A Few Thoughts on Profanity

I’m a writer; the thought of excluding even a part of the rich vocabulary that makes up the tools of my trade tends to make me pause. But most people don’t find profanity particularly appealing, especially in professional communications. I tend to avoid certain words as a result, only occasionally dusting them off to really drive a point home.

But that doesn’t mean that I personally think writers should dump those words out of our dictionaries universally. Hillary Crosley offered an impassioned defense of the use of profanity, particularly in situations when journalists are directly quoting a source. (Warning: This link contains oodles of profanity.) I agree wholeheartedly; dancing around the subject makes it less clear. Furthermore, doing so lets publications judge the value of other people’s choice of words. I’m just not comfortable with that.

Dancing around the meaning of a dirty word shouldn’t be necessary, provided that word is the right word to use in the moment. There are times and places when expletives are the only way to drive home the true meaning of what you’re trying to say.