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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Punctuation marks for the dainty

I've never understood the point of using punctuation marks rather than the actual word when swearing. If you write, "f@*&ing" instead of "fucking," for instance, what exact does it prove? That you are somehow too good to use the actual word? That you are refined? That you are too good a person to swear?

Everybody knows exactly what you're saying, and the message is exactly the same. So what's the difference?

I've never personally been convinced of a person's essential goodness by the fact that he writes "m**********r" rather than "motherfucker."

It's just a word. Sorry, but if you want to show your good character, that takes a little more work.

If you want to convince me of your dainty comportment, well, it does go a little way. But daintiness and good character are not the same thing.

As to those who are offended by swears, being easily "offended" is the cheapest -- and usually falsest - way of showing good character.

Myself, I try not to overuse such words, but only because they tend to signal a lack of imagination. ("You fucking asshole" is the lamest of insults, since it could be applied to absolutely anybody; if you want to hurt someone, tailor your insult.)

And "fucking"'s use for purposes of emphasis is too meaningless for my taste.

Then again, I don't avoid use of the word either. I will admit, however, I use it less in writing than in speech, since I have the luxury of being able to edit myself on paper, and with a little time to think I can usually find other words which are both more descriptive and more apt.

Anyway, that's where I stand on the matter. If you don't like it, fuck you. (Another meaningless phrase, I guess, since suggesting people they engage in an act they enjoy is hardly the same as damning them.)

Addendum, a few minutes later: it's just been pointed out to me that a good part of the reason you see words written with punctuation marks like that is because newspapers don't want to run afoul of FCC guidelines. True enough. So maybe my complaint is with the FCC and not individual writers. (I've seen people write emails with such punctuation marks; if you're writing me, that's not necessary.)

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