2007 - 2021

Profanity Filter

Fuck this shit.

As elite rule takes a turn towards chaos and authoritarianism, ruling class barbarism and increased social violence, it seems we are getting more potty-mouthed in our response. This is long overdue.

Way back in December 2018, your digitally-addled mind may faintly recall, Jeremy Corbyn got into trouble for allegedly calling Theresa May a “stupid woman” (*advanced memo to anyone I don’t give a flying fuck whether he did or not). Whilst fake-TV-sofa-couples creaked with indignation and a thousand columnists wailed in outrage most people just shrugged in mildly comatose disinterest.

Now the question of swearing and conduct has snapped back to our attention with newly elected Muslim congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (pictured above) being filmed suggesting to a crowd of cheering supporters in DC: “We’re gonna go in there and impeach the motherfucker!”

[if anyone globally is any doubt the Motherfucker in question is Suspect No 1].

Setting aside the spectacle of Trump and Trumpistas lecturing anyone about social etiquette, the outbreak is a breakthrough.

As Rebecca Traister writes it’s: “Impossible to know if the vow to impeach the motherfucker will turn out to factually correct, but it’s certainly imaginatively correct. I therefore give it zero Pinocchios & a million dancing-women emojis on my scale of hilariously true things that women are finally saying out loud.”

If there is a strange policing of language and political etiquette as a distraction and a misdirection from what’s actually going on its multiplied for those sections of society who are expected in all normal circumstances to shut up and know their place.

As Mona Eltahawy points out on the importance of profanity: “I say f**k because profanity is an important tool in defying, disobeying and disrupting patriarchy and its rules. Patriarchy punishes women for profanity because it wants us to forever remain within the straitjacket of niceness and politeness, despite the violence it subjects us to. We are not fighting on an equal battlefield. The shock and the offence profanity causes are necessary and important. Surely, misogyny and the violence it visits upon our bodies are more offensive than words? Girls missing school because they cannot afford sanitary is more offensive. Poverty is more violent than insults lobbed at any nation’s president. F**k being polite. F**k being nice.”

Of course there’s a danger that we just end up screaming death threats at each other across the Twittersphere as the world burns, and the descent into frenzied spluttering madness is complete. But learning sanctioned language in a time of unprecedented authoritarianism isn’t useful. Anger needs to cultivated and disobedience needs to be given permission. This isn’t always culturally easy. If the French Gilets Jaunes take down the Champs-Élysées, the English pen a strongly worded letter to the Telegraph or a petition their local LibDem councillor.

Affairs at Westminster (the Motherfucker of all Parliaments ™) is conducted under bizarre arcane rules in which abusing Mhairi Black or mocking peoples language or accent is fine, but clapping isn’t, barking at Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is okay but opposing the imposition of disability cuts is rude.

In Britain political language and behaviour is policed by the tabloids and the social media drones, corralling and highlighting ‘bad behaviour’ whilst being oblivious to social violence and accepting as normal the actions of parliamentarians and the super-rich.

For many of this group Trump acts as a sort of Godfather of Deviant Transgression. The ‘Locker Room Talk’ was just the last spluttering of male power under threat.  But Trump is the first elected politician that has made people actually ashamed to be human, so the idea that being rude about him is somehow verboten is odd.

The idea he is now putting forward now is that he may introduce “emergency powers”, nationalise the land around the border and send in the army to build his wall while keeping the US government shutdown. This may require more than some sweary words.

As political cartoonist Brian McFadden had it, the complaints against Rashida Tlaib’s comments amount to:

“Please don’t dance and cuss. It sets a bad example for the babies in our concentration camps.”




Comments (45)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Agnes Jean Thomson says:

    I prefer wit to scrabrous language. Jean

    1. Jo says:

      I agree Jean. Wit requires intelligence.

  2. Alan Gillen says:

    Agree entirely. Got to ludicrous stage. If Hitler had said let’s kill 6 million f***ing Jews this mealy mouthed lot would complain about his bad language!

  3. Ken Campbell says:

    The use of very common vulgarity to make a point does not represent an intelligent response nor does it elicit further support of the cause. Pathetic.

    1. John O'Dowd says:

      But sometimes nothing else will do.

