Argument Clinic: F— This B———, C———–s!


“Cursing” is a left-over of the jewish restrictions on saying “Yahweh”

Is this the right room for an argument

(AKA: “the unpronouncable god”) – saying the name of god was punishable by death, so, uh, let’s call it (mumble) because a supreme being won’t be able to tell we’re talking about it if we refer to it as “Monique.”

 

Oh, shit.

So, what’s the residual fuss about? Omnipotent and omnipresent gods already know what you think, so you may as well let rip with a great big blue streak. Besides, “shit” cannot bother god; he invented the fucking stuff and it gets all over the place.[stderr]

The problem is not the delicate ears – or whatever sensory apparatus – of god, clearly, because there are other words that are “swear words” which have nothing to do with dieties: fuck, shit, asshole, etc. As we have discussed elsewhere in Argument Clinic, these words only have power because they attempt to make an invidious comparison. [stderr] The word “shit” is insignificant; the actual usage is a short-form of “you are shit.” Once we understand how those words deal their damage, they can be deflected or ignored, as they are either true or untrue but, in either case, they add nothing to the argument.

One of the more famous not-swears

Things get interesting when we elide or mix words, in order to achieve the effect of a swear-word without doing so. French Connection UK’s brilliant mindfuck logotage takes advantage of our brain’s tendency to attempt to make sense out of misspelled words, automatically. It’s the same mechanism as I used in the title:
F— You!

Our brains fix things up amazingly well! You can probably tell an American to “Fut the Shuck Up” and their brain will magically rearrange it until it makes sense.

As verbal combatants we can take advantage of this in two ways. If someone starts using elided words, we can red-herring them into a discussion about intellectual honesty:

Move: “F*ck you.”
Counter-move: “Oh come on. You mean to say ‘Fuck you’ – if you’re going to go throwing around empty words don’t try to empty them out even more. Have the courage of your convictions. It’s OK, I don’t get upset over people’s vocabulary.”

Move: “Fuck you.”
Counter-move: “Language!”
Counter-counter-move: “I’m not going to let you control my vocabulary. Words are just abstracts attached to sounds. If you didn’t understand what I said, I’ll explain it to you.”

Religionists’ attempt(s) to control language are merely part of an overall program of enforcing conformity, which is religion’s purpose and method. If you want to get meta-, and we here at Argument Clinic are huge fans of getting meta-, you can enter that into the discussion as in the example above: when your opponent is saying you are using naughty words, they are attempting to control your vocabulary; they are attempting to at least partially direct the conversation onto their preferred ground, where they can win. The obvious response to any attempt to control the conversation is to call it out, and reject it.

Move: “Please moderate your language, there are children here!”
Counter-move: “Everyone hears those words and survives the experience; I’m not going to let you try to control or dismiss what I say based on your desire to choose my vocabulary. Nice try, though.” (muttering “shithead” under your breath is optional)

What’s odd about the “your language sears my ears!” move is that it’s obviously not true. For someone to understand a word, they have to have it in their vocabulary, which means they’ve encountered it before. Since they clearly survived the encounter with their ears un-seared, they will survive it again. In fact, you’re helping desensitize the poor motherfucker to the naughty words. There’s a story that Samuel Johnson, when he published the first English Dictionary in 1755, was greeted by a deputation who congratulated him for leaving out the ‘naughty’ words. He, in return, congratulated them for knowing what words to look for.

Religious blasphemy laws are serious business; it’s the 21st century and you can still be tortured for blasphemy, so calling god a “great pantsload of shit” is not always a good idea. That’s why they want it that way, in fact. The last person in England who was executed for blasphemy was in 1697. [wikipedia] That’s what happens when people control your vocabulary: you get a warning sticker on a rock ‘n roll album, while your government casually talks about bombing civilians on television. That sort of thing ushered in a whole era of pseudo-cusswords, “geeze” instead of “jesus!” and “sheesh!” instead of “shit”, etc. Saying “sheesh!” is just as ‘bad’ as writing “sh*t!” which, to our brains, is just like saying “shit!” – i.e.: none of them are bad. But if you mean to say “shit” just say “shit” and be done with it.

I wish kids came with a noise warning.

