Cursing in Public: Should It Really be Taboo?

Is swearing really that bad? Is there really something wrong with cursing? I have come to tell you that there isn’t anything wrong with swearing. 

Emma Di Coio, Reporter

The new Netflix docuseries “The History of Swear Words” that came out earlier this year poses an interesting question: Is swearing really that bad? Is there really something wrong with cursing? I have come to tell you that there isn’t anything wrong with swearing.  Now I know what you might be thinking, Why do you say that? Here’s why: they are just words. 

I’ll admit they are offensive words and sure there is a word that is primarily used misogynistically (which I would not agree with a man using against a woman) but overall curse words are just words. We’ve just decided to stigmatize and taboo those specific ones out of our vocabulary for public discourse. My counter question to whoever says ‘no we shouldn’t swear’ is why not?  Is there a real reason why we shouldn’t swear? Think about it without using society’s constructs to give your reasons because once you get past all of those you’ll see I’m right. 

Everybody’s going to get offended at some point, and it doesn’t really matter who you are. Somebody’s always gonna be upset with you no matter what you say or how you say it, with or without swear words. Offending people by cursing shouldn’t really matter, but somehow it matters so much that these words are taboo to say in public, or over cable TV. They are a large reason for the rating system we have in television today.

 Now I know some of these words don’t have the best meaning. However basically all -except one or two- have changed definitions throughout history. One meant ‘To hit originally, another meant ‘female dog’ and another was a word for excrement. A few could be seen in last names in history. These words over time have just been selected by who knows who, to be words we shouldn’t say.

The reason why these words are actually so fun to say though, is that they do not come from the language portion of our brain that is located in our cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex’s main job is what scientists call the higher order brain functions. No these swear words have been proved to come from the basal ganglia, in the brain’s interior. This is where we share the same brain systems with our primate cousins. (and even share it with reptiles) This is why there is a cathartic feeling when you swear, when you feel better afterwards. Where swear words come from in the brain is not the only thing that is different about them, the way we process those Not Safe For Work words is also different from other words. 

When we hear or read an offensive word instead of being processed through the cerebral cortex where language is normally processed, swear words go straight to the amygdala where the fight or flight response lives. The amygdala is also responsible for anxiety and anger, so it only seems right that offensive words would be processed there. These words are automatically processed in our primate brains as a threat. I’ll admit, sure that might be a good enough reason to not swear, but does it really trump the stress relief you feel after swearing?

Swearing is considered by some to be improper but the study of language throughout history shows that words have evolved over time and are used today in different ways and in different contexts. The biological impact of swearing reveals that it has less to do with normal language usage and more to do with expression and release of stress and emotion. Whether or not you swear openly is up to you, but swearing shouldn’t be considered offensive and can bring a certain sense of satisfaction that has been proven by science.