      This seems beyond our Ken.

      Good for Rashida – and Mike Small.

      And fuck naysayers!

    2. Alan Gillen says:

      Sorry Ken but think you missed the point. People are taking issue with the use of “inappropriate” language rather than what the prime issue was.

    3. Josef Ó Luain says:

      You sound just like my Mother, Ken.

  4. David Milligan says:

    I enjoy your irreverence Mike- keep it up!

  5. Jo says:

    I can’t believe that some see “profanity” from women as “a useful tool” for anything, to be honest.
    Are people really thinking it’s a good thing to see women behaving like this, speaking like this? I have always found the actual mother****** word particularly vile. I’m unsure of its origins but consider it a disgusting term and certainly not one I’d want to hear from any politician, male or female.
    Perhaps the saddest part of this piece is the suggestion that hearing women using vile language is progress, is a sign that they’re becoming stronger. I’m sorry, anyone can curse. It’s hardly an ability to be seen as an amazing achievement! I find the suggestion incredibly depressing.
    Women have plenty to say. Some of us don’t need to throw in vulgar language. In my view it doesn’t add anything. Indeed, it actually takes away from the original message. Those who feel the need to behave like this clearly need a gimmick to attract attention.

    1. H Scott says:

      Well said Jo.

  6. tartanfever says:

    So Boris saying ‘fuck business’ was actually a relevant and snappy soundbite. Who knew ?

  7. Christopher White says:

    Swearing, profanity, whatever you want to call it.
    A comedian on stage swearing their head off and the audience rocking with laughter seems OK?
    A guy on the pavement having his face kicked in accompanied by swearing ?
    Children in our streets an’ schoolyards swearing to impress?
    Or is it simply language in evolution.
    In London there were several streets named Cuntegrope Lane because they were in areas where prostitutes hung out. Over the years the names were changed because they were considered offensive.
    An’ this global warming thing must be earth-swearing.
    An’ the Chinese achieving the first soft-landing on the far side of the moon is absolutely marvellous in my opinion. Or as I heard in the pub yesterday, those Chinese bastards have taken over the fucking
    Moon again.
    It’s all clever words and even cleverer come backs and put downs.
    I think (I know) I gave up trying to make sense of most of it when Corbyn did the stupid thing in trying to outlip the lip readers.
    The stupid bastard … sorry what I said was cupid custard.
    That’s not cockerknee rhyming slang by the way.

    1. Chris Connolly says:

      Most of the words that cause a fainting fit in polite society are simply old-fashioned terms for activities and body parts considered too rude to talk about. According to my copy of Lady Chatterley, there was a case just after WW2 when a soldier was accused of assaulting a man he found in bed with his wife. He told the Court ” I come home after 6 fucking years of fucking war and what do I fucking well find? A man in my fucking bed, having illicit sexual relations with my fucking wife.”

      Personally, I find “fuck” much less offensive than several other words which are used by racists and trolls, but it has become boring through overuse. Particular offenders are the so-called anarchists of Class War, whose idea of a snappy slogan is to simply put the F word in front whatever is they are protesting about, so “Fuck Capitalism” on a Wednesday will become “Fuck the System” on Thursday and “Fuck the Fucking Middle Class Wankers” by Friday. It’s neither funny nor clever, and is certainly not very original.

  8. Sue Bricky says:

    Swear words are just noises. And uttering them can ease the pain of the hammered thumb, the stubbed toe or the sudden realisation that you just lost a fortune because the horse you backed came second. And, yes, the “F” word often is vital in a joke’s punch-line.
    When I was a teenager (sadly a lo-o-ng time ago) my mate, my mother and I were sitting blethering in our sitting room. My mate lit a cigarette (as we did then) and pretended to burn his finger on the match. “Oh, ya ruckin’ fastard,” he cried.
    My mother – deeply religious – looked like Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt. She sat there with her mouth open and stared at him, utterly convinced he had cursed, but intellectually aware that he hadn’t. I thought she was going to burst.
    As I said, swear words are just noises.
    Your point was beautifully put, Mike.

  9. Redgauntlet says:

    The prudes Below The Line today on Bella crack me up…

    Swearing, like almost everything in Scotlandshire, is about social class…

    If you are middle class, or want to be perceived as middle class, you don’t “talk common”, and you get asked “to wash your mouth out with soap and water” if you swear as a child before such people.

