A lot has been said about swear words in print, but this recent NYT article (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/31/opinion/the-case-for-profanity-in-print.html?ref=opinion) had me thinking about how absurd it is to see an apocalyptic barrage of symbols, dancing off the keyboard — F*@k, Sh#t or A-hole. We all know the intended words. What are we, 5 year olds? It’s like fill in the blank for the deranged. You’re not fooling anyone with your @ sign, mister. Now man/woman up and insert the “u” and the “c” if you really mean it! Otherwise, make up words like, “You think I’m a cotton headed ninny muggins!”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a potty mouth. I don’t particularly enjoy swearing (unless it’s the holidays), or seeing it too often in print. But if I hit my head really hard on a sharp object (like I did the other day on the phone…stupid light fixture!), you better believe I’m not going to say, “Oh, gimmity cricket! Oh, good golly molly that hurt.” No, what flew out of my mouth was, “Shit!” Then, “Shit! Shit! Shit!” Then, “I’ll call you right back Ma! My goddamn head exploded!”
Lucky my kids weren’t there. I don’t like to swear around them. But like anything, there is a time and a place for it. Use it too much and you just look like an uneducated dimwit. Too little seems unrealistic and prudish. In my manuscript, I used a handful of swears appropriately. It was the kind of situation where one would definitely swear. Swearing works much the same way as nudity – don’t be gratuitous.
So hopefully when the NYT has to quote the next official’s potty mouth (ie tomorrow’s news), they don’t use silly symbols. That wink-wink-nudge-nudge business is like someone telling you a bad joke, then repeating it under the assumption you didn’t get it. Yeah, I got it you #$##@#%^&*^! (Which translates to: cotton headed ninny muggins.)