Thursday, October 4, 2012

There Are No Bad Words

Whether you think salty language should be avoided or if it should be used for realism, you likely have an opinion on its propriety. (Warning: The below post contains some salty language by dictionary definition.)

Leave that opinion by the door, please. You're welcome to your preference. If you want to avoid it, want to use it, only want to use it when it fits the character and story—whatever your preference, that's fine.

I honestly don't care about that. Sometimes I don't want to read salty language, myself. Sometimes I don't care and have friends give me odd looks after they check out a recommendation.

However, by "salty" language I mean things like vulgarities. I don't write blasphemy (that's using any of God's names as an expletive), and I don't like reading or hearing it. I find it far more offensive than salty language.

I'm Christian. Even if "keep His name holy" weren't one of the Ten Commandments, why would I be glib about my own deity? Folks don't casually insult other religions' gods, not without backlash. But for some reason, to insult the Christian God (capped because it's a name) doesn't even give pause to most otherwise politically correct folks.

Not that I'm usually a fan of political correctness, but some things are just polite. If you're going to belittle my god (not a name here), at least be an equal opportunity offender.

But notice that my complaint here isn't about the use of things like "God" and "Jesus" themselves, as words. My complaint regards how they're used.

And that's even true of "salty" language: The usage is what's "bad", not the word itself.

Take damn. Meaning: Condemn to hell, a place of eternal torment. So to damn a person is to wish that the person would suffer from eternal torment.

That's not nice, so it's understandable why some people complain about (or want to avoid) uses of damn in reference to people.

But many folks go reactionary against all uses of the word, even cases where it's used in reference to its actual meaning.

However, to call the word itself bad is to say the problem is with the word, not the attitude behind its use.

How can a word be innately bad? (For the Christians among my readers, the question becomes: "How can a word cause someone to sin?")

Calling the word itself innately inappropriate, bad, or sinful is like calling a corset innately inappropriate, bad, or sinful.

Some corsets are underwear, which limits the situations wherein they're appropriate, and they're not useful for everyone. Some are outer wear—for medical or aesthetic purposes—and different styles and shapes suit different people.

But neither type of corset is suitable for, say, swimming. Or other situations wherein the wearer needs to breathe deeply. ^_^

Again, it's up to you if you want to avoid a specific type of word (or corset!). I put content advisories on my own stories for that purpose.

But gracious, at least acknowledge that the problem is the way the word is used, not the word in itself. The latter attitude misses problem entirely.

What are your thought on "bad" words?


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