    I think people should express themselves as they like. What is all this prudery but acute snobbery in disguise?

    As for that idiotic line about “swearing not being intelligent”, well the aim of swearing is not aimed at being intelligent is it? The aim of swearing is to curse something or somebody or just human existence itself. In Spanish, a common curse is “to shit on God”, that is, to shit on human existence per se…

    In any case, people should express themselves as they feel fit to do so…

    1. Jo says:

      It is not for you to denounce as “prudes” anyone who disagrees with you on this matter. Nor do you have the right to further insult all within the “working class” by suggesting that profanity is the norm for them. It is not the norm for us all. If it is for you, fine, but don’t lump everyone in together using “class”, of all things, to make sweeping generalisations.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Jo, I withdraw the word “prude” if it offends you, but you’re actually saying something similar to me, the difference is, you don’t know it.

        You talk of “vulgar language” further up the page. What does the word “vulgar” mean and where does it come from?

        Here’s what the Oxford dictionary says: “from Latin vulgaris, from vulgus ‘common people’. The original senses were ‘used in ordinary calculations’ (surviving in vulgar fraction) and ‘in ordinary use, used by the people’ (surviving in vulgar tongue).”

        To talk of vulgar language, as you do, is to talk of “the language of the common people” ie, in broad terms, the working class.

        How do you think “vulgar language” became another way of referring to swearing? Who decided that certain words became taboo? It wasn’t the Scottish working class, “the vulgus”, that’s for sure. It was the people at the top of the class system.

        How is it possible that the C word, used by the father of English poetry, Chaucer, quite naturally in the 14th Century became a taboo word? If you traced the way the usage of that word has changed from the 14th century up to today, you would see that it has got everything to do with the emergence of the class system which exists in two spheres above all: property or wealth, and language or diction.

        Language, class, and the Union with England are completely intertwined in Scottish society. You can’t talk about one without talking about the other.

        Somebody like Tom Leonard, who described the Scottish working class as “a colony within a colony” knew that…

        1. Jo says:

          No Redgauntlet, I’m saying something very different from you.
          I’m not offended by the word “prude”. I’m annoyed that you’re using that word towards people who don’t believe it’s progressive” for women politicians to curse and swear in public.
          I’m also alarmed that you stated earlier that working class people will refrain from using bad language in order to be perceived as middle class. That is just nonsense. It’s a huge slur on working class people actually.
          My gran reared eight children, four of them sons. Working class family. Granda was a miner. Let me tell you, had any of these men uttered a swear word in the house, they’d have been wearing a frying pan!
          My dad worked in construction all his life. Again, working class. I never heard him swear once. Not ever. He didn’t aspire to be middle class. He just lived with certain standards. I’m sure he swore now and then but there was probably a time and a place for it. I think that’s reasonable.
          What I just don’t get is the idea that in these modern times it’s somehow liberating to hear women in politics swearing. I’m sorry, I don’t agree. I think it’s possible to connect with people without swearing and I would actually have less respect for any politician who thought it was appropriate to use foul language in the process of doing the job. One can speak powerfully without that and actually send a stronger message. It’s possible to do great damage to an opponent by using a far stronger weapon than profanity. It’s called dignity.

          1. Redgauntlet says:

            Look Jo, so did my gran raise children in one of the poorest neigbourhoods in Glasgow and never swore once, and never would swear if she were still alive.

            She called it “talking common”, like you call it “speaking vulgar”. Stop taking it so personally please.

            I’m not saying all working class people swear, obviously, don’t twist my words it is malicious to suggest I am saying something as daft as that. It was a comparative statement. Is swearing more frequent in Scottish working class communities, or Scottish middle class communities according to you? Or is there no difference?

            In fact, I’m not even talking about swearing as such, I’m talking about some people’s attitudes to other people swearing, which in their own private lives, outwith dealings with the State, is absolutely their right to do so, okay? You might not like it, but they have the right to swear without anybody looking down their nose at them.

            People have got just as much a right to swear talking with their friends say as you have not to swear.

