Let’s say a few words about "fuck."
You might have missed it, but last week’s Saturday night post caused some serious pearl-clutching over in Greater Wingnuttia. See, what happened is that I said "fuck": scented handkerchiefs were raised to trembling nostrils, fainting couches were fainted upon, panties were knotted. This fellow took the trouble to count the "fucks" and came up with 13; chez moi I remarked that this proved he blogs with his socks off, a joke he didn’t get, unsurprisingly. He also missed why it’s funny to shriek about how awful someone is when they say "fuck" and then call them an "F-Tard." Perhaps it will come to him in time. (Credit where it’s due; James Joyner was able to respond to the substance of the post thoughtfully, and even more so to my rejoinder.) My very favorite response to my potty mouth, though, came from this fellow in comments at Whiskey Fire, though, who said, and I quote:
I suspect that Christy Hardin Smith, Digby, and others toes are curling at this man’s crudity.
I was able to confirm in an email exchange with Christy that she is indeed pretty fucking toe-curlingly appalled, and that I should cut that shit right the fuck out, for the love of fuck. I was duly fucking abashed.
(More good shit below the fold!)
Conservative bloggers have speculated that my use of "fuck" indicates that I possess an impoverished vocabulary, a thesis that I reject as pretty fucking stupid and in fact rather cromulent. Actually, I curse online as a conscious choice. Back in the early days of blogs I used to go into comments sections and try to, you know, persuade conservatives that, like, the proposed invasion of Iraq was perhaps not such a great idea. And what happened was, after a colloquy that sometimes lasted literally weeks at a time, what resulted was my interlocutor politely informing me that we would "agree to disagree" and that he (almost always "he") had quite enjoyed "breaking a lance" with me and that he fully expected me to join hands with him and sing a solemn hymn to Comity and then we’d go light a candle upon the altar of Civilized Discourse.
And, privately, I was thinking to myself, this is fucking insane. A lot of people are going to die for no rational reason, and here we are acting like we’re all hot fucking shit because we don’t say "fuck."
And you know what I did next?
I started to say "fuck" quite a lot, and I began to tell the people who were deliberately fucking up my country and causing a lot of fucking pointless carnage that they were a bunch of fucking horrible sociopaths and that I fucking hated them.
And it’s been clear fucking sailing ever since.
I don’t know where anyone ever got the idea that the Internet should be a place for the reasonable exchange of ideas between people of differing political beliefs, but such an idea is in my experience misguided at best and at worst actively dangerous. "Civility" is not a virtue in itself, but a mechanism, a way of facilitating discourse: when someone is determined to say any fucking shit they want as a way of getting whatever they want and to loudly insist that they are in the right just because the other side is mean and vulgar when they point out, accurately, that they are little more than a vicious gang of crazy-assed lying motherfuckers… well, fuck civility. Truth is a higher virtue by several orders of magnitude.