There is nothing truly wrong with swearing. Go on. I dare you to disagree with me on any other grounds than sheer, shallow-minded conformism.

To publicly admit to enjoying the occasional profanity is apparently tantamount to coming out as a dedicated collector of old ladies’ toenails.  There are the usual remonstrations of foul language arming our young generation with guns, knives and bad music, and histrionic displays of revulsion from the sort of people who probably have Ofcom on speed dial. Yet, what no one ever seems to recognise is how much power we are giving this otherwise pretty harmless activity. Swearing isn’t some kind of new-fangled vice that was smuggled over here with a cargo of Colombian cocaine; it’s been around for centuries, exists in most languages and if we all simply got over it, and stopped making a monumental fuss every time Jeremy Clarkson had another bout of foot-in-mouth syndrome, we could actually go back to being a civilisation of adults again.

And let’s face it, swearing can be quite therapeutic, and I am not even talking about the scientific findings that suggest it can relieve pain. Whether it’s that classic stubbed-toe outburst or the seasoning on top of your description of a very unpleasant receptionist, swearing is a healthy, non-violent way to express frustration. It spices up comedy routines (in some cases, it is essentially the punch line) and along with sex, alcohol and eating cake for breakfast, defines the joys of being a grown-up.

Indeed, Stephen Fry couldn’t have put it any better when he ranted, “The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just fucking lunatic.”

Eric John

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