            Who are you, or anybody else, to condemn people for the way they speak? ¨They’re not intelligent, they can’t express themselves, they speak the language of the gutter, it’s dirty, it’s immortal etc.” I know, inside out, the Scottish sanctimonious repertoire poured over anybody who doesn’t speak the way that moral crusaders demand.

            It’s totally out of order. People are written off socially because they swear. It’s way, way way out of any proportion, and it doesn’t happen in other countries. In Spain, for example, swearing nowhere near as big a deal as it is Scotland.

            And as I say, it’s hypocritical: foodbanks? Who gives a fuck! Child poverty? Big fucking deal! But swearing? They ladies of Morningisde would call out the army to put a stop to that… it’s just this horrible snobbery. Britain is built on snobbery.

            And I haven’t defended the American woman in question anywhere on this thread or elsewhere else…

          2. Redgauntlet says:

            Jo, I’ll be brief because I already posted a reply to you and it’s got lost in the Bella Caledonia stratosphere.

            My granny was from one of the poorest neighborhoods of Glasgow. She never swore her whole life either, at least not that I know of. Stop making it personal.

            My perception is that, growing up in Scotland, swearing was more common in working class communities than middle class communities. It’s a comparative statement, not an absolute one Do you agree with that or not? Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there’s no difference. What do other people think?

            The difference between you and me is that I don’t judge people for swearing in their private lives, whatever their social background. They’ve got every right to swear if they want to, provided it’s not to an official of the State, like a policeman or a doctor or a judge or teacher. They might get into trouble for that.

            But if people swear in the pub or at the football or hanging out in the park, for example, young people say, I’m not going to say they are talking “a vile language” like you do. “The language of the gutter” as it is sometimes called. I’m not, like another poster on this page, going to think that it reflects on their intelligence in a negative way. I’m not going to judge them because they swear. People like yourself do. You get sanctimonious about swearing, and you blow it out of proportion. Why? I don’t know. It’s just snobbery I think. The UK class system creates snobbery at every single level of the social ladder.

            And I haven’t defended the American woman in question anywhere on this thread…

          3. Regauntlet says:

            Swearing is not so different to bad table manners, Jo.

            You know, people who slurp their soup or their cereal, and talk with their mouths full?

            You know that way they bunch up food in their mouth at the level of the cheek, like gerbils do, so they can tell you something that could have waited? You can see their tongue, the food in their mouth, it can put you off your food in some cases.

            What can you do? Would I rather they didn’t do it? Yes. But it’s not the end of the world. They’re just people. And people are imperfect.

            In terms of swearing and language, people get locked into linguistic communities. They tend to speak like people around them and if they swear around you, you’ll probably end up swearing too.

            It doesn’t make them bad people, it doesn’t make them stupid, it’s doesn’t make them immoral or wicked or vile, or “from the gutter”. They’re just linguistic registers, you’ve got to look beyond language to the person talking, who is just another human being with the same wants and needs, the same fears and worries and insecurities. By the way, most young men probably swear because they’re insecure…

  10. H Scott says:

    I find this article and some of the comments about it profoundly disturbing. I didn’t realise our civilisational decline had plumbed such depths.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Which “civilization” are you talking about? The civilization which murdered 800,000 people in Iraq a few years ago? That one?

      The real “c” word which gets under my skin is that word, civilization… anybody who enlists that word to their cause is automatically suspect…

      How many barbaric acts has the British Empire carried out in the name of civilization? Thousands. How many deaths? Millions, literally millions… all for “civilization”.

      And what is civilized about food banks and hundreds of thousands of children living in poverty in the 5th biggest economy in the world?

      But because THEY don’t swear, they are civilized, and anybody who isn’t like them, is uncivilized…

      Nobody ever died, or was hurt, or had their life chances affected, by somebody swearing, a completely trivial matter…

      I can’t take the class system in the UK. That’s why I left the country…

      “Civilization” they call it…

      1. H Scott says:

        Western Christian Civilisation. A civilisation rich in cultural and spiritual treasures and whose scientific and techological progress is unparalleled in human history. The one I’m proud to be a member of.

        A civilisation founded on a book that tells us ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and in which every country has a law against murder carrying the greatest punishment in that law, but a civilisation that exists in the same dualistic world of good and evil as the rest of the human race.

