gutteral British "arse" - also much more fun to say)



[ Parent ]

How many times can you be shocked? (none / 0) (#127)
by speek on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:39:37 PM EST

...but their major reason for existance is to offend and shock

New movies have to go further than previous movies because you can't surprise and shock people with what you did last year. New music has to interest people with sounds they haven't heard before. New books have to come up with new stories. New paintings have to draw new subjects. New attempts at offense have to likewise develop new means of shocking. Your desire to keep things as they are, with fuck and cunt being horribly shocking is an attempt to stop change.

If you concern is that nothing will replace these words ability to shock, then I sympathize - maybe you're right and that would be a shame.

If your concern is that we'll lose these specific words, then I don't sympathize - get use to the changing guard.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Two bins? I don't think so. (none / 0) (#122)
by chewie on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:01:19 PM EST

The whole point of a swear word is to be offensive.

Let's see. I can think of any number of ways to use the word "fuck" that would not imply offense:

  • "What the fuck is that?!"
  • "How the fuck did you do that?"
  • "Fuckin' right!"

Obviously, the word "fuck" has ascended the depths of "swear words only" into the realm of everyday language, especially in the context of stressing a point in an exclaimation, statement, or question.

I cannot do the same for the word "cunt", however:

  • "What the cunt is that?!"
  • "How the cunt did you do that?!"

I say this only to stress the point that not all words that people generally consider "swear words" are not used in contexts that define offensive statements. Some obviously cannot transist this boundary, but that is largely subjective. Flat-out statements of definition that you are given simply do not equate in a logistical examination of the word use in spoken and written grammar.

I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with your wholesale approach to classifying the English language into two bins, "swear words" and "not swear words."


assert(expired(knowledge)); /* core dump */
[ Parent ]
Profanity and sexual words (none / 0) (#148)
by oisteink on Fri Dec 29, 2000 at 05:07:57 AM EST

Why are we using sexual words as profanity? Is this a western type of cursing? Isn't swearing a religious act? What would you consider to be the most provoking statement:
- You fucking cunt.
- You go to hell. You go to hell, and you die.
For me the first one is not very offending (other that the missuse of sexual words), and the second tells me that somebody wants to see me dead. According to webster (my typo saviour), the word profane is:
1 : to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt.
2 : to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use.
So I guess my post is a bit off topic (discussing cursing, insulting).

Øistein Kjos Out of Norway "I need a hammer, to hammer them down"
[ Parent ]
heh... (3.25 / 4) (#66)
by ksandstr on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 05:55:26 PM EST

Naturally, because it's the atomic bomb of profanity in the US. Not that I care, since you can't really curse in english - the language just doesn't seem to have the potential for serious profanity after you've heard someone curse in finnish.



Fin.
Violence vs Sex as the doom of children (3.44 / 9) (#67)
by boxed on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 06:08:27 PM EST

In Sweden, politicians, religious zealots and mad parents blame violence. Anyone who would blame sex on tv would be laughed at more or less. This is a US-only thing afaik, and a mighty strange one at that.

So the US are suggesting (2.20 / 5) (#74)
by hotgrits on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 08:14:06 PM EST

that people wouldn't hav esex if it wasn't for TV?

[ Parent ]
I think It's a US only thing (2.00 / 1) (#96)
by FeersumAsura on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:33:19 AM EST

Even in the UK which is hardly the most liberal country in the world cunt would hardly be noticed. It's just American TV is just so wholesome and good. While your films are sick and degenerate (yeah). I think the Swedes have got the right idea. Well I have to agree I'm going over there next year.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
[ Parent ]
Are you sure? (3.50 / 2) (#97)
by Beorn on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 03:53:03 AM EST

In Sweden, politicians, religious zealots and mad parents blame violence. Anyone who would blame sex on tv would be laughed at more or less.

