There is a familiar philosophical discussion that goes on in our house. I won't say it's an argument, because frankly, neither myself nor Bubba can muster up enough passion on either side to escalate it that far. But it definitely showcases our differences of opinion. Here it is:
I say that context is more important than content when it comes to words. He says not necessarily all the time. For example, in the interest of not having other parents hate me in public, I've refrained from using my 'sailor speech' freely at home so as to not teach my children that these words are appropriate. I've substituted the word "crap" for just about every other 'naughty word' I would normally use except I occasionally use the word "friggin'" for some things (for example, "why is it so friggin' important for you two to fight about who sits next to the dog in the car?").
Bubba hates the word "crap." He has warned our children not to use it and takes exception whenever I utter it within his earshot. Bubba, true to his nickname, is not a shrinking violet. He married me knowing full well I could open my mouth and let fly a blue streak the likes of which would rival the Northern Lights. I think he actually found that amusing, if not attractive in some weird way. Now that we have children, however, there are certain words he despises, "crap" and "fart" being among them.
I tend to believe (and this is the logical argument I used on my mother when she forbade me to say actual curse words as a teenager) that words are nothing less than a collection of letters and pose no threat of their own until they are aimed in a certain way. Enter: context. For example, while it is not appropriate for me to call my brother a sh*thead, I see no reason why I can't be allowed to scream, "SH*T!" upon smashing my toe against the edge of the coffee table. I don't literally mean that there is a pile of excrement lying somewhere near me (although that would likely elicit the same response from me). I am simply using a self-satisfying phrase in order to express myself. Likewise, I probably should not refer to another human being as a dumbf*ck, but when I lock myself out of the car in the middle of the supermarket parking lot and peer inside the windows to see the keys dangling from the ignition, I will likely mutter, "F*ck!" Again, I am not referring to the act of coupling between two people - I am simply expressing my frustration. Bubba doesn't see it the same way. He believes that I ought to show a little restraint and respect for other people in public by not saying what immediately comes to my mind.
On the other hand, I take exception to occasions when Bubba tells our squabbling children to "shut up!" That, I feel is disrespectful and I don't want my children thinking that it is ever okay to talk to other people that way. I also want them to learn that calling people names or making fun of them is not okay. Not that Bubba does that very often, but occasionally he will make some snide remark under his breath say, when we pass a woman who has squeezed herself into a Spandex outfit the likes of which she shouldn't have worn 25 pounds ago, much less today. I think that using language in this way is much more damaging than simply saying those four-letter words we're all taught to avoid.
This discussion is happening more and more often as our eldest daughter finds herself listening to music that occasionally contains one or more of these trigger words. I've asked her to sing along until those particular words come up and then zip her lip to skip right over them. She understands that some of these words are offensive to others in public and, although she doesn't understand exactly what they mean, she is willing to play the game for now. Bubba thinks that I ought to just remove those particular songs from her available repertoire altogether until she is older.
Food for thought, readers. Weigh in with your opinion, please!
By the way, the argument worked brilliantly on my mother. Either I was terrifically convincing or I just managed to wear her down - I tend to believe it was the latter. I have a hard time staying quiet for long.... No, really.