    2. Christopher White says:

      I do agree with you. My own comment was about the context of swearing. All of the above, including the article, are supposedly because of free speech. Non of them are particularly clever or skillful.
      Put any of the above people (myself included) into a courtroom or a primary classroom and the language would be severely moderated.
      Not so clever then. If any of them used such profanities freely in a Sherrif court they would probably find themselves being found in contempt.

    3. What seems to be the problem Hamish?

      1. H Scott says:

        Essentially, profanity as virtue Mike.

        1. Jo says:


          The woman featured in this piece is, I believe, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress? I think it’s a shame that she has ruined the significance of that by her decision to label the sitting POTUS a “mother******”. For her achievement wasn’t what made the news, but her deplorable language. What a bad decision to play into the hands of a President who is so anti-Muslim by failing to show some dignity.

  11. Mahmoud El-Yousseph says:

    Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib put Trump in his place when she told a crowd of cheering supporters at a MoveOn reception, ” We’re gonna impeach the motherf*cker.” I would have used a more diplomatic term such as the “Orange Clown” , “Maniac” or “45” instead.

    Now Fox News and right-wing talk shows are having a meltdown over these remarks and are demanding an apology. Meanwhile, Trump’s lackeys did not find it offensive when the president called NFL players “sons of b!tches” for protesting during the National Anthem or when he referred to El Salvador, Haiti, and the African continent as “sh!thole countries.” I say Congresswoman Tlaib owes Trump no apology!

    Congresswoman Tlaib gave Trump some of his own medicine. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Since we live in America and not in a rogue country, it is safe and fair to say that what a man can say and do in America, so can a woman. You glow girl!

  12. Redgauntlet says:

    Swearing is an interesting topic because it is linguistic, and anything linguistic in Scotland is political…

    If you look at the linguistic triangle of diction in Scotland, which mirrors exactly the class system, right at the top are the Scots who speak like the English. Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Tony Blair, Alisdair Darling, people who went to fee paying school as children where they became culturally English to greater or less extent and had any vestige of Scottishness spanked out of them by their school masters.

    By going to these schools, by acquiring that diction, they received a passport into the higher echelons of British society. That is why their parents paid for them to go to school when most of us go to state schools which are free.

    None of these people swear, at least not in public. Given the chief characteristic of the British bourgeoisie is hypocrisy – the Spanish are envious, the French are arrogant, the Italians are jealous, and the British are hypocrites as the saying goes – I would bet money they swear behind closed doors, in private and condemn it in public, because that is the kind of the thing they do.

    Then you move down the triangle, and you get to Scottish middle class diction. A kind of Jackie Bird BBC kind of English. There you might get a wee bit swearing on certain occasions, but never the F word or the C word.

    Those two words are taboo for the Scottish middle class, who are in a constant state of contradiction and tie themselves in endless cultural knots, by trying to be Scottish and different from their English masters, but at the same time, jealously guard their middle class status which means they have to constantly ape RP English at the same time, just not too much. And one of the ways they do that, the chief way they do that in fact, is by looking down their noses at the diction of the next level of the triangle, the Scottish working class…

    The Scottish working class swear a lot more than the Scottish middle class or upper class. It is obviously a vast generalisation to say such a thing, but swearing in my experience is more prevalent among working class people than it is among middle class people, and more common among middle class people than it is among the upper class… which is to say, swearing is all about class, and about people belonging to a social group. It is a kind of marker.

    There is nothing inherently positive or negative about swearing. The nature of the manner in which swearing is perceived is social. It is a social construct which is used primarily to distinguish the rich from the poor in Scotland.

    Chaucer is the father of English literature, and is still taught at Oxford and Cambridge. Well, Chaucer, writing in the 14th century, used the word “cunt” in numerous occasions in The Cantebury Tales…

    And there you have the ridiculousness of the class system and the very, very peculiar way it is used in the UK thanks to RP and the fee paying schools, which amounts to a kind of social apartheid through language. Swearing is an inherent part of that…

    1. Chris Connolly says:

      Very few English people go to fee-paying schools, Red. I agree with any point you wish to make about the way privately-educated people who use Received Pronunciation continue to dominate us but you are way off track if you think such folk represent the English. Among the population of England, depending on where you happen to be you will here Geordies, Tykes, Mancunians, Scousers, Brummies, Cockneys, Yam Yams and all the rest, and all of them will contain just as many rude words in their speech as you will find in most parts of Scotland. Attend a football match anywhere in England and you’ll hear all the swearing you could wish for.