A child who hears the word “motherfucker” will either know what it means, or won’t. If they don’t, they will ask or figure it out from the tone of voice in which it is delivered, and they will know the word from then on. How does this damage the fucking child’s goddamn mind?

There are words that hurt, because of their history as terms of abuse. At Argument Clinic we recommend avoiding them in discussion simply because unpacking their history (if you want to use them fairly and properly) is going to significantly derail any discussion. This raises the question of using elided versions of historical terms of abuse. Here’s a challenge: see if you can get by without using either the elided version or the actual term. It’s generally a pretty straightforward exercise in creative use of language: demonstrate your badass languaging skills, motherfucker!

------ divider ------

Terms of historical abuse: I have seen their use defended, occasionally, on the grounds of “free speech.” My opinion on that matter is this: I try to avoid certain words, anyhow, out of respect for the victims of historical abuse who are no longer around to object to having a bit more invective heaped on them. I don’t mind if their descendants want to “reclaim” the words and use them; they can have them. They can keep them. Keeping and owning those words is probably the only reparations they will ever get.

I used to have a guy on my World of Warcraft raid team who used “fuck” instead of “um” – I didn’t care except that one day I realized he was using up twice as much bandwidth in team chat. (Yes, Zil, if you’re reading this, I’m talking about you)

Let me troll cartomancer a bit: the Romans had pretty impressive swear-words, mostly to do with body-shaming and embarrassing acts. When I was in 8th grade we got our Latin teacher to teach us a few. But they were the minor ones. I’ve often wondered if the root of “irritate” is irrumatio – which I would translate as “frottage” but it was generally used the way we might say “skull fuck.”

A friend is on NPR intermittently and tries to use the word “fuck” at least once in every interview. Yay!

Putin signed legislation banning the use of swear words in the Russian media. In this case it’s social control, not religious control (they’re kind of the same thing) [guardian] My understanding is that Russians are veritable artists of invective; it seems like Putin is not #MRGA by steering away from their strength. Oh: the fact that some protesters had signs that read “Fuck Putin” has nothing to do with it.

Comments

  1. chigau (違う) says

    Marcus
    I have Proof™ that Yahweh is bothered by shit.
    Deuteronomy
    23:12 Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:
    23:13 And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
    23:14 For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

  2. says

    chigau@#1:
    If I am reading that correctly, god went camping and stepped in someone’s scatpile? That’s why you should always designate an area!

    I am pretty sure god probably used the word “shit” in the original Ahramaic.

  3. says

    Diogenes of ancient Greece once insulted someone by saying, “Don’t throw rocks at the crowd. You might hit your father.” He was inferring that the target of the jibe was the product of a sex worker and client, not a marriage, and doesn’t know who his father is. Who needs profanity?

    I made the conscious choice years ago to drop all profanity not because I’m “offended” or worried if others are. I do it for two reasons:

    1) Preventing dishonest argument. “You used swear words! I don’t have to talk to you!” is a cowardly tactic. Skulkers might use others, but not that one.

    2) Reducing emotion in arguments. Profanity can make words appear angrier than intended, or the reader react more angrily than warranted. (It also makes apologizing easier or even unnecessary.)

    I haven’t and don’t say one word about others’ use of the words. It’s like being a “grammar nazi”, it’s an argument you can never win. As Diogenes shows above, sharp wit does more to an inflated ego than GC7W’s will ever do.

  4. komarov says

    Evidently my biblical English is even worse than my regular English. After reading chigau’s excerpt it three times I conclude you’re supposed to shit outside your camp and bury the result, yes? Also, god is watching you and will do things to your enemies* provided he doesn’t ever have to see you taking a dump – understandable yet tricky if you’re omni-present. I would not have gotten that without the context of chigau’s intro!

    My first thought was, paddle + digging could be some vague Odysseus reference about him heading inlands with an oar until someone mistook it for a spade so he’d know he’d finally gotten away from the sea. That would be a strange reference even by biblical standards.

