Monday, April 15, 2013

What the F*ck Is All This Sh*t?

Few things irritate me more than the faux civility of political correctness. Comedian Louis CK—the closest thing we have to George Carlin right now—does a great bit about how much he hates “the N word.” Not “nigger;” the phrase “the N word.” Excerpting his bit:

“…literally whenever a white lady on CNN with nice hair says: “The ‘N’ word.” That’s just white people getting away with saying nigger, that’s all that is. They found a way to say nigger. “N word.” It’s bullshit cause when you say the “N word” you put the word nigger in the listener’s head. That’s what saying a word is. You say the N word and I go oh she means nigger. Your making me say it in my head. Why don’t you fucking say it instead and take responsibility.”

Exactly. It’s the same with things like the twitter feed and book, Sh*t My Dad Says. I love SMDS. The book is even better than the feeds. The author has to use the asterisk so as not to offend large parts of the population, just as movie maker Kevin Smith had to call his book Tough Sh*t. Those on the right complain about “the Nanny State,” but they won’t let you put “shit” out there for public consumption; kids might see it. Some born-again family values guy—who, by the way, will only defend and promote his personal family values, whether he practices them himself or not—will have a hissy fit. These people apparently believe people see “sh*t” and their mind says, “Shasteriskt,” after which they immediately wonder what the f*ck that means.

We’re all adults here; no one is being fooled. (If you’re not, get your underage ass busy on your homework like your mother told you an hour ago.) “Sh*t” means “shit;” “f*ck” means “fuck.” “The N word” means “nigger,” just as “the F word” means “fuck.” (There sure are a sh*tload of f*cking ways to get around saying the F word.) We’re also not doing anyone any good.

There was a time when those with abhorrent views on race or homosexuality were easy to spot. Everyone knew the meaning of the words they used, even if there was some mealy-mouthing around the pronunciation of “nigruh” so they had the deniability of pleading they actually said “Negro” but the grits in their mouth made it come out that way. Now they have code words and will be shocked—shocked!—at even the implication you took offense at what they said. In fact, it is you who must be the racist, to assume an allegedly denigrating comment referred to “those people.” Air and sunlight are helpful in combatting any infection. Pretending things don’t exist doesn’t make them go away; it makes them stronger.

I’m not advocating coarse language in polite company. There are obviously places where “shit” and “fuck” and “nigger” are inappropriate. When in those situations, don’t use them. They generally have no reason to come up at all, and, when their definitions might be suitable in context (“He called Darnell out and Darnell fucked that nigger’s shit up”), work around it. (“Darnell gave him a beating.”) The only thing saying “Darnell f*cked that N-word’s sh*t up” accomplishes is insulting everyone’s intelligence.

If you don’t like foul language, don’t use it. If you don’t want to hear it, don’t go places where it’s likely to be used, and don’t be bashful about pointing it out to those who use it at inappropriate times and locations. Just don’t get cute with asterisks and first letters. Too many issues in this country—on both sides of the political spectrum—are exacerbated by people using words to mean what they want them to mean, and not what they really mean. You may claim you use “the N word” or “the F word” because you’re too polite and genteel to speak so coarsely, but you’re not sh*tting anybody.

1 comment:

Mike Dennis said...

I'm on board, Dana. When you start in with all this N-word bullshit, you set traps for yourself. For instance, you've got the N-word, the B-word, the C-word, and on and on. What happens when you run out of alphabet letters? Do you turn to the Greek alphabet? We'll all be talking about the rho-word and the omicron-word and so forth, but you know, you're going to run out of those letters sooner or later. Where do you go from there? Cyrillic script?

On the serious side, when you can't bring yourself to say "fuck" or "nigger" or "cunt" when it might be just the word you need, and when you resort to the alphabetizing of these words, you give them much more power than they deserve. NOT using the word is what gives that word its power. Using it at will strips it of its power.

Now, while I disagree with Louis CK when he implies that saying "the N-word" is an underhanded way of saying "nigger" by "making" the listener say it in his head, I totally agree with him when he says, "Why don't you fucking say it instead and take responsibility."

I've used "nigger" in most of my books, including multiple usage by the central character in SETUP ON FRONT STREET, and I've been called out on it a few times by the professionally offended. I won't bend, however, and I'll continue to use it when I think the situation calls for it.