June 22nd, 2013

Offensive Humor

by Wayno & Piraro

bz panel 06-21-13bz strip 06-21-13Today’s Bizarro is brought to you by Language.

If you take a moment to think about what the first and last words the human species spoke or will speak, you’ll likely come to the same conclusion as this cartoon.

For years I’ve done a lot of thinking about “taboo” words in general. To the best of my estimation, profanity, cussing, cursing, whatever you call it, has its roots in archaic superstition. When I ask myself why certain words are off limits and how that tradition started, I can only think that it began in ancient times when certain words or ideas were thought to offend a god of some sort. Today, most modern people don’t give that as the reason that they are offended by certain language. The most common explanation is that “it doesn’t sound nice.” But is that not simply because we’ve been taught to believe those words don’t sound nice?

Clearly, it isn’t the idea behind the word or the context in which it is used––we can see that with the innumerable ways people use the F-word, without it having anything to do with copulation. It isn’t what it means, in fact, it is completely socially acceptable to use any other word that refers to the act of sex without offending anyone. Clearly, it is the F-word in and of itself that holds some kind of spell over us.

Many words that used to be considered taboo are now accepted in polite society: “hell” and “damn,” for instance. These words obviously have a religious origin to their once-taboo status. The F-word (and I must continue to childishly refer to it as such so that my blog will continue to be considered “family friendly”[sigh]) may well have joined those ranks because more primitive societies felt the need to ban sexually explicit language for fear that it would incite lasciviousness; the same reason that some cultures still insist that women be covered with tarps when out in public. We now understand that casual language and the sight of a woman is not what causes men to behave poorly; some men are simply idiots and will act like barbarians no matter what incentive they are given. I blame it on an imbalance of testosterone and I.Q.

In my opinion, profanity only has power over us because we grant it. I don’t believe that any words should be off-limits and I daringly raised my children with that in mind. When they were small, I didn’t sternly ban certain words but instead I explained to them that many people would think they were “awful children” if they used them. Further, I told them they could use any word they liked as soon as they were old enough to fully understand the consequences of their use. Lo and behold, they took my advice and learned to cuss only in the proper circumstances and in front of the appropriate people. Knowledge is power, especially for children.

I am happy to see that thinking logically, reasonably, and independently is a growing trend among modern people. I suspect that eventually profanity will go the way of animal sacrifices and rain dances.

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