I just watched the documentary “F**K” (or F*ck) and I was surprised at how even-handed it was, especially for something that seemed quietly for the use of the word. It gave just about equal time to each side, and while certainly not presenting either side’s very rational or empirical arguments (probably because they don’t have any) it was an interesting film. I recommend watching it – for the strong of ear.
Swearing is an interesting thing, and I would like to comment on one point – a lot of the rational for censorship I’ve heard from the right wing, certainly a lot from the other side is that swearing degrades our culture. Whether that is true or not, I don’t think one can make an argument that any culture was un-degraded, or kept from degradation by a large part of its population making sure people who use swear words are fined or imprisoned for it.
I think we are more defined by how much debate is struck up over these issues than by the issues themselves: do we really want to spend this much time and this much money debating some people’s use of a word? Aren’t there better things we can do with our time? What sort of wonderful, art-filled culture do the censors live in, that they want to preserve it, rather than advancing culture. It’s like the debate over Evolution – Ken Miller, P.Z. Meyers and Richard Dawkins have all said at one point or another that what the Intelligent Design people need to do is research and experimentation, and I think that’s fair – neither evolutionism nor intelligent design should be regarded as in such a wonderful place that more work, more research is not needed, and that’s really what the energy should go to – likewise, neither those who swear nor those who want to imprison those who do are in a right place, so long as they are not working to advance a culture, which is not advanced or degraded by its use of words, but by how hard it works to create a valuable, strong, and flexible culture.
But then again, maybe I’m wrong. Who knows. I need to do more research….