Posted by David
I was substitute teaching yesterday and my second class of students came in a furor, some were late, some were cussing, and some were just dealing internally. It’s my policy not to allow students to use profanity. When I hear cussing, I instantly make that clear. As usually happens, one kid was trying to trick me, by saying “ass” and then saying that he just meant a jackass or donkey. He got a referral and I didn’t see him again back in class. Then the students were outraged (also typical), “He didn’t cuss,” “I can’t believe he got a referral for that,” etc.
This prompted me to think, “What is wrong with cussing?” You find lots of adults that speak profanely. You hear adults tossing out non-profane words in profane ways, “god,” “shoot,” etc. I’ve spent my periods of time cussing also. It’s addictive in many ways. And it doesn’t even have to be a standard four-letter word. It can be some other sort of outburst, a quick, direct and painful statement, a mean jab, a belittling joke, etc.
The reason it is ‘wrong’ to cuss to others or even to oneself is because it is a jab, a poke, a barb. It is an outburst of pain and anger, usually directed at someone. If it’s not directed at someone, then it’s just an explosive, ejaculation of barbs that hits all those who are near. If no one is near, then the barbs land back on the source. It’s all about hurting others or oneself. We all have anger and pain, but it’s important that we not release it onto others.
Profanity is a weapon and it causes pain. Profanity is an explosion of anger that is no different than a bomb. The damage it does is to spread anger and to manipulate through the fear of pain, although this is usually done subconsciously.
Now, why don’t I allow it in a classroom or when others are in my care? To answer this we have to look at the idea of domains and the realms provided to authorities. In some ways everyone has an authoritative position over another person, everyone except the smallest of children. We all have people that go in and out of our domains. It might be students in a classroom. It might be our family members. If I was a teenager, then it might be my little sister or my friends if I have the unspoken ‘leadership’ role in a group.
People in our domains are given to us for protection. It is our role to provide safety and comfort for those who come in and out of our domains. As a substitute teacher, it’s my role to provide that protection to students. It’s my role to provide that protection to people in my house or even to people who are walking down the road with me.
The damage done by the malice of profanity in many ways cuts deeper than shrapnel from a grenade and can have longer lasting damage. Warfare is most effective when you don’t know where the enemy is hiding. Words provide a hideous hideout for our enemy. The enemy must be exposed.