I like profanity. I like how it adapts to whichever situation the speaker wants to thrust it in. I like how it effortlessly fluctuates from endearment to abuse. And I love how, once spoken, the reaction reveals more about the listener than the speaker.
Like any mode of expression, profanity is codependent on the speaker and the listener to add context to its message. If worn-out ad nauseum, the profanity becomes stale, bland, and too normalized for heterodox consumption. However, if used with tact, distributed with a precise attention to detail, it can have the impact of elevating even the dullest of conversation to a respectable level of fringe rebelliousness. But here too, one must proceed cautiously.
The most beautiful part of profanity is its apparent authenticity. If it comes across too calculated, too forced, the effect is ruined, and worse still, the disgust will come to be associated with profanity itself rather than the failure of the speaker to profane properly. Essentially, profanity must be mindful, but not overly so. It must resonate with the audience–good or bad–without drowning them in a sea of senseless rabble.
When it comes to the listeners (or maybe I should say responders) to the profanity being spoken, often the reaction is one of self-righteous disgust at the words. In this circumstance, no effort is given to understand the context in which the words are spoken, let alone to appreciate the emotive experience it produces.
Are you offended by profanity? That’s good. Now, aim to dig deeper and understand the power the words have over you. If you are offended or made uncomfortable by a profane word (or profanity in general), resist the urge to either apologize for your initial feelings (they are involuntary after all) or to demand an apology from the speaker to sooth your offense. Instead, try to appreciate the great depth of emotions these so-called vulgarities have forced you to confront. That power alone is why profanity deserves better than to be dismissed as too lowbrow for intellectual discourse. Why it deserves an honored place in literary/cultural discussion. If anything, to ignore that which challenges our most base values and senses, evokes so much heated passion from us, would be all that much worse for intellectual discourse.