    *Heathen-crushing, biblical boilerplate…

  5. Owlmirror says

    Gripes:

    Taboo deformation did not originate with biblical taboos regarding the name of God, despite that being one of the more famous examples. I thought of the bear taboo (although I also found criticism of the concept)

    The comments to that last also mention the Chinese name taboo, as a very different example:

    In China thee is a very well-attested taboo on saying the personal name of anyone you defer to. When Liu Bang established the Han dynasty, the word 邦 bang1 – ‘country/state’ became taboo for the entire empire, and by the time the Han finally fell, the word had passed out of common use and survived only in texts.
     
    The taboo is very much alive. Lu Xun made fun of it in his story “The True Story of Ah Q” in the 30’s. That story brings out another aspect of the taboo – it’s the sound of the word that is taboo, whatever that happens to be at the time. And you see that with all words pronounced ‘bang’, so maybe this taboo had the same form even then. In all four tones there are fewer that 20, nothing like what you find for similar syllables. Perhaps those 20 were different enough in Han times to escape the ban.

    See also WikiP on Naming Taboos.

  6. cartomancer says

    Short answer, no, irritate and irrumate do not share a derivation.

    Irrumate comes from the positional in- prefix and ruma, which can mean an udder or belly. The original meaning of the term was to feed with a breast or udder, but Romans being Romans it quickly developed into a sex thing.

    Irritate (Latin irritare) comes from irratus, meaning void or useless (the negational in- prefix + ratus, meaning considered or thought about, so originally “not even worth thinking about”).

    The interesting thing about irrumatio as a term of abuse, though, is that the shock value comes from the implication rather than the word itself. The Romans didn’t really go in for stigmatising the simple use of words, but their very macho ideas of appropriate sexual relations made it scandalous for an adult citizen male to be thought of as the passive partner in any kind of sex act. The most famous use of the term (Catullus 16 “Pedicabo vos ego et irrumabo” – I’m going to fuck you lot in the arse and mouth) is insulting because it posits the audience will be on the receiving end. It’s rather like calling someone a cocksucker today, although the Latin version is slightly different as the implication is that the recipients are unwilling and have been dominated into doing it.

  7. polishsalami says

    I can see the logic in oppressed groups “reclaiming” certain words, but only making “nigger” a taboo for non-African-Americans, but allowing it for African-Americans is an error in my opinion.The reason is this: it perpetuates its usage. If the taboo was universal, then the word would probably die out.

    For example: The only time I’ve ever heard “mulatto” in mainstream media is in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm; yet I’ve heard “nigger” numerous times on TV and in movies.

  8. cartomancer says

    In fact, it says something quite profound about Roman attitudes to activity and passivity that the same act – oral sex – is described using two different words depending on which participant’s perspective you’re taking. Both are active words – fellate and irrumate – but they mean the exact opposite of one another.

    Marriage is also described in a similar way. Women use the verb “nubere” (from which we get our “nuptial”) while men use “maritare” (from which “marriage”, though it’s just as common to use “uxorem ducere” – lit. “lead a wife”).

  9. Owlmirror says

    Gripe:

    The last person in England who was executed for blasphemy was in 1697. [wikipedia]

    Edinburgh, Scotland is not, in point of fact, in England.

    I am pretty sure god probably used the word “shit” in the original Ahramaic.

    Deuteronomy was written in Hebrew, not Aramaic.

    The Hebrew term used, “צֵאָה”/tsea is related to the word “יָצָא”/yatsa, meaning “to go out, to leave”; other translations use “excrement”, which is a better translation since that term derives from “excrete”; i.e., that which goes out [from the body].

  10. Andrew Dalke says

    polishsalami @#7. “Yo, Is This Racist” recently answered the question “Is it racist to bleep the n word on tv or radio when a black person says it, like in a song?” with “I mean, I think the origin media companies pandering to fucking “why can’t I say it if they can say it” racist white people, so yeah, I guess it is.”

    You may be interested in Richard Pryor’s take on the topic: https://blackdoctor.org/508158/richard-pryors-stance-to-stop-using-the-n-word-is-still-groundbreaking-today/ .

    Your use of “allowing” made me think, of all things, of a Dawkins interview where the interviewee asked him something like “why do you allow your woman to wear those clothes?”, and he responded “I don’t control what women wear.” What do you mean by “allowing”? Who does the allowing, and who is being stopped?

    Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” uses ‘mulatto’. In general, it is a historic term, rather like using ‘Nubian’ (used in Star Trek “The Squire of Gothos” to refer to Lt. Uhura as “a Nubian prize, taken on one of your raids of conquest…?”).

  11. says

    Personally I rarely use insults. For exactly the same reasons Intransitive mentioned in #3. I prefer to keep my arguments logical. And ad hominem is a logical fallacy.

    When I choose to use insults, I try to pick something like “damn”, “shit”, “asshole” etc.

    I try not to use all those insults derived from sex related concepts, for example, “whore”, “fuck”, “motherfucker”, “pussy”, “cocksucker”, “dickhead” etc. Now, what’s exactly wrong with being a sex worker? And why being compared to a sex worker should be an insult? People who came up with these insults were misogynists and they clearly lacked any understanding about what healthy sexual relationships look like. When you actually think about the literal meaning of these insults, they don’t exactly make sense (having sex is pleasant, so why should insults be sex related?). I also avoid insults like “bastard”, “son of a bitch” etc. What’s exactly wrong with having parents who were never married? Moreover, a child can never be blamed for her parents’ actions anyway, so such insults are silly.

    In general I don’t like most of the insults and rude words English language has to offer. Mostly because they are so boring and unimaginative. Speakers of other languages have been able to come up with something more interesting than “shit” or “asshole”. And I absolutely love it when people who come up with new words (or new uses for existing words) are creative.

    One Latvian example would be “pienapuika” (meaning literally “milk boy”). It’s used to refer to somebody who is cowardly, pampered, effeminate, unable to independently take care of himself. The idea is that an adult person is compared with a baby still drinking his mother milk. Or “plānā galdiņa urbējs” (meaning literally: “somebody who drills holes in a thin table”). It really sounds less weird in Latvian. It’s used to refer to somebody unwilling/unable to tackle hard or challenging jobs, somebody who does only what is simple (that’s a comparison with a carpenter unwilling to work with thick pieces of wood). And Latvian equivalent for “oh fuck” would be “velns parāvis” (meaning literally: “I just got dragged away by the devil”).

    I think that banning the use of rude words is silly, but occasionally I do like the results. No longer able to just say “fuck” people actually start thinking and come up with something interesting. For example, once I published an article in a web site where certain “rude” words were automatically filtered in the comment section. One commentator then wrote that “my mouth should be tied shut with a manure drenched rag”. I really loved that one. The person trying to insult me didn’t just say “shut the fuck up”, but actually bothered to put some thought into it. And I appreciate it.

    Of course I do this as well. Once I was in a TV show debating against Christians who wanted to ban abortions. They kept insisting that they have a right to tell me what I can or cannot do with my body. After a while it got annoying and I replied with, “You have been telling me what I should do with my body. It would be only fair if I now told you where to stick your Bible.” I used a Latvian verb, which translates as „stick”, but has some connotations, which made it clear that I implied „stick your Bible into your own asshole”. And I actually got away with this one. Partially. A few people complained, that it is not OK to imply something rude.

  12. says

    Intransitive@#3:
    Diogenes of ancient Greece once insulted someone by saying, “Don’t throw rocks at the crowd. You might hit your father.”

    That’s a great one; I have to remember it. Maybe update it for modern times: “don’t bomb that town…”

    1) Preventing dishonest argument. “You used swear words! I don’t have to talk to you!” is a cowardly tactic.

    Well, yeah, but you’re sheltering from it by not doing it. One can also use whatever language one sees fit, and if someone starts tone-trolling you about it, you can call them out. Admittedly, that takes words. It’s why I generally avoid “naughty” language.

    2) Reducing emotion in arguments. Profanity can make words appear angrier than intended, or the reader react more angrily than warranted.

    I agree as well. Although, sometimes I am angry and deliberately slip a bit of spice in there. I don’t know if anyone notices it here or not, since nobody has tried to yellow-flag me yet. And, besides, I think I’m not using invective inappropriately. Sometimes you gotta rattle people a bit.

  13. says

    komarov@#4:
    Also, god is watching you and will do things to your enemies* provided he doesn’t ever have to see you taking a dump – understandable yet tricky if you’re omni-present.

    God moves in nonsensical ways!

