Checking out some of the comments to posts on kottu I was struck by the rather common use of what is generally regarded as ‘profanity’. Defined as ‘language or behaviour that shows disrespect to God, any deity or religion”, I’m not sure that this definition could be really valid in this day and age as when I, for one, use profanity, ‘God’ never even enters my mind.

I find the use of profanity very useful in expressing myself and, as in just about everything, that’s probably all to do with conditioning. I do, however, reserve this use for the appropriate occasion and wouldn’t dream of being disrespectful or obnoxious to folk that I know would not be comfortable with the expressions. On the other hand, profanity is frequently used to intentionally hurt, to be insulting and to provoke, and even sometimes to impress. One commenter in particular caught my attention by his vehemence and his use of the vernacular spelled in English, which was both entertaining (in a strange sort of way) and frightening (also in a strange way). The funny part of it had to do with his expressions (and Sinhala profanity is so very descriptive isn’t it?) and the frightening part of it had to do with his extremism.

There was another guy who reacted to someone’s profane description of Buddhist priests with a compounded dose of profanity directed at Christian clergy. The weird thing about this is that all concerned were, in fact, stating the truth about the respective clergies. It is very odd, to say the least, to have Buddhist priests protesting an end to armed conflict that causes untold suffering and it is also totally unacceptable for Christian clergy to sexually abuse children. We are also well aware that ‘it take all kinds’ and that different types exist in all religious organizations and that being insulting to a system of belief due to aberrations in some of the officials, is hardly logical.

I guess what I’m trying to express is that the use of profanity should not be unacceptable in general, however, as in other aspects dealing with ‘rights’ of the individual, its use must be tempered with consideration for the implications.

More on this later perhaps?

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