Ep 78 – Swearing

Written by on May 25, 2014

Do you swear like a sailor? Do you judge other people who do? Jake leads a panel discussion with Bob, Randy, and Glenn about swearing as a part of Mormon culture.
You can take our swearing survey here:

  1. Roger   On   May 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I’m going to push back a little on the idea that we need prudes in our society to make profanity work. Everyone has at least three different persona they use in their daily life: informal familiar, informal unfamiliar, and formal/hierarchal. Profanity has most of its power because of its domain of use. Even if we lived in a society where everyone swore, there would still be one kind of language you’d use with you’re boss, one kind of language you’d use with your server at a restaurant, and one type you use with your friends, and there would be a place of discomfort and/or comedy if you used the wrong word in the wrong context.
    I personally have an adverse emotional reaction to profanity prohibition. It was one of the smaller buttons in my own trial of faith, as I saw it as a meaningless and arbitrary restriction… it was something that felt bad because I was taught that it should make me feel bad, not that it was something that was genuinely wrong. I remember feeling a sense of judgement and disapproval at a family event where my faithful brother and I were in a kayak and we hopped out and I stepped on a small cactus and let loose a profane word… and felt it was supremely stupid that I felt socially pressured to use nice language in the exact situation that profanity exists to fill.

    • Randy_Snyder   On   May 26, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      Excellent point but would it really feel as good to use these words if they lost true taboo status given by moralists in society to never be used in any circumstance and only became common but potentially “out of context” words?

      • Roger   On   May 26, 2014 at 4:48 pm

        I really can’t say for sure, but your hypothetical strikes me as a little unrealistic. I suspect that due to the fluid/organic nature of language and human psychology that there will always be taboo words because there will always be taboo subjects, and there will be a gradient of synonyms referencing that taboo that pack a different punch.
        In the event that our current list of taboo words become totally washed out, we’ll figure out a way to put an extra bite into what we have to say. People are far too clever to let familiarity get in the way of a good expletive.

      • Randy_Snyder   On   May 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

        Actually it was your hypothetical society I was responding to of “even if we lived in a society where EVERYONE swore…” Not unrealistic to you?

  2. Joel   On   May 27, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Great podcast. You may have covered this but perhaps one reason swearing is discouraged in mormonism is because swearing is associated with emotions or experiences that are themselves discouraged, like anger or irreverance. Rather than let loose with a loud swear to give full reign to our emotions, we’re supposed to just “turn it off.” The absence of swearing becomes a marker of control over the natural man.

    • Duke of Earl Grey   On   May 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      I’ve heard something similar from different TBMs on separate occasions, who were trying to explain to me why they disapproved of even faux swear words like freakin’. They said the bad feelings behind it were just the same, so it was just as bad as the real word. I felt that I personally used such fake swear words more out of frustration than anger, so if frustration is a sin, big freakin’ deal…

  3. pkrey   On   May 27, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I find many post Mormons become a little “infantile” when it
    comes to swearing, especially right after their disaffection.
    I have usually been the only Mormon in my places of work and
    swearing is rarely appropriate (I work with developers mostly). I have tried my hand at some work cussing and it just doesn’t go over well. At one place we had an employee from Brazil who liked to swear a lot, probably because he missed the social queues on how gauche it sounded to everyone else.
    Others take advantage of more appropriate times for swearing, and then use it too gratuitously. We get it, youโ€™re wearing your big boy pants.
    My question to the Royal infants is, do you find it acceptable
    to swear at work? I also see that most podcasters treat their podcasts like work. See where Iโ€™m going with this? ๐Ÿ˜‰ In other words, dropping Mormonism does not remove the social inappropriateness of swearing in certain parts of society. The trick is to know which parts.
    I am not above swearing. I tend to go crazy in the car, a bit with my brothers and close friends. Anyway, do what the fuck you want to, I just wanted to get your feedback on how duchy you shitheads get in professional situations. Keep up the good work, and I mean shitheads in the most affectionate way.

