Americans are afraid of words, especially the angl0-saxon ones having to do with sex or the tools one uses to do it. It's a juvenile fascination with the forbidden -- tell a joke with the word "butt" in it to a room full of five-year-olds and listen to the giggles. When it comes to the bad words, we are nation of five year olds. Or old ladies.
George Carlin's Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV? Still can't use half of them, except on premium cable. I also like Carlin's line,"You can prick your finger, but you better not finger your prick ..."
So instead of staying "fuck" when you mean to use the coarse term for "fornicate," you'll see the family paper or newsmagazine change it to "f ---," or worse, to (expletive deleted). As in, 'Go "(expletive deleted) yourself, you (expletive deleted.)'
If you write ef-blank-blank-blank instead of "fuck," there's not a person in the country over age five or six who doesn't know what you mean.
F--k? Um ... fire truck ... ? Why would you say you don't give a fire truck?
Ever see a picture of somebody holding up a middle finger and have that finger blurred? Network TV and basic cable both do that. They bleep The Daily Show and nobody is fooled. Basketball games, you don't need to be much of a lip-reader to realize those athletic fellows are cursing like, well, basketball players.
I mean, come on, how stupid is that, to blur or bleep a finger on TV? People going to stop watching TV if they see somebody giving somebody the finger? Will "damn," or "piss" or "fuck" cause whole towns to drop dead of mortification? Send granny or little Tommy round the bend forever?
Today's paper, a column on riding the bus. The writer, restricted in her language, points out that a passenger is wearing a hat with the line "Stuff happens." on it. Only, she says, it's not "stuff," but a word like it and not something she can use in the paper.
Is there anybody capable of reading that article who doesn't know that the word she's cleverly telling us without actually saying it is "shit?"
I'm a writer, and I know words have power, but only as much as somebody is willing to give them. This puritanical horror of "bad" language is, not to put too fine a point on it, stupid. Anybody who thinks that if little Tommy hears the f-word (and, oh, yeah, I'm talking about "fuck," here) he's going to run looking for some heroin to shoot up before he goes on a killing spree is madder than the Hatter and the March Hare. You don't think he hears little Billy and Susie saying "Fuck!" on the school ground every day? You need to get out more.
Google the word "fuck," you get one hundred and thirty-three million hits.
Get over it, America. That fucking ship has sailed.