This vulgar language used by the first lady of Illinois has set off quite a furor in the press, which has caused me to evaluate my own views on swearing. I'm no stranger to it. First of all, I live with an Irishman, and cursing is an integral part of his vocabulary. He can get away with it because his accent makes everything sound charming and and also because Americans don't fully appreciate the nuances of his invectives. "That's complete bollocks!" may sound jolly and quaint to us, but it's actually considered very rude back in Cork, along the line of our "bull-bleep."
Also, I live with a 15 year-old boy. I'm sure Nick and his friends swear cheerfully at each other all the time, but rarely in front of me. I'm not too concerned with the adolescent potty talk, but I constantly remind the boys to be discreet. "Guys, while 'sucks' and 'pissed' are not technically curse words, it is disrespectful to use them in the presence of adults." Yes, Mrs. Killeen.
I think the heart of the issue comes down to respect and knowing your audience. Therefore, when I am all alone in the car and some jerk cuts me off, I feel no shame in calling the guy a stupid dumb-a**. Using the term makes me feel better and doesn't offend anyone.
But what about the F-word? I admit, I do use the "ing" version on occasion, mostly to add emphasis or humor to a story I'm telling socially. It makes me feel a bit naughty too, a feeling that's harder to come by in my forties. But perhaps using the big bleep detracts, rather than adds to my conversation. As the saying goes, "Profanity is the weapon of the witless."
At least I'm selective in my use of F-word variations. For me, the F-you, the F-er and the foul Mother F-er forms are absolutely taboo. Based on the FBI tape, the Blagojeviches (especially Rod) have no such scruples. They used the word in all it's flagrant forms. But honestly, the language isn't what shocks me.
What shocks me is the Governor of my state seems to have been auctioning off Barack Obama's Senate seat to line his own pockets. Now that's obscene.