What's With the F-Bomb? – Kveller
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What’s With the F-Bomb?

So what’s with the F-bomb?

It’s all over the place–the streets, the bus, the subway, people yelling into their cell phones, TV, even Kveller!

Whether used in all its 4-letter glory or coyly with asterisks or as the “F-bomb,” you just can’t escape it. Channeling the ghost of Lenny Bruce–is it just a word? What is a “dirty word,” anyway?

If the S-word ever escaped my lips when my kids were young, I’d quickly cover my mouth and, chagrined, admit that, “Mommy should not have used that word, sorry, and you should not either.” Except for the time when my younger son came home with his skateboard, a mouth full of blood, and missing his two front teeth…six weeks before his bar mitzvah. That time I screamed, “Holy s***!” and really, really meant it.

And I admit, now that my kids are grown and out of the house, the S-word is part of my vocabulary. But I still resist the F-word. I just don’t like it.

Hearing these words all over and all the time seems to take the sting and shock out of them. Is that the point? If it’s no longer shocking, is it okay to use? In “polite company?” With your parents? Your kids?

And why is a word used for disparagement, exaggerated emphasis, or in a context of violence (don’t f*** with me! What the f*** do you think you’re doing? He’s a f***-in’ liar!) also used as a verb for an act of extreme intimacy? Ever wonder about that? It’s the same with the word “screw.” What is with that? What does that say about sex and violence? Something? Anything?

Anyway, if your kid came home using the F-word, what would you say? What would you think of the kid he learned it from, and his family? (Unless, of course, he learned it from you and your family.) And how do you feel about your kid teaching that word to the other kids in the schoolyard?

I’m really curious–what do you think? Is it okay to use these “bad” words? Does it say anything about society, about the devolvement of civility? Are we all soon going to talk like George Carlin and Richard Pryor (of my generation) or Jon Stewart and Chris Rock (of your generation)? Why does using it in a comedic context make things funnier and get a bigger laugh? Is it actually funnier? Does it matter how we talk and what words we use to make our point? Do these words help ratchet up the rhetoric to levels that cross a line? Should people be more careful where and when they use these words? Does it matter if they give offense if used in a public space? Or does it matter not at all?

Help me out, here. What are you young parents thinking?

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