      I disagree with your basic premise, though, which, if I understand you correctly, is that swearing is a vital part of working class culture. That smacks of the same attitude that condemns working class people to rubbish music (pop being for “us”, classical music for “them”.) To keep our minds off revolution the media feds us a constant diet of pap; rubbish TV, celebrity nonsense & endless puerile stuff about telly, footie & Corrie. It’s a time-honoured tactic, as someone with your intelligence and opinions knows all too well.

      My mum is 90 and my dad lived to be 86 and I never heard either of them say “fuck” throughout their long lives. The same applies to my aunties & uncles, and I can assure you I am not from a middle class family. Some people swear a lot; others wouldn’t dream of doing so, and I really don’t believe class has anything to do with it.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        I wouldn’t say swearing is “a vital part of working class culture” or anything like it.

        I would say swearing is more common in working class culture, or at least it is less taboo, especially among men, especially in the pub or at the fitba. I mean, a city like Edinburgh is totally divided on class lines.

        You walk into a pub at the bottom of Leith Walk and you’ll get a working class atmosphere where some people swear literally in every second sentence, and you walk into a pub at the top end of Leith Walk, and it is a middle class atmosphere and they don’t. Obviously there are plenty of working class people who never swear at all, and plenty of middle class people who do all the time, but we’re talking about huge generalities.

        What I can say for sure, 100% sure, is that the Edinburgh middle class react with greater horror to the uttering of the F word or the C word in their presence than they do, say, to the existence of foodbanks or the war in Iraq or homelessness. They get outraged about swearing in a way which is completely disproportionate to its importance. Why?

        I mean the expression “go and wash your mouth out with soap and water” says it all. The idea is that swearing is dirty, and something dirty means poverty and so I think it kind of reveals a social vertigo, the idea that they might lose their middle class status terrifies them. Or maybe they they feel better about themselves because they can look down on someone, and they have spent their whole lives being looked down on by some upper class idiot like Boris Johnson. It’s the kind of hierarchy you get throughout the animal kingdom in mammals. Seriously.

        Swearing in its origins was about taking the Lord’s name in vain. It’s got a religious root to it in its beginnings, but above all, it follows the pattern of the taboo in a tribe. There are certain things you cannot do or say within the tribe, things which are classified as taboo… if you do them, you are expelled from the tribe.

        And there is 10% or 15% of Scottish society who clearly have been expelled from the tribe in the name of the Free Market and Neo- Liberal Capitalism, and that some of these excluded people can be seen walking down the road swearing their heads off is hardly a surprise…

      2. Redgauntlet says:

        PS: You’re right about RP and the regional dialects of English in England of course, I should have made it clearer in my post that I was talking about RP English. But Scotland is not a region, it is a nation in a Union with another nation much more powerful than Scotland is, which treats us like a colony.

        I think that swearing, for a lot of people in the very hierarchical class context of the UK, is the language of revolt, a language of non-conformity, a kind of anti-language which functions as a daily protest against the class system and the way power and wealth is distributed in Britain. I think there is definitely a class element to it. That’s obvious to my eyes…

    2. John O'Dowd says:

      I enjoyed this RG – but you’re wrong about Fox; he was brought up in a council house in East Kilbride, and went to St Bride’s RC secondary. Working class Lanarkshire (and related to a well know Labour dynasty) – so with a totally affected accent.

      He has a medical degree – so uses (and indeed demands to be known by) the courtesy title “Dr” – medicine is a bachelors degree in Scotland – and rUK – ok when in practice, but not applicable to his present occupation.

      Essentially, he’s is a class-traitor whose every affectation is an artifice serving his bourgeoise aspirations.

      You are spot-on however, with the privately and Oxbridge educated Gove. He appeared on telly recently with his Aberdonian (adoptive) father – a comfortably-off lower middle class fish merchant – who in keeping with his origins and occupation speaks in commendably braid Aberdonian Doric.