  14. says

    Owlmirror@#5:
    In China thee is a very well-attested taboo on saying the personal name of anyone you defer to

    That’s really interesting! It sort of makes sense: I’m more powerful than you, so you don’t get to act like an equal. I suppose there’s probably a bit of that in the old “sir/mister/hey you” class consciousness.

    And of course, we all defer to the Appellomancer: http://oglaf.com/branding/

    Owlmirror@#9:
    Edinburgh, Scotland is not, in point of fact, in England.

    Fair enough. I believe the English considered it theirs at that time, but you’re right – I should have indicated my non-support for territorial occupation.

    Deuteronomy was written in Hebrew, not Aramaic.

    Thanks for the correction. I was thinking of various bibles, but not the original source, so I got that wrong.

  15. says

    polishsalami@#7:
    I can see the logic in oppressed groups “reclaiming” certain words, but only making “nigger” a taboo for non-African-Americans, but allowing it for African-Americans is an error in my opinion.The reason is this: it perpetuates its usage. If the taboo was universal, then the word would probably die out.

    It’s not my word, so it’s not for me to say who can or can’t use it or whether it’s appropriate – I avoid it. I agree with you to an extent, though perhaps the word should not die out; it could serve as reminder of a certain period or horribleness, and a long follow-on period in which language was used to wound.

    As Anne-Marie Johnson said when Bill Maher started making an ass out of himself on his show:

    “I love when white people try to define African-Americans,” she responded. “I think I’m only one on this stage who’s qualified to talk about the meaning of the word, how it hurts, how it doesn’t hurt, where it’s used, the history of it. Because I live it everyday.”

    I wish someone had been able to hold Maher down and give him an understanding about privilege – his using that word didn’t show that it “has no meaning” it showed that he was a clueless, privileged asshole. It absolutely had meaning, or he wouldn’t have thrown it for shock value. I think that show would have been better if someone had broken his nose for it.

  16. says

    Andrew Dalke@#10:
    You may be interested in Richard Pryor’s take on the topic: https://blackdoctor.org/508158/richard-pryors-stance-to-stop-using-the-n-word-is-still-groundbreaking-today/ .

    That’s a really good read; thanks for sharing that.

    In my inner language, I would say that Prior had realized that labels are meaningless, and had experienced linguistic nihilism; words for groups crumble, unless they’re just lists. There is nobody in the room except this individual, and that individual, and that other individual.

    That clarified something for me: my anti-racism is based on individualism; I don’t think you can stereotype groups of people if you recognize that we’re all individuals that vary considerably. Flip that on its head and racism and sexism (and other -isms) therefore are a totalitarian impulse to deny the individuality of their targets.

  17. Andrew Dalke says

    I didn’t take it the same way. At the end of the clip he mentioned how it “doesn’t mean nothing to me”, but just before then he mentioned how it doesn’t like people using it, white or black. Which makes me think it does mean something to him.

    In internationalism, racism is a form of propaganda by the dominant economic class. If you can convince poor white farmers to hate, blame, and look down on black farmers as the source of their economic woes, then the rich white agribusiness owners can stay in charge.

    In that interpretation, Pryor’s visit to Kenya showed him that the word had no essential descriptive meaning, though the history of the word still has a real meaning. It doesn’t mean that he concluded that all other “labels are meaningless.”

    While I am far from an expert, I believe that in internationalism some labels, like race, have no meaning while other labels, like “worker”, retain a meaning. This makes it different from the broader linguistic nihilism you are talking about. I also think collectivism and internationalism can be compatible.

    Did Pryor continue to use other group labels or use stereotypes after this point?

  18. Dunc says

    Owlmirror@#9:
    Edinburgh, Scotland is not, in point of fact, in England.

    Fair enough. I believe the English considered it theirs at that time, but you’re right – I should have indicated my non-support for territorial occupation.

    Errr, no. In 1697, absolutely nobody considered Scotland and England as being the same country, or one being a colony of the other. The Act of Union wasn’t signed until 1707, and that was framed as a partnership of more-or-less equals. The last time Edinburgh was actually occupied by the English was in the 14th century (during the Wars of Independence), although it was burned in a sea-borne English attack in 1544 at the start of what is known as “The Rough Wooing”, and was later beseiged with English assistance as part of the intermittet civil war between the factions of Mary Queen of Scots and the Regent Moray, acting in the name of her infant son James VI. The Union of the Crowns occurred in 1603, but that put the now King James VI of Scotland on the English throne as James I.

