[opensource] CSE 560 advice

Adam Porr porr.4 at osu.edu
Sun May 21 19:05:31 EDT 2006

> You must have heard these words before, otherwise you wouldn't know that
> prudes have reserved them to ilicit shock.  If it weren't for reactions like
> yours, there wouldn't be "naughty words" at all.

You're absolutely right. I'm a sucker. I guess the prudes tricked me
into believing that the innocent phrase "fuck them" has a derogatory
meaning. I am curious, though, what meaning you would rather have me
assign to it. Perhaps I should also rethink words like "cloud" and
"tree" and  "rhododendron" to make sure that the standard English
interpretation is not incorrect for those also.

The fact is that words exist because they convey meaning. Certainly
over time the meaning of words that are currently considered profanity
will change and they will no longer be considered profane. However,
until that happens defending the use of intentionally offensive
language on the grounds that its offensiveness is arbitrary is just as
ridiculous as calling a "car" a "flibbit" just because you happen to
like "flibbit" better.

I wasn't offended by Drew's email. I use profanity occaisionally.
Sometimes it is worthwhile. Usually it is not. It always conveys the
meaning that I intend for it to convey. I almost never write profanity
because it is simply a waste of keystrokes. My email had two points.
They may not apply to you, but I would venture to say that many if not
most people would agree with me.

1. Many people get angry or defensive when you swear at them, which
reduces the effectiveness of the point that you are trying to make.
Somehow I don't expect that I'll be hearing a lot of profanity in
public speeches from politicians - even Libertarians.

2. I would prefer not to see profanity on the list. This is not a
demand. It is a politely stated request. I happen to think that the
world would be a better place if we all heeded politely stated
requests, particularly when it doesn't cost us anything to do it.

> If you were offended by Drew's email, you shouldn't visit Ireland.

That's funny... my wife spent some time in Ireland. She can't remember
hearing any profanity, let alone an excessive amount of profanity. I
think that I'll be OK.


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