      Quite a contrast -and in its way hugely hilarious – and deeply diagnostic of Gove’s psychology.

      These nowannabe Scots Yoons are a strange bunch.

  13. Jim Bennett says:

    John Wycliffe’s middle English Bible talked of intestines as “arse-ropes”. Shakespeare (following on from Chaucer) was a regular user of cunt puns. Bollocks (or should we use the old English “ballocks”) has been talked about swear words for as long as we’ve had language skills to be imaginative with.
    Technically, as well as figuratively, Trump is your actual and genuine mother fucker.

  14. Dave says:

    Enjoying this discussion !
    As an aside ; in some circles in the south of Fife the c word has no negative connotation , eg ” see Jimmie Broon – he’s a great cunt ” ,or ” am naebody special – am jist oany cunt “.

  15. Redgauntlet says:

    Thanks John O’Dowd about the clarification about that dangerous headbanger Liam Fox.

    For the sake of clarity, I’m not advocating swearing as such, I’m saying it’s up to adults to make their choices in life, and that would include their choice of language. Clearly there are situations where swearing is inappropriate, like a court of law or a classroom, and there are others where it really doesn’t matter very much at all it seems to me.

    In the case of the American lady who prompted this article, if you are an elected representative in a democracy, it is just not serious to use potentially offensive language. You’re there to represent others, you have to always bear that in mind. So many politicians seem to forget that fact as soon as they win an election.

    As for Chaucer, and again in case I am misunderstood, the point is that he wasn’t actually swearing by using the C word back in the 14th century, it wasn’t an offensive word then. The C word back then would be like “breast” or “bottom” are today, it was just a word to refer to a part of the female anatomy.

    How did the C word become the most offensive word in the English language? The Church probably, an institution which for centuries instructed people to hate their bodies, hate their sexual impulses and denied women even the most basic rights, even to this day in some cases.

    Words are constantly changing their meaning, and it is unelected institutions, like the Church, the BBC and the education system which decide what those changes are, and what words are deemed taboo… it’s not the words themselves,which are just like any other words.

  16. florian albert says:

    Bella Caledonia printed an article which, due to the language it uses, would not be printed by the Herald, Scotsman or Record.
    Its decision has been criticized by some and defended by others, most notably ‘Redgauntlet’. For him, it is mostly an issue of class.

    I am on the side of those who think that printing this particular article was an editorial error. For me and I suspect most Scots, the issue is not class but self-restraint.
    If you look back at the great figures of the Scottish Left, from Keir Hardie to Jimmy Reid, which of them chose to use the language of this article in print ?
    Why did they avoid such language ? Doubtless there were a variety of reasons but an understanding of the need for self-restraint was one of them.
    Self-restraint is necessary to build and sustain a decent society.
    Two questions come to my mind;
    First, does the language used make the argument better than it would have been with different language – such as would have been acceptable in the Herald ?
    My response would be; No.
    Second, if Jimmy Reid can make his case without such language – which would have been part of his everyday experience in the shipyards – can’t Bella Caledonia ?

    1. Regauntlet says:


      I personally am very, very sick of the poor in Scotland being demonised and stimgatised and insulted. They are constantly under attack, for being single mothers, for not getting out of bed in the morning, for not eating the right food and being fat, for smoking , for drinking, for swearing…it is endless…

      It wasn’t like that when I was growing up. Then, the 70’s and even the early 80’s, it was widely accepted that poverty was a bad thing, a misfortune, and had to be lessened and eventually eradicated. We felt sorry for the poor back then, we felt guilty for not being poor ourselves almost.

      Then, with Thatcher and Blair it became acceptable to make as much money as you can and to forget the poor.

      But now, over the last ten years, it’s got much much worse. Now it’s open season on the poor, it’s all right to to despise them and disdain them and call them everything under the sun, it’s all right to hate the poor, 20% of the UK population, including children and single mothers and young men and the disabled and the infirm.

      We are now back in the Victorian aged, when the “poor deserved to be poor” because God has ordained it. It’s just incredible. It’s a cruel and nasty country Britain these days.

      I think Mike Small’s basic argument is right. And I think we need to fight back.

