On My (Lack of) Use of Profanity

Longtime readers of my work will notice that unlike the work of many other radical libertarians who produce blogs or videos, my content is almost completely devoid of profanity. As an explanation of this may help illuminate some important libertarian principles, I will take time to inform my readers concerning my lack of use of profanity.

Some of the greatest benefits of liberty are the ability to assert one’s individual preferences and work out one’s biases in action. Because I own my own publishing platform, I can exercise exclusive control over it for the purpose of publishing original content that suits my liking. As such, my choice to generally abstain from foul language is not dictated by any external policy (as was the case when publishing elsewhere), but is purely a personal choice. That being said, I also respect the personal choices of others to use profanity, which is why some of my articles do contain an occasional swear word within the context of quoting someone else. A critic may object that I am occasionally driven to wrath on social media discussion boards, but I keep this in a separate and distinct location from my articles and limit my interaction with people who make me sufficiently angry to swear.

While this would be a sufficient answer to a simple question concerning my lack of foul language, it would hardly be worth writing an article just to say this much. Thus, I will spend the remainder of this article explaining why my personal preference is what it is.

I was raised in a Protestant Christian home, where using profanity was generally frowned upon, even more so for children. While this restriction slowly eased as I grew older, I still had a sense that such language was only to be used in extraordinary circumstances. Some swear words were unknown to me even as late as my first year of middle school. Even though my general outlook has slowly evolved from Christian conservative authoritarian to secular reactionary libertarian, there are several good secular reasons to mostly refrain from using profanity.

First, it can turn off some people who would otherwise be receptive to one’s message. If one is the first libertarian that a potential convert has ever met and one’s first answer to that person resembles “F*** the state!,” then that person can get the perception that libertarians are crude people who lack the ability to make good arguments in favor of their beliefs, and a bad first impression is a hard thing to erase. This brings us to the second reason, which is the appearance of a lack of intelligence. Using profanity, especially en masse, creates a perception that the communicator is uneducated, undignified, perpetually angry, and generally unfit to be considered as a worthy intellectual. As someone who wishes to influence public discourse for the purpose of moving society in a libertarian direction, it is important to avoid such a perception. An intelligent person should be able to accurately describe one’s ideas and feelings without having to resort to vulgarities.

Third, there is something of a conservation of impact when using profanity. A person who heavily peppers one’s conversation with curses is simply considered to talk that way, with the profane words having little to no impact. But if a person uses profanity only rarely, then it will grab the attention of the audience in the few cases in which it is used. Fourth, using profanity tends to short-circuit reasoned debate in favor of emotional outbursts. The person who first resorts to emotionalism, name-calling, and other related tactics is the person who has run out of reason and evidence, and is thus in a state of defeat. There is no need for a libertarian to do this because both the logic and the historical evidence are on the side of liberty.

Fifth, profanity has no real meaning. Of course, the words generally considered to be profane have dictionary definitions, but the words are usually used outside of that context as a general swear. The curse words perform no function that is not performed by one’s speaking tone, body language, and literary context. Sixth and seventh, for the above reasons, profanity demonstrates a lack of creativity and efficiency.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to use profanity and if so, how much is a subjective value judgment that each individual content producer must make. But as for me, I fail to see the benefit of resorting to foul language, and the drawbacks discussed above lead me to avoid it as much as possible.

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  • paul kersey

    fuck this article

    • Matthew Reece

      I guess someone had to come in and do that. Sigh…