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Source: (consider it) Thread: How bad is bad language?
Barnabas62
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This OP follows a few exchanges in the Styx and I thought it might be worth a thread.

I was arguing that swearing is not necessarily malevolent speech, that malevolent speech does not require swearing. I think malevolent speech is certainly something Christians are under guidance to avoid, both from scripture and tradition. But a lot of expletives, whether or not deleted, are not used malevolently at all. Sometimes they are just used for emphasis, sometimes they are just expressions of surprise or pain. IMO, swearing is not the same as cursing.

The other issue was blasphemy, particularly taking the Lord's Name in vain. What strikes me is that many people of little or no faith may often blaspheme without any clear understanding that they are doing so. The commandment against blasphemy seems to be addressed to believers, for others I think it's often just noise.

Personally I swear very little, do my best to avoid malevolent speech and don't blaspheme. But I'm much more bothered by malevolent speech than bad language. Other views would be appreciated.

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Zappa
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In the last eighteen months my vocab, not least on the Ship, has begun to revert somewhat to what it was forty years ago at boarding school "words I never heard in the bible." Is it age, misfortune, backsliding?

Personally I think that words are of more or less neutral value. I do let rip here because in my 30 years as a stipendiary priest there were few other venues in which I could express myself with unadulterated passion. Still - context is everything. On the whole I calculated that most people, even though They TTWACW (or is it WS?) would cope with raw anger.

As it happens I don't swear in front of Kuruman (who doesn't swear) or our children (who I am sure do, but you know, encouragement and all that ...) ... my adult first family offspring, not so much inhibition.

While I don't think "using the Lord's name in vain refers to saying "Oh God" "OMG" etc, I do try to avoid it as I believe it cheapens something, someone divine. But I admit "God" has slipped into my vocab of late. I'm not proud of that. However I think the biblical injunction is more about performance abuse rather than vocal abuse ... if I claim to be a Christ-bearer but use my position as a means by which to exploit the vulnerable then I have indeed used the Lord's name in vain.

I don't think I have more than once or twice since my coming to faith 40 years ago used "Jesus" or "Christ" in an expletive form. I hope not. I may be a wanton liberal but Jesus is my companion, and I have no wish to denigrate or hurt him.

I am trying to write a novel at the moment. One of the main character uses "fuck" and less often "shit" in am myriad ways. It's just her. Another says "Christ" when he thinks he's dying. Both are necessary to the integrity of the plot and character, and I hope I won't burn in hell. I'll use a non de plume anyway, so God won't know who wrote it.

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mousethief

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Sample 1: I'm going to take away your health insurance and assistance. If you want a better life you have to work for it, even though I am doing nothing to create more jobs that you are qualified for, or help you qualify for better jobs.

Sample 2: Fuck that shit.

Which is more offensive?

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cliffdweller
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Reminds me of the almost-apocryphal Tony Campolo story of when he was preaching at a conservative Christian college and said "10 million children will go to bed hungry tonight and most of you don't give a shit"

Then he went on to say, "but that's not what really bothers me. What really bothers me is that most of you are more upset that I just said 'shit' than that I just said 10 million children go to bed hungry"

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Stetson
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But in what direction are we throwing stones when it comes to the double-standard accusation?

If someone in the SOF's Purgatory forum advocates the implementation of a totally for-profit, devil-take-the-hindmost health-care system(as per Mousethief's example), the mods will likely have little if anything to say about that. But if someone else comes along and calls that guy a "f*****g a*****e", he will be informed in no uncertain terms that such language is unacceptable in Purgatory, and to take it to Hell if he wants to continue in that vein. And if he persists in using those words in Purgatory, he'll be subject to mod sanction, up to and including suspension.

The point is, even on a relatively urbane, enlightened forum like this one, there is still a special taboo reserved for certain words and phrases, even if we give a pass to IDEAS that many would consider offensive.

(And just for the record, nothing in the above should be construed as criticism of the moderating policies I mention. I think a good case could be made for handling things that way, though it might skirt somewhat into anthropological territory, eg. why we fetishize certain words in and of themselves as having deeper significance than the ideas they're being used to express.)

