It’s always interesting to see how people will respond to stories and my recent piece on swearing for MSNBC.com has been no exception.
One fellow wanted to know — in all sincerity — why it was that only saying something like “Jesus F*cking Christ!” gave him any satisfaction. “JFC , much to my chagrin, seems to be my favorite curse … yet [it] makes me cower in fear for my soul,” he wrote. For a while, he apparently tried to use alternative curses, such as “Oh … Mahatma Ghandi!” or even “Ah Mahatma F*cking Ghandi!” but nothing did the trick like good ol’ JFC. The only insight I could give him was what I learned from my swearing expert, Dr. Timothy Jay, who said that the whole appeal of taboo words is that “they’re forbidden and we’ve been punished for saying them.” In other words, the reason it feels soooo good is because it’s soooo naughty.
Speaking of naughty, another reader sent the following:
Real men and ladies would never use the “F-bombs”!!!!!!!!!!!! Only “trash” like you, who belong in the sewer, would write about this in such a cavalier matter!!!!!!!!!!”
Naturally, I felt the overuse of exclamation points, unnecessary quotation marks and incorrect word choice a much greater sin than having written a fun story about swearing. But then, I’m a total word geek (and hardly alone judging by my recent piece on “spelling snobs”).
Worst response? The blogger who suggested that I’d picked up a particularly juicy quote “somewhere else” then built “an ostensibly legit story around it just so [I] could use it.” What do you think? Should I send her my 30 or so pages of transcribed interviews and three pounds of printed research? Or should I just say f*ck it and move on to the next choice assignment? ; )