That's because it's all censored. ;) I suppose pornography laws are more liberal in Sweden than in Norway, but it's hardly a paradise of naked blonde swedes on TV, as indicated by the recent Shocking Truth debate.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

ehem, well that's not surprising (3.00 / 1) (#103)
by boxed on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:52:54 AM EST

...considering "Shocking Truth" was a propaganda movie, and not a documentary. There were huge gaping holes in the "facts" in it. The reality of the matter is that naked women are quite common in swedish film, compared to american, but no one really notices anymore since well.. it's normal.

[ Parent ]
Scandinavia vs USA (4.50 / 2) (#104)
by Beorn on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 07:43:23 AM EST

...considering "Shocking Truth" was a propaganda movie, and not a documentary. There were huge gaping holes in the "facts" in it.

Yes. It made quite a stir on our side of Svinesund too.

The reality of the matter is that naked women are quite common in swedish film, compared to american, but no one really notices anymore since well.. it's normal.

I think I was trying to point out the odd paradox that Scandinavia is socially more liberal, but legally more restrictive than the US. So you can show more skin on prime time TV in Scandinavia, but less explicit porn on pay channels, (in the case of Norway, little beyond passive nudity.)

We have no basic protection of speech, and the Communication Decency Act would never have been stopped in a scandinavian supreme court. Which is the lesser of two evils, scandinavian legal censorship or american social censorship? I don't know, but I sure am glad norwegians didn't invent the internet.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Ehm, where are you from? (3.00 / 2) (#105)
by boxed on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 07:54:29 AM EST

We have no basic protection of speech, and the Communication Decency Act would never have been stopped in a scandinavian supreme court.
In Sweden speech is better protected than in the US and laws like the Communication Decency Act have been proposed and ripped to pieces by public debate before they could ever even come near becoming law. I don't know how it is in other nordic countries, but Sweden has strict laws protecting the leaking of information.

[ Parent ]
Correction (3.50 / 4) (#109)
by Beorn on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 09:36:53 AM EST

In Sweden speech is better protected than in the US and laws like the Communication Decency Act have been proposed and ripped to pieces by public debate before they could ever even come near becoming law.

You're right, Sweden appears to have a good legal protection of speech. I did not know this, thanks for making me aware of it. According to this, though, (norwegian text), racist expressions and violent pornography are outlawed. Also, would stricter censorship laws require a rewrite of the constitution or simply a majority of the parliament? The links I found wasn't very clear on this.

But what I said still applies to Norway, (which is where I live.)

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Censorship and racism (3.00 / 1) (#110)
by boxed on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 10:06:22 AM EST

Some racist stuff and any pornography that has been made whilst braking laws is illegal. Being a rascist isn't illegal, nor is it illegal to say that you are a racist. The only thing that is illegal is to try to persuade people to perform crimes that have a racist motivation. Similar rules apply to pornography. Since it is illegal to sell your body in Sweden, most pornography will have to be (at least indirect) produced by braking this law. This means that no pornography (except child pornography (no legislature is immune to the pedophile witch hunt it seems)) is illegal per se.

Applying harder censorship or harder laws against rascism will require a change in the constitution and to drive such a change through it must be accepted by a majority of the people in a public election AND be accepted by two thirds of the parliament not once but twice with an election in between. This means that changing such laws is not only hard but it takes at least four years.

[ Parent ]

Unfair Rating Alert! (2.33 / 3) (#145)
by unfair_rating_alert! on Fri Dec 15, 2000 at 10:51:14 PM EST

This comment is currently rated at 1.50, yet contains an intelligent contribution to the thread and story!

---- Canned Text ----

This comment was provided by unfair_rating_alert!, a troll account created strictly to look for intelligent comments unfairly rated below 2.00. You may not agree with the contents of the previous post, however, if you're fair you should agree that it didn't deserve a less than 2.00 rating. To preserve the integrity of this troll account no comments from here will be rated as it's simply too easy to open multiple accounts to stack a rating. The purpose of this account is not to affect or change individual ratings, not but to show bias within the rating system. Therefore, this account will not post topical or editorial content, rebuttals, story submissions, rate comments, or vote on story submissions. Readers are encouraged to reconsider a rating and act according to their conscience.