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Arethosemyfeet
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I think you're in error there, Stetson. It's not the words that would need to be taken to hell but how they're directed. You can say that something is a fucking terrible idea without trouble but using no "swear words" but calling someone a "puss-filled buboe on the left buttock of humanity" would still attract hostly attention.
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Barnabas62
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Stetson

Actually, Commandment 3 does not preclude bad language used scornfully about the quality of ideas. To paraphrase the guidelines, you can certainly say this

'Fucking Hell! That is the most stupid pile of steaming horse shit I have ever read!". It is just an emphatic way of saying "Your opinion is stupid".

But what you cannot say, in Boards outside of Hell, is this.

"You are without doubt a stupid pile of steaming horse shit and a fucking excuse for a human being!". That is an emphatic way of saying "you are stupid".

And to underline the point, none of those remarks is malevolent in the sense of wishing bad on someone else. The ones prohibited are a personal attack because they demean someone else, rather than scorning the value of their opinion.

Here's an example of what I would call malevolent speech.

"I hope someone blows your brains out and rids the world of your poisonous presence".

Or the threatening "I know where you live".

They are very likely to get you suspended or banned immediately, even if thought to be hyperbole.

I think our Commandments are pretty good in drawing distinctions between demeaning opinions, demeaning Shipmates, and malevolent hate speech. And that final category strikes me as by far the worst kind of bad language, swearing or not.

(X post, obviously).

[ 16. September 2017, 06:37: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Stetson
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I stand corrected. Thanks.

[ 16. September 2017, 06:46: Message edited by: Stetson ]

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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
Reminds me of the almost-apocryphal Tony Campolo story of when he was preaching at a conservative Christian college and said "10 million children will go to bed hungry tonight and most of you don't give a shit"

Then he went on to say, "but that's not what really bothers me. What really bothers me is that most of you are more upset that I just said 'shit' than that I just said 10 million children go to bed hungry"

I did hear him preach this (at Spring Harvest), so I know it did happen.

I don't swear in my speech. It is something that reflects my conversion change - I used to be a standard foul-mouthed teenager.

But the way life has been, I find it is the only way I can express the pain and anguish inside. And, for me, it is cathartic to swear sometimes. It is mainly on these boards and Twitter, as well as, sometimes in my writing. Although my latest work has no swearing in it at all.

I also find, on twitter, it is easier to write "You fucking shit" than "You supperating postule on the syphilic behind of a flatulent waster" which has no swearing in it.

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rolyn
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Effing and jeffing is cultural. We tend to hear it in social situations a lot more since it became acceptable in films, then later on TV programmes including the casual setting of the mock panel game.
My own swearing, (which is meant more for humorous effect rather than to deliberately cause offence), is dependent on the the environment. If the f- word is generally used in a working situation then I'll use it, or even when on my own. The C- word is falling out of favour as the penny continues to drop over the causing of offence to females.

The decline of blasphemy has gone hand in hand with the decline of the church's influence in people's lives. Which stands to reason.

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Baptist Trainfan
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A well-spoken Methodist colleague once said in a Good Friday sermon that "Jesus died and took all the shit of the world on his shoulders". It made a profound impression.
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Cathscats
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I cannot swear. It's a product of the way I was brought up (well, of course). If I were to swear, in speech or on these boards I would instantly know I was playing a part, not being sincere. It's a pity, because there are times when it would be good to swear. When I was a theological student something nasty happened (I actually forget what, it was to do with a relationship). My friends urged me to swear and get it out of my system. I couldn't. But it was great when one friend, who was a master of profanity offered to do it for me and let loose the most incredible sting of invective and expletive! There is a time for it. But of course the time and place was in private, and not in the presence of the person who had caused the offence.

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Callan
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I once had a Scottish colleague who was fairly foul mouthed. On one occasion I had slipped out for lunch and came in after he had had a fairly difficult exchange on the phone with another colleague. I don't claim to be purer than the driven snow on this issue, but I was generally less given to casual profanities than most of the people I worked with, and they put two and two together and thought that this was because I had conscientious objections to bad language because of my faith (not entirely correct). So I stepped back into the office with my sandwich and bag of crisps whilst my esteemed colleague is anticipating Malcolm Tucker in expressing his exact opinion of his colleague. Obviously, he twigs my presence and offers an apology. "I'm sorry, Callan, I know that you are a man of faith, and I know you don't use that kind of language. But it's just that X is a total cxxt!"

