It’s an Either/Or Proposition

By Daryl A. Neipp

Never once have I heard my father use a swear word, which I think is significant. In fact, I’d say I grew up in a pretty sheltered environment. This included being part of a conservative Christian family who attended church whenever the doors were open, living at a Christian camp, and attending Christian schools from kindergarten until 12th grade. We were not allowed to go to the movies or listen to secular music. I even remember having to turn off the television any time a colorful or suggestive word was broadcast into our home. Still, somehow, I found myself exposed to swear words.

Probably like many other junior high boys, I found something compelling about using language that was supposedly reserved for adults. Of course, initially I didn’t actually say them out loud, but I did find myself thinking them quite regularly. Then it was only a matter of time before one slipped out, then another.

We humans have an innate ability to rationalize ourselves in and out of anything, so I constructed what seemed like logical arguments. For example, who decided that certain four-letter words should be labeled off-limits? Why should a simple arrangement of letters take on any meaning of significance? And anyway, they’re just words—what or whom do they really hurt?