Sugar isn’t always sweet

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By John Pawlak

What the (expletive deleted) is wrong with a little (expletive deleted) swearing now and then? I mean, (expletive deleted) ... (expletive deleted) people can’t take a little (expletive deleted) joke? Who the (expletive deleted) cares about their (expletive deleted, reinserted, deleted again, rewritten back in French, translated to ancient Greek and then deleted again) opinion!!??

What exactly is swearing and why does it bother people? Would you get mad if I swore at you in Latin? Come to think of it, did the Romans even swear? When Caesar staggered back with two dozen stab wounds, he retorted  “Et tu, Brute?”

Holy gerundives, is that the best he could come up with? Personally, I would have used that last breath to tell Brutus something about his sister and the horses pulling his chariot.

Today, no one really cares if you swear in Latin. I think I would enjoy swearing in Ega (an ancient language known by about 300 people in the Ivory Coast), releasing a volley of Egan curses in public now and then just for the fun of it.

Of course, it’s just my luck an Ivory Coast tour group would be in the neighborhood and I’d go down in history for starting yet another obscure war. In that event, we can only hope that we’ll find oil over there.

Seriously though, why is it that a simple word yelled in pain when you stub your toe considered so taboo that you can be arrested for it?

Your civil liberties give you the right to stand in a public park and shout to the world that the President is a moron and should be impeached (I did this often in the early 70s), but you can’t yell out  “shirt” unless you enunciate the  “r.” What is or isn’t vulgar seems to be relegated to one’s imagination, and there seems to be a lot of imaginative people in the world.

The use of vulgarity goes back long before written history. This is a tragic shame since it means that some really good curse words were probably lost through the ages. Many an early caveman stubbed his toe in those rocky homes back then. In addition to some vulgar grunting, rude gestures also have a long history.

For example, consider this one. (--------) You probably didn’t see what I just gestured, did you? Man, that’s a shame. It was a really good one.

Well, now you understand the limitations of the written word.

The word ‘vulgar’ is rooted in the Latin ‘vulgaris,’ meaning common or ordinary. Essentially, the common folk (or mob) were viewed as unpleasant and distasteful. Being one of the common folk, I do understand this sentiment. But where does distasteful end and vulgar begin? Is being commonplace considered vulgar because vulgarity is so commonplace? Which came first, the gross chariot or the foul-mouthed horse?

And what’s more offending, the word or its meaning? When someone whacks their thumb with a hammer, they can yell out  “Sugar!” and not get hit with a bolt of lightning. Even  “fudge” is allowed, as long as they don’t overly enunciate the  “f .”

Does anyone really not know what is being said? It seems that we can say pretty much anything we want, as long as we don’t say what we mean. Kind of makes us all politicians, doesn’t it?

When you think about everyday expressions that involve cursing, you have to wonder why so many people want relations with your horse. Or what poor guy gets to clean the fan. Seriously, do people really want you to perform some circus-flexing trick and self-propagate?

Why my etymological interest in the vile vernacular? What’s causing my curiosity in commonly crude conversations?

Well, it’s just that I’ve lost the ability to recognize what is vulgar and what is not. A four-letter word is vulgar, but a multi-trillion dollar debt is not? A protruded finger is vulgar, but one third of our nation’s homeless being war veterans is not?

It’s acceptable to ask someone to go to war and die for some oil company, but it’s vulgar for the soldier to tell you that he’s gay? People are comfortable with knowing that more than 50 million Americans have no health care coverage, but they get offended if a woman breast feeds her baby in public?

Vulgarity is indeed in the eyes, minds and actions of our citizens and sadly, vulgarity seems to be a national pastime. Watching where our leaders over the past decade have been taking this country, I sometimes feel like a little vulgarity is in order.

You just might see me back in the park one day yelling about it, but I’ll probably do it in Egan. You know, just to be safe.