It was a genuine shock to him that everybody present collapsed in hysterics.

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MaryLouise
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I have two older friends, a married couple, who swear freely and copiously. They say they like to shock the bourgeoisie.

Their four-year-old granddaughter came to stay with them for a week and I went over for lunch. As we were standing outside in the garden, the little girl saw a large grasshopper leap closer to her across the lawn.

'Piss off, you wicked fucker!' she shouted and gave it the finger.

I don't think I've ever seen two non-bourgeois grandparents look so shocked. Children learn by imitation.

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Eirenist
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There is the probably apocryphal story about the little girl who, after hearing the Christmas narrative, asked 'But Mummy, why did Mary and Joseph call the baby after a swear word?'

My main objection to most 'bad language' is that it is so unimaginative.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:

I was arguing that swearing is not necessarily malevolent speech, that malevolent speech does not require swearing.

What do you mean by malevolent? I've used creative and direct swearing pointed directly at shipmates. I've sometimes meant it to convey real anger, disgust, contempt and the like. And I regret only a few instances. However, I've never meant any of it to convey any desire of real harm.

quote:

The other issue was blasphemy, particularly taking the Lord's Name in vain.

I've always though that the idea of blasphemy is diametrically opposed the the god Christians say they worship.

quote:
Originally posted by MaryLouise:

I don't think I've ever seen two non-bourgeois grandparents look so shocked. Children learn by imitation.

Surely it is a rite of passage for parents to have their offspring do such in front of the grandparents.

[ 16. September 2017, 15:48: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
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Snags
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:

I don't swear in my speech. It is something that reflects my conversion change - I used to be a standard foul-mouthed teenager.

But the way life has been, I find it is the only way I can express the pain and anguish inside. And, for me, it is cathartic to swear sometimes. It is mainly on these boards and Twitter, as well as, sometimes in my writing.

I'm almost entirely the opposite. In RealLife I am a dreadful potty mouth, despite periodically trying not to be. As I get older, and tireder, the filters that kept the language in check at work and church have weakened to almost nothing - only church survives, and then only when "on parade" or with people who don't know me well.

In writing, however, I rarely use bad language. It seems so much more deliberate when written. Spoken, the £#&* is usually out of the gob before the brain has clocked it. Written, it's a deliberate act to let it remain, or indeed to write in the first place. Also, a written record can come back to haunt you in more ways!

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:

I was arguing that swearing is not necessarily malevolent speech, that malevolent speech does not require swearing.

What do you mean by malevolent?
Ill will expressed verbally = malevolent speech. Literally, wishing ill would happen to someone else. Cursing (as opposed to cussing).

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
The other issue was blasphemy, particularly taking the Lord's Name in vain.

I've always though that the idea of blasphemy is diametrically opposed the the god Christians say they worship.
A bit of background. Not sure I understand you.

The point I was attempting to make is that people outside of faith communities may often blaspheme by the standards within those communities, but often quite unknowingly. Accusing them of blasphemy doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Here's an example of what I would call malevolent speech.

"I hope someone blows your brains out and rids the world of your poisonous presence".

Or the threatening "I know where you live".

They are very likely to get you suspended or banned immediately, even if thought to be hyperbole.

No, they aren't. At least, the first isn't. We had a thread about this in Styx just recently.

quote:
Originally posted by Eirenist:
My main objection to most 'bad language' is that it is so unimaginative.

So is "pass the salt." But sometimes it is just what is required to achieve the ends you wish to achieve. Sometimes whether something is or isn't imaginative just isn't the point.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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HCH
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One useful distinction here might be between profanity and obscenity. Profanity involves inappropriate references to what is sacred. The British objection to the adjective "bloody" is that it refers back to a profane oath "by God's blood." Obscenity, on the other hand, refers to matters not usually seen or mentioned explicitly in public (such as urine or feces).
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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:

The point I was attempting to make is that people outside of faith communities may often blaspheme by the standards within those communities, but often quite unknowingly. Accusing them of blasphemy doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Of course it does not. One cannot disrespect something one doesn't believe in.

quote:

Not sure I understand you.

quote:

Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, to religious or holy persons or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable

God, as described by Christians, especially the perfect love bit, should not be susceptible to his feeling being hurt by contempt or insult. Needing to have deference, respect, reverence, etc. are Greek god types of behaviour, not all loving and perfect deity behaviours.
Blasphemy is because a god's followers cannot handle the disrespect they feel. And that is an area for self-improvement, not the punishing of others.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Barnabas62
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My apologies, mousethief. Wishful thinking and a blind spot on my part. I really don't like FOAD anywhere.