[ Parent ]

South park (1.47 / 19) (#73)
by maketo on Mon Dec 11, 2000 at 08:02:58 PM EST

is garbage. It should not be on TV, period.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
You (2.14 / 7) (#85)
by AndyL on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:09:38 AM EST

are an idiot. You should not be on the Internet, period.

But what're you gonna do? If we kicked you out we'd have to kick everyone out and nobody wants that.

-Andy



[ Parent ]
hmmm (2.00 / 7) (#87)
by maketo on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 01:31:23 AM EST

I probably shouldnt go down to your level. Nah, I wont.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Re: hmmm (3.00 / 4) (#113)
by Trencher on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 12:17:50 PM EST

I think you just did. In my mind, certainly. Did you expect us to think "Oh, this person is showing so much restraint, and simply pointing out that they could be rude right back."
But given the comment you made that started this, I shouldn't be surprised. Just because you dislike the show South Park doesn't mean it should not be aired. Maybe I don't like your favorite TV show, or your favorite book, or your religion, or your race... That gives me no right to declare that they should be abolished. Try to grow up, be a little more accepting, and make a positive contribution to society. We have enough people trying to bring us down without doing it for them.


"Arguing online is like the Special Olympics. It doesn't matter if you win or lose, you're still a retard." RWR
[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#120)
by maketo on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:30:48 PM EST

I am not the one trying not to accept things. I stated my opinion about South Park - that it is garbage and should not be on TV as such. That is my opinion because I saw the show. The guy who said I am an idiot said that based on my free expression of the opinion. He doesnt even know me. But hey, I insulted "his" show...
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#125)
by kaemaril on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 05:58:34 PM EST

What's the problem? You gave an opinion (that Southpark is garbage and should not be on the TV).

He gave an opinion (that you are an idiot and should not be on the internet).

Is his opinion in someway less valid than yours? You certainly seem to be suggesting it...

"South Park is <yadda yadda yadda>" is just my free opinion, hey I'm allowed it and heck, I even watched the show...

"You are an idiot" is just that guy being a big old meanie at me 'cos I dissed his show and he doesn't even know me...

Well, he read your comment. That was enough to form an opinion.

Both opinions may be equally valid. Are both equally valid facts? Who knows? Who cares?


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
and here I thought that... (none / 0) (#126)
by kei on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 06:04:57 PM EST

... he was mocking your South Park sucks comment for its lack of substantiation. Imitation can be the sincerest form of criticism.
--
"[An] infinite number of monkeys typing into GNU emacs would never make a good program."
- /usr/src/linux/Documentation/CodingStyle
[ Parent ]
Cunt - the movie (3.00 / 2) (#92)
by driptray on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:33:28 AM EST

Actually I think the title was simply "Cunt". It was a movie (made a few years ago) showing a succession of women's cunts. It was made by a woman in an effort to destigmatise the word and the organ, and was apparently a serious film that viewers found quite affecting.

(I almost used the word "neuter" instead of destigmatise, but that would have been totally inappropriate. Cunts can (should?) never be neutered.)

I'm at a loss to understand the people here complaining about how amazing has used "the word" (how coy!) in the title, and liberally throughout his write-up. How could this be avoided? I'd say that by using "cunt" in such an up-front way, amazing has spectacularly succeeded in the goal of exploring language taboos.

I'm generally supportive of people making attempts to reclaim taboo words and shift their meaning, although I recognise that its a slow and difficult process. The offensive thing about the word "cunt" is that it is offensive. I'd prefer it if "cunt" wasn't offensive, but it obviously is most of the time, and so I don't usually say it. But I can't see how its offensive to use "cunt" (or "nigger", or anything else) in this type of discussion where "cunt" is really just a metaphor for "cunt".


