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In Defense of Bad Words

I confess. In some of my novels, characters . . . cuss. A little.

Damn and hell, but keeping God of it. And some vulgarities, scatological variety. Nothing sexist. I detest the b---- word. And never ever ever vulgar or obscene words for sexual acts or parts of the body.

When I read other contemporary fiction (literary), such as Zadie Smith, for example, I expose myself to a flow of such "words." I use a few, and have been told my publishers and writing colleagues that I need more to be more authentic. That won't be happening. I don't write much about the kind of people to where that would be authentic.

I am sure that what few words I do use are quite disturbing to some of my readers, who may stop being readers because they assume I would use more and more in other books. I assure you, some books have none of this language. Sudden Future, just released, and Long Lost Justice, still in process, do.

So why do I use them? Because the characters are not Christians (as if Christians don't ever use these words!), because I am not writing for children, because anything in my books is far less vulgar than anything on television or movies except for explicitly religious shows, AND because that is how people really talk. I am writing realistic stories. Consequently, I really can't apologize for them. That would be hypocritical, because I plan to keep doing it.

And I will add this after the fact: what makes a bad word "bad?" "Piss" is in the original versions of the King James (Authorized) Version. So is "bastard." B--- is unacceptable to me because its origin is female dogs, and therefore demeaning. The "F" word, don't get me started there. And racial slurs are a whole different matter. Some words, like s--- and a--- are bad because of their usage in context more than their origin or meaning, and again, they are inappropriate in most discourse and demeaning to people either as the audience or as the object of the word's usage. So in many respects it is the purpose rather than the word itself. That is not a defense, just an observation.

We are living in a time where words we always thought were fine or unquestionable are questioned because of gender ideologies. I personally can't keep up with those changes. At least in fiction, you can hide behind a character! (sort of kidding, sort of not).

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