[ 16. September 2017, 20:03: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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SvitlanaV2
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Social status helps. I don't have enough of it to go around swearing in front of middle class people. I'm not a representative of working class cultural 'authenticity' either.

[ 16. September 2017, 20:42: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Barnabas62
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lilBuddha, re blasphemy

Intriguing! What you're arguing is I think different to traditional understandings about the impassibility of God, but actually makes a lot of sense to me. Some of the roots of this do go back to the Ten Commandments, including this one.

quote:
(Exodus 20 v 7)
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Which does suggest that God is offended by such misuse.

I'm going to give it more thought and post further.

[ 16. September 2017, 21:00: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
lilBuddha, re blasphemy

Intriguing! What you're arguing is I think different to traditional understandings about the impassibility of God, but actually makes a lot of sense to me. Some of the roots of this do go back to the Ten Commandments, including this one.

quote:
(Exodus 20 v 7)
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Which does suggest that God is offended by such misuse.

I'm going to give it more thought and post further.

What does it mean to take the Lord's name in vain? If you look at how the word shav (here translated vain) is used in the OT, it is primarily, it seems, used to mean "falsehood" or "false." It shows up in the command, "you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."

It seems to me that to take the Lord's name in vain might mean to swear an oath on the divine name that you know is false, or to do something you don't intend to do. Given what I see of how the word is used in the Torah, I can't make it mean "don't say naughty words."

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Some of the roots of this do go back to the Ten Commandments, including this one.

quote:
(Exodus 20 v 7)
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Which does suggest that God is offended by such misuse.
I was taught that this commandment means you should not swear in God's name that something is true when you know it isn't. One example I have heard was someone swearing that the camel he was selling was a young, healthy animal, while he knew that it had serious physical problems. If someone buys the camel and it collapses and dies in the middle of the desert, the buyer may die also.

Moo

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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by Snags:
In writing, however, I rarely use bad language. It seems so much more deliberate when written. Spoken, the £#&* is usually out of the gob before the brain has clocked it. Written, it's a deliberate act to let it remain, or indeed to write in the first place. Also, a written record can come back to haunt you in more ways!

In my book, One of mu characters uses fuck a lot, to express her frustration with life, with the hand she has been dealt. As the book goes on, her language moderates, as she understands more, as her anger is mitigated.

Towards the end, another character starts part 3 using the f-word. Which is an indication that things have gone very badly again.

I don't use language to offend people. I won't say "fuck" just because someone else finds it offensive. But I also won't resist from saying it just because someone finds it offensive. I once retweeted someone with a comment including a swear word. He messaged me asking if I could refrain from retweeting his words with profanity.

I didn't actually respond, but the answer is no. I will express myself as I wish. And the context showed who had said shit - me not him.

I will refrain from using the c-word, becasue I know that many find it objectionable. But it is because it would be received as offensive, rather than because it is too harsh a word.

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Barnabas62
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Moo, mousethief

These are the sorts of views about the third commandment which I grew up with. As the article states specifically

quote:
It is a prohibition of blasphemy, specifically, the misuse or "taking in vain" of the name of the God of Israel.
But I find your argument about deliberate bearing of false witness, presumably invoking God's Name in an oath, to be powerful. And lilBuddha's argument seems powerful as well.

Still not quite sure what to make of this, will think some more overnight.

[ 16. September 2017, 22:23: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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My sufferinv isn't comparable to others. But when think of how upset I have been about things which have happened to me and mine, the lack of divine support in the midst of, and my lamentations and abusive comments both to God and others, I wonder if taking God's name in vain might be near to universal.

I realize we're supposed to accept higher purpose, but wonder how it is possible to ignore anguish and desolation and not think that a closer walk with thee might include a "fuck Gott and alle His hande work" (Sophie's Choice, by William Styron). Who tried to find salvation after the war, but couldn't, after being given the choice on the train platform at Auschwitz to send either son or daughter to the gas and save the other "you may keep one of your children".

