by Khristan Antoine
Like any other art work, journalism has its own beauty and language. But what happens when that language is simply not enough? As student journalists, we are handcuffed by rules that say we can’t use certain words like sh*t, p*ss, f*ck, c*nt, c*cks*cker, motherf*cker, and t*ts.
We resort to using words that tame the real, strong emotion behind a significant quote even if it was uttered in the heat of the moment: just last week, an ecstatic Lady Warrior, who recently won the OAL championship after 37 years of deadends, said “We f***ing go.” And we had to use asterisks. In some school newspapers, we couldn’t even use the asterisks or the word.
For f*ck’s sake, we can’t even write a review of a rap album because we won’t be able to quote verbatim a decent lyric that portrays the meaning of the song entirely or precisely.
And there are myriad other examples. In an interview with a student for another story, the student talked about how her parents told her to wash the dishes and she sat on her butt and continued watching TV. After a while, they began to lose their patience and resorted to the language we all know as authoritative. She heard a loud bang and a scream that pierced the atmosphere. “Get your fu***ng a$$ up and do the God da*n dishes!” As she told us, “sh*t just got serious. ”
Cuss words carry the emotion of the person speaking them. They don’t necessarily harm or insult anybody but they make a strong impression. They change the tone of the conversation.
Words were never meant to be “bad.” Who gets to decide what is acceptable or not? I fuc**ng think words, all kinds of words, are just that: words. They were designed to fulfill their purpose to communicate and express emotion. If a word achieves its purpose, does it cease to be a good word? What a silly thing to suppose that words are bad or good.
A word is only as good or as useful as its context. As some may argue, cuss words detract from the eloquent nature of language, allowing for a lazier approach to social intercourse (you can SAY intercourse, but not the F word).
What censorship fails to address is inequality: not everyone has access to an education that provides the tools necessary to develop a more extensive vocabulary fit for use in society or even fit for a high school journalism blog.
I s**t you not, sometimes words unify and make it easier to have significant conversations — break ups, family showdowns, disciplinary lectures, just plain hurt feelings.
I do not believe “cuss words” should be the only words used in a daily interaction. There should be a professional level to everything and anything discussed or shared but cuss words unite us all. They’re so basic that there’s no possible miscommunication.