“Well Bleep” A new case for profanity

Glenn W. Harrell

I just read where homework may well be damaging to our children and their self-esteem. While getting over the shock of that study, I hear a conversation on NPR that espouses the true and mighty benefits of cursing. It turns out that those of us who curse, (use profanity) are actually “more honest people”. I never knew. When I told this to a middle-school teacher, she said, “@**%**”. No, I’m just kidding—she did not. But she did laugh a bit as she drifted back off into that scary, MSTD, middle school teacher daze. There’s a study for that too.

In almost every case, these types of studies rely on “forward, progressive thinking” followed by a sermon on the joys of permissiveness. Where once we were blind, now, thanks to a new, tolerant, progressive, better educated and much more informed directive, we can see more clearly.

I suppose one of the best ways to promote the many health benefits of using foul language is to find someone who has a doctorate in something remotely related, who will readily champion the cause. Here is such a Dr. who has found that cursing and cussing can make us feel stronger. According to Doc Stephens, even stronger curse words will elicit herculean postures.

“Dr. Richard Stephens said: ‘The video games made people feel more aggressive so their language became more emotional and they swore. This explains swearing and makes it more acceptable. ‘We want to use more taboo words when we are emotional. We grow up learning what these words are and using these words while we are emotional can help us to feel stronger. ‘Some words are more taboo than others – but the effects can be greater, the stronger the word.”  The Daily Mail-  May, 2014

Dr. Neel Burton, in the May 2012 Psychology Today, gives us 7 good reasons, marvelous psychological benefits, for why we might want to let-er-rip on demand. It all looks legit to me, but aren’t there any common non-doctors out there that we could believe? How about that one doctor from the “three out of four”? Why did he jump ship? And even still, I have more questions that remain unanswered. Like,

Who gets to determine or define what is

“foul”, “vulgar”, obscene”, “dirty”, “calloused”, or “profane”?

Everyone wants in on this action–

the rapper, comedian, minister, news reporter, game show host and his producer, the entertainment industry, gamer, school principal, artist, and anyone in the food service industry as a server. (Waitresses get “hot servings” on a regular basis)

Somehow, it only seems right that our men in blue should have a say-so too. Most every cop show I watch shows the police officer holding his tongue and the arrested criminal is, well…you know, demonstrating his honesty, virtue and intense integrity.

One preacher was asked why he didn’t cuss when he miss-hit the golf ball, and when it went into the water. He commented that he wasn’t allowed to curse and that “wherever he spat, the grass wouldn’t grow”.


NPR and other media outlets have debated Bleep vs. no Bleep for some time now. The Motion Picture Industry just assumes profanity. The FCC actually has a complaint center where you can report “indecent speech”. And how do they define “indecent”?

“Under FCC rules, broadcast indecency is “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” By “contemporary community standards,” the FCC means the standard “of an average broadcast viewer or listener, and not the sensibilities of any individual complainant.”

After that statement, are you any better informed? Who then might we call on to define “contemporary community standards”How about we chose “an average broadcast viewer or listener” to make this call. Still in the dark? Me too.


I keep thinking that judges ought to be honest people. Judy is on my top 3 list. I even thought of writing her in for president. Now, I must consider her as dishonest because she never curses on her show. If I somehow knew that she had plenty-o-potty-mouth when she got home to hubby, I might feel better about her and have a restored confidence in the bench.

Other perplexing thoughts I have, besides how Jerry Springer’s awe inspiring “final thought” never has a curse word, is why, with cussing and profanity being so popular and healthy and all that, we don’t seem to be any better off as a people. Road rage is not going down because they “got it out of their system”. Bullying without cursing just seems a huge contradiction. And where would spousal abuse be without a good line of hurtful speech?

Children, not needing the purported adult benefits, are subjected to early onset vulgarity (visual and aural) at younger and younger ages. Ask any elementary, much less middle school, teacher just how expressive their kids can be with their copy-cat-lingo. Ask the administration and professional psychologist if they feel that these children are somehow “healthier and more honest” because they use degrading words as captured from all those “free, progressive and honest adults”.


Angry society is running out of adjectives suitable for the release of their venom. Cursing, just like a drug, needs more and more for the same desired effect. Those of us who curse may not be, as some say, illiterate, but we are bound to the debased side of life.

Choosing not to curse or creating alternate words for outlets of human emotion remain great options.

MASH Col. Sherman T. Potter had a few good ones, like “Horse Hockey” and “Buffalo Bagels”. Red Skelton, and a host of early comedians, found ways to our funny bone without taking angry sarcasm to the sick levels we see and hear today. Even some of the most free-speech news outlets are inserting the bleep.


Christians, (not the average broadcast viewer) if they seek to please God, are instructed to practice their faith in ways that do not include cursing. Why? Because there is an inherent duplicity for them in the act of cursing. No matter how permissive or justified for others, we know the truth about it for ourselves. Not using profanity does not make us morally superior to those who do, it simply defines our existence. Profanity doesn’t send people to hell, it just makes them sound like they made a visit there and studied linguistics.

 “My friends, with our tongues we speak both praises and curses. We praise our Lord and Father, and we curse people who were created to be like God, and this isn’t right. Can clean water and dirty water both flow from the same spring? (James 3:9-11)

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6)

 “The food that you put into your mouth doesn’t make you unclean and unfit to worship God. The bad words that come out of your mouth are what make you unclean.” – Jesus  (Matthew 15:11)

The new case for profanity then is but the same old one re-packaged for that New and Improved appeal.

 “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”   I Thessalonians 4:7-8

One comment

  1. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45


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