Which leads me to suggest that it must be that at certain times taking the Lord's name in vain is not just permissible, but allowed, essential, inevitable. Only an unfeeling wretch wouldn't.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
Moo, mousethief

These are the sorts of views about the third commandment which I grew up with.

Thanks for this.

Interesting that it says "some scholars" equate it with blasphemy, but THAT claim has no citation.

I see that once again the Orthodox are left out. Catholics, Mormons (for Kolob's sake), Catholics, and Protestants all get a look-in. Not us. Sigh.

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I see that once again the Orthodox are left out. Catholics, Mormons (for Kolob's sake), Catholics, and Protestants all get a look-in. Not us. Sigh.

Well, it is Wikipedia, which anyone can edit. Maybe you could fix that.

(And I did laugh at "for Kolob's sake.")

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
lilBuddha, re blasphemy

Intriguing! What you're arguing is I think different to traditional understandings about the impassibility of God, but actually makes a lot of sense to me. Some of the roots of this do go back to the Ten Commandments, including this one.

quote:
(Exodus 20 v 7)
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Which does suggest that God is offended by such misuse.

I'm going to give it more thought and post further.

The bible is already pick and choose, so why not choose the bits that make sense?

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Arabella Purity Winterbottom

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Rather in Mousethief's vein, this is bad language. It sets out to hurt, through lies and unsubstantiated claims. When one group of people decide that another group are worth less than themselves, then you get bad language (and physical and emotional violence). Given that many of the people offering this crap call themselves Christians, ordinary blasphemy seems almost a trifle.

Ordinary swear words don't even come close.

[ 17. September 2017, 04:37: Message edited by: Arabella Purity Winterbottom ]

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rolyn
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There's no doubt God, or some unseen force somewhere, is offended by so-called foul language. Why else is it that the majority of us automatically refrain from using it in polite company. That doesn't mean this self same entity isn't devoid of a sense of humour, or doesn't wish for us to have an anger release mechanism.
Language which involves our body parts or functions does have something universally binding about it after-all.

We all have our own personal opinions on swearing, and on how much or how little we wish to hear it. Furthermore I guess most would agree that they do not enjoy aggressive behaviour being pointed directly at them, regardless of whether it is backed up with swearing or not. That isn't to say it's not going to happen now and again, what goes around comes around.

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Barnabas62
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mousethief

I think your critical observation about the absence of reference to Orthodox understandings re the third commandment in particular and by implication blasphemy in general is worth following up. The article I linked does point out that some have linked the third commandment to perjury and I have accepted the power of your argument and Moo's.

However it does seem to me that blasphemy has been regarded as very serious in the Judeo-Christian Traditions and I'm trying to figure out why, also whether it has continuing relevance. (lilBuddha, bear with me, that's my normal approach. I don't quickly dismiss thoughts from the past just because they don't fit my preferences.)

Here is a long comment attributed in this link to St John Chrysostom. He is a well respected, much revered Patristic voice within Orthodoxy. He sees blasphemy as very dangerous to the blasphemer and potentially poisonous to those who hear it. He also observes, very clearly, that it cannot possibly detract from the Glory of God, so its most profound danger is to those who speak and hear it.

We use the phrase 'bite your tongue' as a kind of antidote to hasty and unwise speech. Think before you speak. Chrysostom expands pretty vividly on that idea.

Blasphemy is not a topic I've actually given much thought to before, but I'm pretty well aware of the value of being restrained in speech. Careless talk costs lives. Words once uttered cannot be recalled. And I certainly see charitable value in not applying the label to folks outside of faith communities. Inside faith communities, well that's another matter.

Still processing. Now I look at it, it is a pretty weighty topic. On a point of provenance, mousethief, I'm not clear from the link what the original source was for St John Chrysostom's words. It wasn't a reference I'd come across before. You might well know better.

[ 17. September 2017, 11:32: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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mousethief

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Barnabus62:

1. Quotes without attribution are always dangerous. People love putting their prejudices into the mouths of great people of the past, and in Orthodoxy, Chrysostom is one of the greatest.

2. Assuming it is authentic, it may be one of Chrysostom's foibles, rather than a place where he nails it. He is a known rabid antisemite, so not all of his pronouncements are worthy of equal esteem.

