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What fuckery is this?

Lezlie Lowe explores the subtleties of strong language.



Everyone swears, don't they?

I don't mean that "COCKSUCKA!" Deadwood brand of extreme profanity. But everyone swears—toe stubbing (quick out of the mouth: goddamnit!), telling your kid to get her shoes and sweater on and finding her 10 minutes later in underwear reading a book (under breath, teeth clenched: jesus, jesus, jesus), getting doored on your SuperCycle in the Brunswick bike lane (upon collision: faaaackkkkkk). You know. That kind of thing.

Even septuagenarian firecrackers like Mary Vaughan do it.

It's old news now but Vaughan, 73, told one of her building superintendents to fuck off. Now the Almon Place resident is fighting being given the boot from her seniors' complex for it. (And fighting gossiping, too. Don't forget gossiping. Shhh....Eunice's been into the rum with Larry the janitor, did you hear?) Vaughan's out on her arse August 31 unless her legal aid lawyer can figure things out.

Evicted for dropping the F-bomb. Pul-eeze. Decorum— in my book—dictates that age 73 is a ripe time for telling people to fuck off. By then, you've lived long enough to really tell when someone needs to hear it.

See, swearing may be indelicate, but that's the point. It's a reality of language, for Christ's sake. Of life.

But people freaked—and I mean FREAKED, but never, like, you know, by actually swearing—about the FLICK OFF campaign to educate people about the impact of left-on electricity on greenhouse gas emissions. Remember those posters? FLICK OFF, they said, except it looked like FUCK OFF. You still see shreds of them here and there downtown.

There were letters to the editor, for the love of Christ! I have one here I'm pained to mock because it's from a 14-year-old boy from Timmins, Ontario, but I'm finding quoting it irresistible. Let me tell you, he is not only "shocked and appalled" but "truly saddened." Implying the word FUCK by clever font design to get people's attention about energy conservation is, he says, "throwing our morals and values out the window."

Oh fuck me.

Sweet boy from Timmins: the worry, in fact, is not that the campaign is offensive, but that the word "fuck" is so ubiquitous that it may have no impact whatsoever. (Moreover, please know that when we're facing possible catastrophic climate change, you'll be swearing along with the rest of us.)

And that stands if you're merely "shocked and appalled" or if you've been professionally trained to block naughty words from your rosebud lips.

Yes, trained. Have you heard of The Cuss Control Academy?

The Cuss Control Academy ( offers workplace training for employees lacking that special can-do attitude. That is, the ones who swear. I didn't realize everyday vulgar banter between consenting adults is a no-no. Maybe that's why I'm sitting here in my bathing suit at home cobbling together my thoughts and looking up swear words in Sterling Johnson's Watch Your Fucking Language: How to swear effectively, explained in explicit detail and enhanced by numerous examples taken from everyday life. I keep it on my desk. You'll note: I have no desk in a people-populated workplace.

Maybe I need to change my ways, before I end up like Mary Vaughan, in a seniors' apartment facing eviction over my potty mouth. Perhaps I could learn to "think positively," as the Cuss Control Academy suggests. "A positive mental attitude not only eliminates lots of swearing, it brings you contentment and brightens your personality."

Hmmm...I think fucking not.

Had abso-fucking-lutely enough? Bring it on:

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