Right, so, before we start (are we going to start? I doubt we are going to get very far at this rate, especially since I am utterly thwarted by the highly technical task of trying to get the border working on this photo), let’s talk a bit about standards and decorum and language and rules and oh my gosh why are you still reading this?
So, here’s the deal: I may say fuck, I may generally use coarse language.
When I was a kid, I was really uptight. It was a point of pride in, like, seventh grade, that I didn’t curse like most of my peers did. I would call them out on it.
I was a little fucking prick, is what I was.
So this one afternoon, my friend Jason tricked me into saying “shit,” and it was kind of liberating. I remember saying it over and over and over again, standing at the corner near the school.
I know, I know, these are the sort of revelations that overprivileged first-world white kids get to have. Bear with me.
In addition, I think standards of discourse often have an invidious effect. I’m pretty persuaded that putting too many limits on how deliberation needs to be polite, and calm, and well-reasoned, and focus on working from what we can all agree is appropriate is likely to be elitist and exclusionary.
I mean, I am the elite, but the point stands.
Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to be coarse or to be angry or whatever, and sometimes I’m going to do it even when it’s not worthwhile. So, just to let you know, if this might prick your bubble.
As a good philosopher, though, I should deal with potential objections.
OBJECTION: ISN’T USING FOUL LANGUAGE JUST A CRUTCH FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T EXPRESS THEMSELVES IN A MORE INTERESTING FASHION?
Oh, fuck you, get a job. If you want Shakespeare, go to the rep theater or a picnic in the park or some shit. We all have lives, we have shit to do, sometimes the perfect biting turn of phrase doesn’t present itself.
And dismissing what someone has to say because of their “tone” is one of those exclusionary tactics I’m referring to above. It’s a way of not having to listen to people who don’t sound like the people who move in your circles. Again, I happen to be part of the elite, but if I make it sound like you need to talk like I talk when I’m writing journal articles to be part of the serious conversation, then you should flip me off.
OBJECTION: OH, SO YOU’RE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO TELLS IT LIKE IT IS AND WON’T PUT UP WITH THIS PC CRAP?
No, you’re not listening. People who announce that they “just tell it like it is” are looking for absolution for being an asshole. No, if you’re going to be an asshole, just own that. Should I otherwise assume you’re telling like it isn’t? If I say something, it’s because I believe it and I stated it the way I felt like stating it an if it’s a shitty way to say it, hey, I’ll take responsibility for being shitty instead of making some weak excuse that I’m compelled by the facts themselves to say it this way.
And there’s a huge difference between speaking coarsely sometimes and being anti-PC. Remember that stuff about exclusion, above? There’s a world of difference between breaking social norms to include people by saying, “you know what, talk how you like, use the vernacular, come with your half-baked arguments and your emotions and stuff,” and breaking the fragile inclusionary norms we have to say “I don’t fucking care if what I say belittles you.” ”PC” rules of discourse are there for a reason, it’s precisely because assholes like me have spent too long thinking it’s “normal” to shit on other people in conversation and remind them that we’re number 1 and they’re number 10.
So, again, fuck you, own it. If you want to say shitty things about women or blacks or whatever, say it. Don’t pretend it’s the same as me saying “fuck.” Don’t pretend you’re being subversive. You’re just a misogynist/racist/whatever and either own up to it or change.
TL;DR LISTEN FOR THE SIGNAL, BRING THE NOISE