3. Assuming he's right, it would be an interesting conversation to have. What is it about blasphemy that's so dangerous?

It makes all the sense in the world to me to say that someone who isn't a Christian using Christ's name as a cuss word isn't really blaspheming. They're riding on the coattails of a tradition they have fallen out of (assuming they are a product of a Christian or once-Christian nation/ethnic group/etc.). The whole idea of using "Christ" as a cuss word implies the idea of using "Christ" to swear by -- i.e. to witness one's oath or promise.

(This whole subject is wonderfully examined in Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr. Great read. Informative and fun. Has a photo of a medieval cast trinket consisting of of four penises carrying a vulva on a litter (worth the price alone) that was a souvenir for pilgrims going to some holy shrine in England. Highly recommended.)

I wonder if ol' Goldenmouth would say that cussing using a saint's name is just as dangerous?

quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
There's no doubt God, or some unseen force somewhere, is offended by so-called foul language. Why else is it that the majority of us automatically refrain from using it in polite company.

Yes. That force is societal norms. Look, we don't (in the United States, anyway) run naked through the village square, but that doesn't prove God is mad about it. Societal mores is a much more defensible source.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
There's no doubt God, or some unseen force somewhere, is offended by so-called foul language. Why else is it that the majority of us automatically refrain from using it in polite company.

This is flawed logic. If this were the case, the commandment would be Though shalt definitely kill There would be a commandment, or at least a verse, about queuing... O. M. G. [Eek!] That's it! The Unforgivable Sin... is jumping a queue!
What you do demonstrate, though, is exactly the problem. Projection.

ETA: Stupid coding, following my command instead of intension

[ 17. September 2017, 14:45: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Barnabus62:

1. Quotes without attribution are always dangerous. People love putting their prejudices into the mouths of great people of the past, and in Orthodoxy, Chrysostom is one of the greatest.

Part of the problem is that St J C was so prolific. I've been wandering through this voluminous source, so far without finding the exact reference (homily, letter etc) but I've read enough to know that the link I found is pretty consistent with other stuff he wrote/said.
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:

2. Assuming it is authentic, it may be one of Chrysostom's foibles, rather than a place where he nails it. He is a known rabid antisemite, so not all of his pronouncements are worthy of equal esteem.

3. Assuming he's right, it would be an interesting conversation to have. What is it about blasphemy that's so dangerous?

You put your finger on what is puzzling me. As best I can work out St J C is arguing that intentional blaspheming (you know I agree with you about inadvertent blaspheming by folks outside faith communities) is a bit like hardening the heart. Poisons the mind, sets you up for Hell. God's anger seems to be directed primarily against the devil who uses the human weakness of unbridled tongues to tempt people away from relationship with Him.

And I guess some of this also ties up with the Orthodox Tradition about Hell and judgement, which is rather different to Catholic and Protestant understanding. People casting themselves into the flames etc, Hell being a place of purgation, etc.

Not an easy unpick, this. A lot of it feels arcane to me.

Thanks for the book link btw. From the reviews, it looks like the author and I have similar ideas about swearing.

[ 17. September 2017, 15:15: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Moo

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It would be very interesting to know the traditional Jewish interpretation of this.

Joy Davidman, who was raised Jewish, is my source for the example about the camel. I wonder if this is the standard Jewish view.

Moo

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Huia
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quote:
Originally posted by Arabella Purity Winterbottom:
When one group of people decide that another group are worth less than themselves, then you get bad language (and physical and emotional violence). Given that many of the people offering this crap call themselves Christians, ordinary blasphemy seems almost a trifle.

Ordinary swear words don't even come close.

I was reading both the Guardian and an Australian paper (I can't remember which) this morning and I totally agree Arabella. The kind of hate speech being aimed at people supporting Single Sex Marriage left me feeling sick, that anyonewould address another human being with such
venom and lies was far worse that any swearing could ever be.

Huia

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simontoad
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My favorite insult in literature at the moment is Moliere's "May your ears turn into arseholes and shit on your shoulders." I said it to someone once. It was ill-judged.

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The opinions expressed above are transitory emotional responses and do not necessarily reflect the considered views of the author.

