What’s in a word?

Brian asked me a question this evening that I didn’t quite know how to answer:

“Why is using the word ‘fuck’ so bad?”

Hmmm, ok.

Let’s see.

I could explain the idea of social norms to him. We could talk about “polite society” and why it’s not “proper” to use “bad” words in public. And let that be the end of it.

I could do all of that.

But I wouldn’t be answering his actual question. His question was “Why?”

So I started thinking…

Why is using the word ‘shit’ any worse than ‘crap’ any worse than ‘bad’?

“That statement is bullshit.”
“That statement is crap.”
“That statement is bad.”

The last one is fine. The first one is not so. And yet, all three of them are simply syllables that form words. Why are they any different?

The real difference is the meaning to which we give these words. It is a tangible example of how we define ourselves as a (collective) people. As well as who we are as individuals. How we have agreed to live and communicate.

If we deem the word ‘shit’ as bad, then we have all agreed that its usage is discouraged because of its “bad”-ness.

The best example I can think of is the use of the word ‘nigger’. In the worst usage, it is a (terrible) slur against African Americans and, really, any people of color. But think about it this way. It’s only a slur when used in a certain context by a certain group of people.

If that word is used by a certain homogeneous group of like-minded individuals, its usage is not considered bad or hurtful. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“What up, my nigger?” is something that I have heard by (African American) friends addressing each other. Its usage denotes a sense of oneness, a togetherness, that is shared by those individuals within that group. It’s used in a loving manner, not a hateful one. It’s accepted. And it’s accepted because those within that group have agreed that its usage with one another is acceptable.

Conversely, when used in an entirely different homogeneous group of like-minded individuals (let’s use the KKK as an example here), its usage denotes a sense of hatred and revulsion. And it’s for the same reason. The individuals within that group have all agreed and accepted the fact that the word means something “bad”.

A less polarizing example would be the word ‘love’. We all understand that the use of the word ‘love’ denotes a deeper connection, a deeper sentiment than the use of the word ‘like’. Why? They’re just words, right? But they mean what they mean because we have given them that meaning.

So what did I end up telling Brian about using the word ‘fuck’?

I told him that we, as a group of people, as a society, have determined that the word ‘fuck’ is not to be used in public. It is impolite in an improper context.

And why?

Basically, because WE said so.

Department of WTF: Case #612

Woman Sues After Police Destroy Her Home During 10-Hour Standoff With The Family Dog

So, when given a key and consent from the occupant, officers instead chose to grab an armored vehicle and go through several windows and the attic. Even if they believed the suspect might be dangerous, there has to be some middle ground between full-scale assault and simply unlocking the door and stepping inside.

This happened back in 2014 but there’s been no coverage of the Caldwell cops’ 10-hour, one-dog standoff until now. Thomas Johnson of Fault Lines suggests that might have something to do with the local paper of record.

I can’t stop laughing/crying at the ridiculousness of this…

Teenage girl struck and killed in SE Portland

Teenage girl struck and killed in SE Portland: driver arrested

Witnesses say one car stopped to let the girl cross and then the gold Lexus went around the car that was yielding to the teenager.

“A lot of people will stop and let people go but other people won’t notice that’s what they’re doing,” Dunagan said. 

The girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

Horrifying and utterly avoidable. Just tragic.

Life’s Too Short to Fold Boxers

Boxers live in drawers. They are not displayed for visiting company. They are not meant to be an object of desire. They serve a purpose. It’s certainly not a glamorous one, but a necessary one. They are not designer. They are Hanes or Fruit of the Loom. They strive to be utilitarian.

In recognition of that, I feel they do not need to be coddled. They don’t need to be crease-free. They will be under jeans or slacks or shorts, which will, by definition, shape them to your leg’s outline anyway.

Therefore, I don’t feel the need to fold them.

That’s right. I said it.

Call: “Hello. I’m Lee, and I do not (normally) fold my boxers.”
Response: “Hi, Lee!”

I don’t have a space shortage in my boxers drawer. No need to cram. No need to spend the time to make them ergonomic. They’re fine. They are welcome to fall where they may.

Time is precious to me.
Having my boxers neatly folded is not.

Life’s too short.

Lights

Sitting on the edge of the river walk on a beautiful and clear Seattle night, I see lights emerge in the sky. They seem to burst into life, as if from the heavens. They are streaking across the sky, left to right. On their way to oblivion.

Yet, they turn when they are almost out of view. And they head toward me. Growing bigger as they get closer. The lights suddenly light a trail in the water below. Shimmering. Dancing. On their own way through the night.

These lights grow larger and larger, until they start to form their own unique shape. There’s one light. No two. No, now even four.

The plane passes overhead. It’s booming sound cutting into the gentle lapping of the waves. It passes straight overhead. And I look up to watch it float over me.

As I bring my head back down, I look across the water again. And there they are. More lights emerging from the heavens. And the dance begins again.