Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Freedom to Speak = Freedom to Swear

The UK has a principle of free speech.  This has been restricted in recent years with the introduction of hate crimes which mean you can be arrested for making racist and religious insults to people.  I assume that this also applies to sexist comments, but there do not seem to have been any arrests on that basis just yet.  What is important to note is that these are generally made at people as a form of verbal assault.  However, even if using such terms in general and heard by someone of a particular group, you run the risk of being arrested.  Given that such verbal abuse is often the starting point of more serious attacks, I support the legislation against such behaviour.

What I am going to talk about in this posting is general swearing.  This is not directed at people, but typically the universe in general or at inanimate objects, very often cars and computers.  As someone who has been constantly shafted in his life, usually simply on the whim of someone in power, sometimes swearing is the only thing I have left.  It is an outlet for the pent-up frustration when you know that nothing you do is ever going to be able to get back at the person who has treated you so badly.  It also is essential when dealing with machinery which behaves in an irrational manner or at least functions in a way that you can tell no reason for it doing so.  These days with computers both at home and in the workplace I feel as if I only get to do what I want to do in the few moments between the computer running itself.  Most of the time I simply have to bow what it sees as more important than my choices - constantly downloading new versions of software I do not use or that lead to no noticeable change and even altering my documents to the format it favours.  The computer is no longer my servant, it is an arrogant sod who allows me some crumbs once in a while.  At work I was issued a new computer last month and now it takes 30-40 minutes to boot up every morning, often requiring to be started 4-7 times to even achieve this.  Three IT staff have looked at it, but, as yet none have been able to resolve the problem.

I swear because often it is all I have left.  The alternative is to fall to the floor sobbing and the risk with that is you will be arrested 'for your own safety' and risk being sanctioned.  However, increasingly people including some women, but primarily men as being censored in what they say.  A certain set of people, typically white, middle-aged women, seem to feel they have the right to go around censoring what complete strangers say.  I am getting sick of them pursuing me in towns simply to lecture me that I should not have said 'fuck' when my groceries fell to the floor or I was cut up once again at a roundabout.  The swearing was not aimed at them and in fact was none of their business.  I constantly hear people spouting opinions that to me are ignorant or offensive, but would never think of stepping in and saying, 'you must not say that people on benefits are scroungers' even though it is in large part a lie peddled by 'Daily Mail', because in fact, these days, two-thirds of those who need benefits to be able to pay their rents and eat are in work.  Yet, I withhold, recognising I live in a democracy with some civil liberties remaining. 

In contrast, these women feel they have the right, indeed the duty to pursue me and lambast me for swearing. On the recent holiday one pursued me for more than five hundred metres to lecture me and the people I was with.  They stretch what was an instant of fury into a prolonged encounter.  They seek to treat me like a child.  I imagine that they get some thrill out of it; some sense of satisfaction and that shows how misplaced their efforts are.  They would be far better off challenging racist and sexist language and simply erroneous facts about so much that you hear daily in public places.  However, they lack the imagination for that.  Instead they get their hit of indignation through challenging words not aimed at them at all.  We are not living in a Jane Austen novel and even if we were in the early 19th century, these women would be surprised to hear all kinds of offensive language.  They judge based on a distorted view of the past and a sense that their self-importance is not sufficiently stoked up without getting angry about anything they can find, even though it is in fact of no importance.

Swearing is therapeutic and very necessary.  Swearing is an element of freedom of expression.  Until the UK has fully turned into an authoritarian state, interfering people need to back off and let people express themselves.  It is none of their business.  They only do it for some kind of buzz.  There are numerous more important things they could be putting their efforts into.  Stand up for your rights to speak and within that your democratic right to swear.  No censorship!

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