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Ian Climacus

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I echo mousethief's book recommendation above; that is a great book. And that mediaeval trinket has remained in my mind to this day. Certainly taught me we can be a lot more cautious swearing-wise and image-wise these days.

Like SC's book characters, friends know how I am faring based on my naughty word usage. I grew up being told naughty words were on par with blasphemy and rarely come natural to me even now, but I will use them in moments of anguish.

I fear losing sense of the dignity of someone, as per Arabella and Huia above, in the language used or actions taken, is worse to me than a bad word.

[ 18. September 2017, 07:50: Message edited by: Ian Climacus ]

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mr cheesy
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This is a bit of a tangent, but I think is relevant.

We've long taught our children that there are different forms of speaking that are appropriate in different circumstances - and that one needs to think about the person one is talking to and whether the words one is choosing to use are appropriate in that context.

Of course adults have to be careful around small children as they copy what adults say - however as the child grows up, by-and-large they learn to understand (hopefully without too many cringeworthy mistakes) that they need to talk differently to different types of people.

And that being conversant in these different dialects is a skill and an asset, and more than this that being mindful of what other people expect from language is more than just polite, it is essential if one is going to be able to live alongside them.

The fact is that some forms of the English language sound aggressive to people who don't use it. I'm not sure that morally that's of any more importance than that some people find the sound of German harsh on the ears.

As we've seen above, there are ways to use all kinds of different vocabularies in ways that are (or aren't) violent.

Of course, it isn't an easy thing to get right, but only the person who never steps out of their own social sphere speaks in the same way to everyone they meet, IMO.

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mousethief

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I don't think that's a tangent at all, mr cheesy. I don't know if you're aware but the phenomenon you're referring to is called "code switching."

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Boogie

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I agree Mr Cheesy, it's an essential life skill.

I swear, but rarely. If you keep your swearing for extreme circumstances it's an excellent safety valve. Also people really KNOW you mean it! I never swear in print or online - what's the point? When typing it's simple to moderate your language.

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mr cheesy
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Another little thing I was thinking: on some level exposure to non-aggressive "bad language" insulates the individual to it.

Or to put it the other way around: someone who flinches every time they hear someone say "fuck" or who refuses to talk to someone who blasphemes etc and so on is going to find it quite hard to navigate through life in various communities around here.

Even if one isn't using the patterns of language that others are using, simply being around it is a good thing.

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Barnabas62
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Another little thing I was thinking: on some level exposure to non-aggressive "bad language" insulates the individual to it.

Excellent point. A good friend of ours, who worked for several years as a night club pastor (and that's another story) said that was exactly what happened to her. What might have bothered her, or jarred a bit, no longer did. She ceased being put off by the "decoration", heard what was really being said.

In fact, the whole code-switching notion is profoundly helpful in this discussion. I'm sure the real issue is malevolent speech, not the code used to express it. I'm with Arabella Purity Winterbottom.

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Martin60
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If we say anything that corrodes, intimidates, oppresses, it's wrong. Without obscenity. And obscenity easily amounts to verbal sexual assault in mixed company. If done by theists, it's all blasphemy: misrepresenting God. The trouble is that the Bible does it unintentionally from beginning to end and the doctors of the church continue in that even worse. The current teachings to the vast majority of the peoples of the book are very bad, most bad bad language indeed.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
I don't think that's a tangent at all, mr cheesy. I don't know if you're aware but the phenomenon you're referring to is called "code switching."

Code switching, as I understand it, is done within a conversation or situation, not across different ones.

This link explains and contains the brilliant Key and Peale demonstrating and a more real example from Queen Bey.

[ 18. September 2017, 15:35: Message edited by: lilBuddha ]

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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rolyn
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by rolyn:
There's no doubt God, or some unseen force somewhere, is offended by so-called foul language. Why else is it that the majority of us automatically refrain from using it in polite company.

This is flawed logic. If this were the case, the commandment would be Though shalt definitely kill There would be a commandment, or at least a verse, about queuing... O. M. G. [Eek!] That's it! The Unforgivable Sin... is jumping a queue!
What you do demonstrate, though, is exactly the problem. Projection.

There might as well have been a commandment 'thou shalt definitely kill' . Proved by simply taking a glance at Christianity down the ages. Many well mannered people have done ghastly things,( or been required to), while foul mouthers don't necessarily bite like they bark.

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