      1. florian albert says:


        You see the Scottish working class as demonized. Having lived and worked just about all my life in working class areas – I am now retired – I disagree. Ignored, yes; taken for granted, yes; patronized, at times.

        Similarly, I do not go along with your view that they are victims of Thatcher and Blair making greed acceptable.

        In the 1980s, Scottish society altered drastically. Industrial Scotland collapsed, it had been creaking for decades. Thatcher takes the blame for the speed of the collapse but there was no long term future for most of the factories/mines as they were in 1979.

        A new society has emerged and there is little place for the old working class, except in minimum wage jobs – of which there are plenty. The ticket to success in the new society is education, particularly Higher education. Here the working class is left behind. Depressingly, the Scottish Left has little or nothing to say about ‘educational apartheid.’ Any ‘fight back’ must start with an honest analysis of where we are and what is wrong. I am profoundly unimpressed by the Scottish Left in this respect – not that the Left is much better anywhere in Europe.
        Most people in Scotland are fairly content with the economic status quo. If anything, they are motivated by fear of losing more of what was attained in the period between 1992 and 2008. That period was a time of real material improvement for most people.
        This is a pessimistic analysis but, also, an objective one.

    2. Redgauntlet says:

      It’s like when I saw Kenny Dalglish, who is a hero of mine and always will be, collect his knighthood or whatever it was the other day.

      And Kenny says, “It’s embarrassing, because the way I was brought up, if you can do somebody a good turn, you do them a good turn”…

      And it just took me back to my childhood and my granny. Where did that ethos go to? Cause that’s the way it was when I was growing up too. Human decency. The common dignity of man. Help people out if you can. You had sympathy for the poor, not contempt and scorn. likewise with thr disabled or single mothers.

      And all those fucking wanker Tory MPs getting their photo taken outside the same foodbanks the need for which they created, them and their wretched, selfish, nasty horrible governments?

      My blood boils…

      1. John O'Dowd says:

        Attaboy Red!

        “And all those fucking wanker Tory MPs getting their photo taken outside the same foodbanks the need for which they created, them and their wretched, selfish, nasty horrible governments?”

        Or as Aneuran Bevan said in 1948 on the establishment of the NHS:

        “That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation. Now the Tories are pouring out money in propaganda of all sorts and are hoping by this organised sustained mass suggestion to eradicate from our minds all memory of what we went through. But, I warn you young men and women, do not listen to what they are saying now”.

        Plus ca fucking change!

        Whatever happened to the Labour party?

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          What happened to the Labour Party you ask? Those Fete fee -paying Edinburgh schoolboys, Blair and Darling, got their clammy, grasping hands on it and then decided to sell the brand to the Footise 100.

          A brand which had taken over 100 years to build, punted in the first four years of Blair’s government and not even to the highest bidder. So what if you sell out? It’s only a political movement which made huge gains for common people over 100 years after all, it doesn’t come with any responsibility leading a party like that…

          I look about me, and most of the things I really value in my life were either won or created by the Working Class. The health service, the universal pension, the right to freedom of speech, the right to freedom of assembly, football, popular music in all its different versions, Billy Connolly and Kevin Bridges, William Shakepeare and Robert Burns, Kenny Dalglish and Hibernian FC, the free press and the Rights of Man… planes, trains, ships, bridges…

          Stop and look around you. Everything around you was built by the Working Class, and yet, if you listen to our political leaders, the Tories, you would think that they were the ones who campaigned for universal suffrage, universal pension, the NHS, or equality for women and decolonization.

          They weren’t. They opposed all of those things for centuries, fought tooth and nail against them with all the power of the State.

          The Left has lost a lot of ground over the last 40 years, we have not argued their case well. The first thing the Left has to, do, in Scotland and elsewhere, is to clearly articulate the legacy of the Left, the achievements of the wider Labour movement and progressive politics in general over the 20th century. and its real tangible gains

          The Tories claiming to be the standard-bearers of democracy is an absolute joke. They were always the enemies of democracy and progress, and they still are…

  17. SleepingDog says:

    Isn’t the breaking of taboo rather the use of disrespect towards authority/prestige symbols/figures than the swearing itself?

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.