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
If you think this piece is over-intellectual .... (3.00 / 3) (#101)
by streetlawyer on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 05:30:39 AM EST

Check this out. An entire dissertation on the titular Saxon epithet

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
An interesting thesis on the origins of the word (4.00 / 5) (#106)
by krelar on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 08:03:35 AM EST

A friend sent me an interesting thesis on the origins and taboo's surrounding the word cunt, you can find it below.

http://members.tripod.co.uk/mathunt/dissertation.html

Perhaps unsurprisingly the reasons for it being socially unaceptable lie in religious arguments.

Personally I have no problem with profanity, I just prefer not to have it shoved in my face. Ultimately its a matter of personal choice, I would rather something apparently harmless was available to all and have the choice not to view it, than not have the choice at all.

PFFFT!!! (2.00 / 2) (#121)
by Cuthalion on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 02:39:02 PM EST

It is clear that the word `cunt' is a taboo within contemporary Western society, and has been so for over five hundred years, though there is also evidence that at one time it was a word with no social prohibitions or negative connotations. The word's medieval uses in surnames, such as that of Bele Wydecunte in 1328 (Donald, 1994:84), and streetnames, such as Gropecuntelane in c. 1230 (OED, 1989), indicate that it was once a publicly acceptable term.

While hilarous, I question the veracity of this document.

[ Parent ]
My initial thoughts too... (none / 0) (#144)
by krelar on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 08:56:06 AM EST

...until I did a google search on some of these places and found that there were numerous references to them.

Of course urban legend might be playing a part. But I consider them authentic.

[ Parent ]

A tragic error (none / 0) (#150)
by shoeboy on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 07:06:03 AM EST

You could have had a great post.
Instead you chose to make a mediocre one.

Personally I have no problem with profanity, I just prefer not to have it shoved in my face. Ultimately its a matter of personal choice

What were you thinking?

You should have written Personally I have no problem with "cunt," I just prefer not to have it shoved in my face. Ultimately its a matter of personal choice

This is the biggest wasted opportunity since FDR's famous speech at the 1928 Democratic convention.

--Shoeboy
No more trolls!
[ Parent ]
Boy where do you live? (2.00 / 1) (#128)
by maketo on Tue Dec 12, 2000 at 07:17:31 PM EST

The difference is that one insulted a show and another insulted a person. I dont know where you live but in my world if the person calls you an idiot to your face, you seek to counter the offence in honorable manner. That is, if you are dealing with a honorable person.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
profanity and the role of an editor (3.00 / 2) (#141)
by daevt on Thu Dec 14, 2000 at 03:04:57 AM EST

the role of the editor in any publication is although time consumming, not a terribly hard one. the job of an editor is to fix certain typographical errors (e.g. spelling and grammer mistakes), and to make articles "suitible for print" whereas they may not be when they are received. it is in the interest of a community to maintain a certain amount of dignity in what it say does and prints, and such the editor plugs away at keeping things such as pornographic advertisments from parading as articles, and personal attacks and slanderous accusasions from flooding an otherwise well maintained public forum. it is not the job of the editor to decide what a public forum reads, however it has long been held by the highest court in the land that you are free to say what you will, and not be told things that are ment to be, or have strong potential to be offensive. im not taking any decernible stance here, except id get slapped if i used cunt in front of my girlfriend.
yo
southpark movie (5.00 / 2) (#146)
by daani on Sun Dec 17, 2000 at 08:10:46 AM EST

The reason I ask this is in honor of the South Park movie

Eric says cunt right at the end of the film, when he's screaming and shooting lightning bolts. Once.



Pub Conversation (5.00 / 1) (#147)
by PenguinWrangler on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 11:52:24 AM EST

"He's a cunt!"
"You can't call him that, cunts are good things."

"Well what should I call him then?"
"Call him a wanker. No, wanking is a good thing too. Call him a banker."

"Oi! You banker!"

Authentic pub conversation as overheard by me quite recently.

"Information wants to be paid"
Profanity Reconsidered | 150 comments (125 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
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