    On a related note…

    I used to have a guy on my World of Warcraft raid team who used “fuck” instead of “um”

    Was he Scottish, by any chance? That’s pretty fucking common here.

  19. Dunc says

    In fairness though, I should note that Scottish history is really bloody complicated, and most of the details are largely unknown even in Scotland. They don’t teach most of it in school, for some reason…

    Oh, and just on the off-chance anybody thinks Braveheart taught them anything about Scottish history, allow me to quote a professor of Scottish history I met at a party once: “If you really want to understand Wallace’s role in the Wars of Independence, you’d be better off watching Apollo 13.”

  20. says

    Andrew Dalke@#17:
    In internationalism, racism is a form of propaganda by the dominant economic class. If you can convince poor white farmers to hate, blame, and look down on black farmers as the source of their economic woes, then the rich white agribusiness owners can stay in charge.

    I’ve always thought something like that: it’s “divide and conquer” against the working class.

    I believe that in internationalism some labels, like race, have no meaning while other labels, like “worker”, retain a meaning. This makes it different from the broader linguistic nihilism you are talking about.

    I’ll buy that. Although I feel I must point out that if one use the technique of linguistic nihilism to destroy the meaning of a label, then one has set oneself up for having it used on all labels. That’s basic pyrrhonian skepticism, at that point, “I can win any argument by destroying our ability to argue.”

    Did Pryor continue to use other group labels or use stereotypes after this point?

    I don’t know. I am mostly familiar with his Live on Sunset Strip perfomance, which is on my list of great comedy performances.

  21. says

    Dunc@#18:
    Errr, no. In 1697, absolutely nobody considered Scotland and England as being the same country, or one being a colony of the other.

    I hadn’t realized I am woefully ignorant of my Scottish history, but now I know! Thank you for pointing out that gap, which I shall “mind” so I don’t fall into it again. I’m afraid that being ignorant, I appear to have conflated Ireland and Scotland to a certain degree, assuming that the experience of the one was similar to the other. Fucking oops!

    Was he Scottish, by any chance? That’s pretty fucking common here.

    I don’t think he was. But I dunno! That’s part of the beauty of online games – geography (and sometimes politics) get lost. I know he was a beer drinker who switched to Jack Daniels when the beer would run out, so that makes him an American drinker.

    Oh, and just on the off-chance anybody thinks Braveheart taught them anything about Scottish history, allow me to quote a professor of Scottish history I met at a party once: “If you really want to understand Wallace’s role in the Wars of Independence, you’d be better off watching Apollo 13.”

    Oh, that’s a good one! (I haven’t seen Braveheart, but I have seen Culloden and I did look up the battle of Prestonpans after reading Fraser’s story of “Johnny Cope in the Morning” … argh, my knowledge of Scotland is fucking thin: Fraser and one driving trip Glasgow to Islay.(a boat was involved) I stayed in an amazing bed and breakfast in Ronachan, and had the most memorable cream of wild mushroom soup.

  22. Andrew Dalke says

    If IMDB’s quotations page is correct, “Live on Sunset Strip” includes the lines “So Black people – we the first people who had thought, right? We was the first ones to say, “Where the fuck am I, and how do you get to Detroit?””. That sounds like a label.

  23. Dunc says

    I haven’t seen Braveheart

    Then congratulations – just from that alone, you know more about Scottish history than most people who have.

    Imagine if someone made a film about the American War of Independence in which an escaped plantion slave called George Washington single-handedly defeats the English at the Alamo because they killed his best friend Paul Bunyan in an argument over the location of El Dorado… whilst dressed as an 80s Wall Street trader, except for the bone through his nose. It’s not so much ahistorical as anti-historical… OK, I may be exagerating somewhat, but only a tiny little bit. They get most of the names right, but basically everything else is horseshit, and they leave out an enormous amount (for example, as far as I can recall, King John Balliol – the man whose claim to the Scottish throne Wallace was fighting for – is never even mentioned). Funnily enough, the most glaring howler is actually the title of the damn film: Wallace was never known as Braveheart, that was Robert the Bruce!

