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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
bassen BS: Asterisk Euphemism (58* d) RE: BS: Asterisk Euphemism 08 Nov 99

This is probably gonna be one of my usual too-late-and-off-the-point postings but that's what I do apparently…

Outside the Phys.Med.department of the White Memorial Hospital in East LA, it's 1955 and I'm five going on six, my friend Georgie Gonzales told me there was this really dirty word that sounded like "fork", so we went around saying "fork" all day and giggling. But then I should have realized that Georgie was less than reliable when he told me that they used ten foot long bull whips in Juvy, but I was only five right? In any case, with a sister five years older than me, I soon got the spelling and pronounciation right. The kids know, don't fool yourself.

Nonetheless, I grew up in a faith where profanity and taking the name of the Lord in vain were definitely high up on the no-no list, hence my profuse use of Christ! , Jesus! and motherfuck from about the age of 14 on. But as others have observed, profanity loses its power if overused and in my case, a wandering life soon allowed me to swear in french and/or norwegian with some proficiency so as to avoid offending whatever sensibilities surrounded me.

I too have reacted with disdain and incredulity at what I saw as the nambypamby use of asterisks here in the forum until today: today I read in Salon magazine about a professor who got fired for saying "nigger" in a class on interpersonal communication where the professor wanted to talk about taboo words and their historical evolution. The professor was demonstrably not a racist, but was fired nonetheless after a student protested against the utterance of the word. It didn't matter that he wanted to discuss why the word had gained the negative power it had, how that came about, what the origin of the word was. The word that must not be uttered was uttered and context was irrelevant. In other words, what he meant was irrelevant to communication. Just to let you non-US 'catters know that asterisks are definitely called for in some situations.

I realize more and more that much has changed in the years since I left the US…


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