Choose your words wisely

The Oracle

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By Annie Tran:

As an American teenager, swearing isn’t a question of morality, but rather a way of life. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve dropped an F-bomb or used a certain variation of the word poop. These words are practically unnoticeable to the teenage ear, but does this make it any better? While one may argue that profanity is just an immediate reaction or an easy way to “express” your feelings, let’s face it—that’s a crock of poo. As pretentious as this may sound, the use of profanity and slurs truly are just crutches for the lazy and uneducated mind.

As pretentious as this may sound, the use of profanity and slurs truly are just crutches for the lazy and uneducated mind.”

Just a simple stroll around the campus results in hearing the kind of language that should be replaced by stars and bleeps. These words have become so commonplace that censorship has become lenient to the point where we fail to remember why swear words were considered taboo in the first place. We fail to consider the power behind profanity. These few words challenge humanity’s flaws and also point out our self-consciousness about topics such as sexuality, religion and race.

Although I must admit that I myself am a hypocrite when it comes to swearing, there are times when I wonder: what do these phrases even mean? Why is the use of “bitches” and “whores” okay when referring to our friends? They’re honestly just filler words we kids throw in there to make ourselves look or feel cool.

Profanity and slurs inadvertently target and dehumanize ourselves as well as our peers. The ever-so-popular word “bitch” is used constantly and inappropriately. It devalues not only women, but men as well, referring to them as weak or cowardly. In addition, degrading words, like “slut” and “ho,” dismiss anyone seen as being “overly” sexual and perpetuates negativity towards sex. These words have come to greater popularity when referring to someone who is particularly disliked, regardless of their sexual activities.

Other slurs, such as homo, gay, retarded or lame, have the same power as swear words. It has been stressed again and again by our community that saying “that’s so gay” or “no homo” is not okay, yet many of us continue to integrate those phrases into our daily vocabulary. I understand that many of us don’t even mean it in an offensive way. However, by repeating these slurs, we are unintentionally reinforcing the idea that being homosexual is somehow bad by stressing one’s heterosexuality, masculinity or femininity. This same idea is attached to the infamous “That’s so gay” catchphrase of our era, and it stigmatizes the groups associated with them.

Some could claim that by using profanity and slurs casually and actively, they are showing how the words themselves have lost their power among society, but that way of thinking is wrong in itself. The fact that we continually put these words into use without thinking about its meaning debases a society that prides itself on being civilized.

When does our generation’s apparent addiction to swearing stop? Most people swear; it’s an obvious given. Most will probably continue to swear after reading this column, and honestly, it’s true—we probably can’t help ourselves in certain situations. However, we should be more aware of what we’re saying and the connotations that follow those words, as well as the timeliness of those words. If profanity simply becomes an annoying succession of bleeps, then people obviously get a bad impression of you and it shows that you can’t express yourself in a coherent manner. We’re a classy school. Remember that, and show it.