    • Randy_Snyder   On   May 27, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      “[I cuss] a bit with my close friends…” Exactly. That’s what we always wanted this podcast to be. Natural conversations amongst friends. Like I said in the podcast, cussing was always there. Leaving made me authentically myself so it wasn’t like I douchely tried to become something unnatural just bc I wanted to show I had “big boy pants” on. The real me was finally unleashed and it felt great.
      But I’m an orthodontist so obviously I’m not cussing in front of pre-teens, teens, and their parents. I’d have to be a social idiot. And many of my referring dentists are Mormon so again, I’m not an idiot when I talk to them. But with my Ortho partners who aren’t Mormon, when we go out for drinks, we all swear every time we want to make emphatic points to each other. Like I said, I’m sensitive to my audience but cussing does and has always come naturally to me. It’s never been an act.

      • Randy_Snyder   On   May 27, 2014 at 10:26 pm

        And the day we treat this fucking podcast like work is the day it stops being fun. You see where I’m going with this? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Elder Vader   On   July 25, 2014 at 11:28 pm

        I mentally made a policy on profanity about 3-5 months back. I only use profanity around people I like and trust. And people who wouldn’t be hurt by those words.

  4. jeff   On   May 28, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Great podcast and good work. I really appreciate what you all do. I had a conversation with my 14 yr old son that made me think of y’all and the “hypocritical parenting”. I told my son to turn off the tv because he had been watching too much. He says, “you watch way more than me.” I replied, “I probably watch too much as well, but I am 37 so I get to make those decisions.” He says, “I can make my own decisions as well.” I foolishly reply, “Oh you think you are ready to make all your own decisions?” He says, “Yea, I have been baptized!” Damn church!!!
    Thanks again and good discussion and thoughts as always! If you ever need a real dentist and not just an orthodontist on the podcast let me know!

    • Randy_Snyder   On   May 28, 2014 at 5:00 am

      Ha ha Jeff. But recently I tried to help out at a charity dentistry function and thought I could still pull teeth. I was great at it in dental school 11 years ago! My favorite rotation. But after the “real” dentists had to bail me out the third time, I was sent in shame to do free cleanings.

      • jeff   On   May 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

        That’s really funny. I hate cleaning teeth. I think I am just secretly jealous because everyone loves their orthodontist (you make them look good), and everyone hates their dentist (we just hurt them).

    • Randy_Snyder   On   May 29, 2014 at 5:15 am

      Bob, Steven Pinker’s chapter in his book The Stuff of Thought on taboo words was my prep work for this podcast. About 30-40 minutes of me pontificating on his arguments was cut out with my blessing bc it was boring and pedantic. But I spliced in some stuff from it on the content that made the cut.

  5. Vic Ferrari   On   May 30, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Loved the episode. You didn’t really bring up an area of cussing (where I grew up, we referred to it as cussing rather than swearing) I’ve always thought interesting in the Mormon experience.
    I grew up in rural N. Utah, and a measure of cussing was allowed among the Bretheren. Damn and hell were pretty much always kosher other than in Church. All of the rest, with the exception of “fuck” and sexually lewd words, were tolerated in moderation just so long as they were not done in front of women, and were directed at livestock or farm equipment. So from about age 14, if we were out with the cattle, horses or working in the barn I could rip out a “dammit to hell!” or a “sonuvabitch!” So long as it was done in moderation, my bishopric member father wouldn’t bat an eye at it. The SP was a cattle rancher, and he even cussed quite regularly.
    There was a gentlemanly way to do it, though – not too crass, no “fucks,” and not around women. Very civilized.

  6. ed   On   June 1, 2014 at 4:03 am

    I didn’t catch who said that his mother wouldn’t let them call each other stupid, but my mother was like that also, so we 3 brothers switched to “Idiot”, which she soon forbade, so we shortened it to “id” which eventually became “ed”, which we to this day (40 years later) still call each other as both a greeting and especially when another messes up something. Thanks for the memories.

    • Vic Ferrari   On   June 1, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Interesting – my brother and I have the exact same thing with the name “Dell.” It’s concurrently a term of affection and derision.

