Fuckin’ right, Chicago!” With those words, for the second year in a row, Corey Crawford caused the media to clutch their collective pearls and go into a faint.
Honestly, I don’t understand why F-bombs are such a burning issue for supposedly intelligent adults. “Bad” words do not exist. There are bad thoughts, there are bad deeds, there are bad intents, but no bad words. Spoken language is nothing more than phonemes strung together in a way that conveys information to a listener. Phoque is French for seal (the animal); the phonemes are identical to those in “fuck”, and in the same order, and yet phoque isn’t a swear word in French. It’s the thought process behind the word that gives these phonemes meaning. Dirtiness is in the brain of the beholder.
In the movie The Sound of Music, the Mother Abbess says, “Maria, our abbey is not to be used as an escape. What is it you can’t face?” But because of her accent, it sounds very much like “What is it, you cunt face?” which, when you think about it, is absurdly funny in context.
I used to work as an administrative assistant to a doctor named Shitij Kapur, whose name kept getting flagged by computers in email correspondence and on message boards. Objectively speaking, that was, you know, remarkably silly. He told me that he’d had to put up with a sniggering attitude not only during his career, but throughout his youth and all the way through medical school.
You may notice that I used the word “sniggering”. Or maybe you didn’t. Congratulations if the word didn’t make you feel queasy because of what follows the “s”. That means you have a refreshingly mature attitude towards language. Remember a number of years ago when that aide to the Mayor of Washington DC got into trouble for using the word “niggardly” to describe his budget constraints? He meant “stingy” and “narrow”, but some staffers unfamiliar with the word got all bent out of shape because they thought he was using a racial slur. He was more or less forced to leave his position, but thankfully he was hired back, so the story had a happy ending at least. What was really offensive was that he should have had to suffer for others’ ignorance, and it made me want to use the word “niggardly” as much as possible, just to poke the prudes where they needed to be poked.
Related to this is the word “Jew”, which to me is “someone who practises Judaism”, but as far back as I can remember, people have been reluctant to say “Jew” due to its antisemitic connotations when used as a verb with a lower-case “j”, so instead they go out of their way to say “Jewish persons”. This avoidance, while well-meaning, has led to an overall impression that the word “Jew” is a slur in itself and in all applications, This has an unintended but dangerous consequence: once you get it into your head that “Jew” is a bad word, eventually you’re going to start thinking that Jews are bad people. Really, if you call Christians Christians, Muslims Muslims, Buddhists Buddhists, and Hindus Hindus, then there’s no reason not to call Jews Jews.
But back to the word “fuck”. Corey Crawford is a goalie, not some withered up old school marm from the 1950s who, as my mom would put it, “wouldn’t say shit if her mouth was full of it,” and he’s addressing a huge crowd of happy Blackhawks fans. If his language offends some people’s sensitive virgin ears, well, one has to consider the context. Sometimes “fuck” is exactly the right word. That’s hockey. That’s language. That’s life.
And for those who would argue that they don’t want their kids hearing that kind of dirty talk, exactly what do they think their little darlings hear (and say) every single day at recess? If they’re anything like what we were like, I can guarantee that it’s a hell of a lot worse.
Parents, don’t keep your children in a linguistic bubble. Your prudery will do them no good and will not prepare them for the real world. This is not to say you have to talk like a stevedore all the time, but your babies have to learn context. Teach them that words are not to be feared, and that each one is just another arrow in their quiver. And that includes a well-chosen F-bomb.