Keeping it real …profane

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Melanie Buer

It seems to be that every time I visit my mother at home, she always catches me cussing about one thing or another. Each time she’ll purse her lips, narrow her eyes and wave away the profanity saying, “You sound ridiculous. Stop cussing – it’s not professional.”

Ignoring the obvious fact that she’s just as prone as I am to cussing up a storm, I find it easier to roll my eyes and remember that around certain company, the profanity just isn’t worth it. The classroom, however, is not one of those inappropriate places.

A recent interview with Dr. Frank Bramlett by local news affiliate KETV shed a bit more light on the practice of swearing. Bramlett, a linguistics professor here at UNO, maintains that swearing is a matter of free speech and helps people to express themselves.

While the creative writer in me cringes at the thought of replacing amazing emotive words and expressions with cussing, I can’t help but agree.

Using profanity in everyday speech is a signifier of a relative ease with one-self. I find that the people around me who aren’t visibly uncomfortable by the use of cuss words are more relatable.
Some of my favorite classes were ones where the professors themselves were unafraid to throw in a cuss word or two where appropriate. To me, it’s not a sign of unprofessionalism in that professor. It’s more a chance for me to connect with a person in academia who would have otherwise seemed a bit too unavailable.

Granted, replacing every other word with an F-bomb can be tedious, but the ability for students to express themselves both in and outside of the classroom in the way they are comfortable with is important.

Although I would rather hear more creative expressions of speech than variations of the same seven words, I can’t deny that each cuss word holds weight in the modern vernacular.

So, is profanity a matter of free speech? Hell yeah it is.

The idea that professors should be policing speech as it relates to profanity seems ridiculous and outdated to me. In that sense, Dr. Bramlett is right; to allow students to use cuss words in the classroom, and to encourage a freer atmosphere of exploring that part of the English language teaches a valuable lesson about censorship.


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