    Seriously, don’t bother. If you ever find yourself thinking about watching it, do something more fun instead – like repeatedly punching yourself in the nuts.

  24. says

    Dunc@#23:
    It’s not so much ahistorical as anti-historical…

    One place where I worked, some of the engineers referred to coding in a certain programming language as “subtractive knowledge” – the more you did it, the less you knew when you were finished. It sounds like Braveheart is “subtractive history.” Although “anti-history” per your usage also sounds good – but is there a huge energy release when anti-history and history collide? Perhaps that’s what’s happening in Charlottesville: the large history collider.

    I like your description, though. That sounds like American History run through a neural network AI. Which is pretty much what it’s already been. Was Washington played by Humphrey Bogart?

  25. says

    Andrew Dalke@#22:
    I guess it’d depend on the order of the videos. I don’t know when he allegedly had his epiphany, and I don’t know when Live on Sunset Strip was recorded. I believe that was before his accident, and subsequent downtime. I’m afraid I don’t know much about Pryor other than that one performance.

  26. Dunc says

    Was Washington played by Humphrey Bogart?

    Hell no – Bogie was a great actor. To maintain the analogy, I’m going with… Chuck Norris. In blackface.

  27. says

    Although, sometimes I am angry and deliberately slip a bit of spice in there. I don’t know if anyone notices it here or not, since nobody has tried to yellow-flag me yet.

    I noticed. I got the impression that your posts about war atrocities or police violence had such words, while your posts about things like soap didn’t, so my gut feeling was that you probably do that whenever you are angry about the topic (I never did a statistical analysis about your word usage frequency, so I abstained from jumping to conclusions).

    I don’t see a point in flagging people. If I dislike somebody’s vocabulary (or ideas, or choice of topics, or attitudes, or whatever else), then that’s my not their problem and I will solve my problem by stopping reading their content.

  28. Andrew Dalke says

    @#25, I take it it’s been a while since you’ve watched the performance?

    As far as I can tell, that clip I pointed you to earlier comes from “Live on the Sunset Strip.” For example, see IMDB’s quotations page at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084597/trivia?tab=qt&ref_=tt_trv_qu wherein he recounts his trip to Africa and his changed views. Also, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hULhZqhw9yU has the same clip, and attributes it to “Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip”.

    Roger Ebert’s review of the movie says “He is back on a stage for the first time since he set himself on fire.” An abridged version of the show, without his revelation, is on YouTube. The description of his drug addition and fire starts at https://youtu.be/-u5mwcMgh0Q?t=1780 .

    I interpret this to mean that his epiphany, his accident, and subsequent downtime were all before “Live on the Sunset Strip”, and that that the performance itself is sufficient to support that interpretation.

    On the topic of labels, at https://youtu.be/-u5mwcMgh0Q?t=686 he talks about Mexicans in jail and how they are all tattooed and none of them wear shirts.

  29. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#28:
    I got the impression that your posts about war atrocities or police violence had such words, while your posts about things like soap didn’t

    There are some things that ought to piss people off. I don’t think exclamation points do the job as well.

    One of my high school classmates, Alex C., was always very well-spoken and never swore or even raised his voice. One day (I don’t even remember what happened!) he had an accident in the common room of the school, and yelled, “OY FUCKING VEY!” and the entire school froze in shock, and looked at him. Our English teacher, Mr Downs, led a discussion on the use of swear-words, after that, and cited Alex as an example. It was memorable, obviously. Swear too much, and it becomes like “um” and you don’t hear it. I’m pretty sure everyone who was there remembers Alex’ outburst in 1979 as if it was yesterday.

  30. says

    @#30

    I learned this lesson the exact opposite way. I grew up with a family member who raised her voice and used swear words very often. The result was that in our family everybody ignored it whenever she was yelling yet again. Her ridiculously frequent outbursts were never taken seriously. And there was another curious result. We had no way of telling whether she was really angry or whether she was just raising her voice yet again. Whenever my relative really meant it, she had no way of communicating it. We always kept on assuming that she is just acting out yet again and expected her to calm down in a moment.

    This relative is the very reason why I raise my voice or use swear words so rarely.

Leave a Reply