      • PM   On   July 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        Our family uses several. The foremost of which is Randy. This comes from the movie A Christmas Story. ‘Get up Randy. Come on Randy.’ Randy leads to Robbie or Robb (The Reid Brothers). We also use Ben. Inspired by L. Skywalker when he sees Mr. Kenobi fighting DV.

  7. Allison   On   June 1, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I grew up knowing that adults swore, and when I was an adult, I too would get that privilege because I’d understand how to use it properly. Same as driving. Or sex. Or voting. Then, I joined the church as a teenager and I had to give up the “terrible habits” I’d learned: how to cuss only around friends and never adults, how to spew out a curse-filled stream-of-consciousness insult at someone with just the right cadence, rhythm, and sting. All of the sudden I had to say “golly!” instead of the much more cathartic “GOOD LORD!” So for me, one of the sweetest goddamn mercies of leaving the church is to get to fucking cuss again. It feels like taking off a way too-tight pair of pants I’d been wearing for more than a decade.

  8. Beardliness is Godliness   On   June 30, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Flipping funny podcast guys! You hosers make for some good fun conversation!
    I thought the conversation got a little bogged down on the “but what do you teach the children??” I wanted to jump into the conversation with my two bits. Ultimately it came around to adults have different rules than kids, which I think is best stated as “age appropriate.” I swear around my kids and when people give me shit for doing so I say that I want them to learn swearing in the home, not from some bastard on the playground! Makes sense right? I want to raise responsible swearers, those that know how, when and where. I tell my kids that when they are adults, moved out of the house and paying their own way, then they’ve earned the right to swear around their old man, until then, I don’t want to hear them swearing around me or other adults or friends that will rat them out to an adult. Now is the time for them to prepare to be responsible cursers- ha, ha!
    Have any of you read “Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing” by Melissa Mohr? I’m currently in the middle and it is insightful, giving data and background to several of the points mused about in the podcast.
    Keep up the decompressive irreverence!

  9. Ryan   On   September 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Back in the 1980’s I had cassettes (e.g., Metallica and Easy-E) that had profanity. Plus, there was no shortage of profanity at the schoolyard where we played basketball. So I was comfortable with it. But I was raised in a household where my mother would at most use “hell” and that only on very rare occasions. I think I heard my father say “damn” or “hell” once. As a result, I’m not offended by profanity, but I also understand the taboo and generally try to avoid profanity in certain social situations.
    I agree with Randy’s post suggesting that the podcast is a bunch of friends and, in that social context, profanity works. My goal is to raise my kids in such a way that they can be comfortable in situations where profanity is used, but they still abide by social norms where profanity is not acceptable and where using it could harm them (e.g., missing out on job promotions).
    Jake’s observation about “salty language” resonates with me because, in the podcast, sometimes it adds savor. For me, because Randy uses profanity so much, his profanity loses its taboo and sometimes doesn’t add any savor for my listening experience. At other times, I laugh out loud at what Randy says and the profanity made it better. Like salt, it’s how much and when it’s used that makes all the difference for me. That said, I’m not interested in Randy or any other member of the Quorum changing their approach. Keep up the good work.

  10. Bryce Jones   On   January 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

    OK, I realize I’m late to the party here but I just listened to this episode and it’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart.
    In high school we would have swearing contests in the car. Only Mormon teenagers would do something so stupid. But it was awesome. Chock shit balls!
    Once I was skiing and I wiped out right under the lift. I unloaded a string of expletives, I guess. I honestly never remember saying anything. Well, it got back to me that one of the Mormon moms of a girl I thought was cute heard me. I never had a chance with that girl after that.
    Just yesterday I used the term “shit the bed” at work. It was in reference to a new product we’re working on. I don’t care what anyone says, that comment describes perfectly and in such a descriptive manner the possibility of a failed attempt. Nothing else would have had the same effect.
    When Mormons tell me that swearing shows a lack of intelligence it drives me crazy. I have one coworker who can swear so proficiently, he is clearly one of the most intelligent people I know. He’s a genius.

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