The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The F-Bomb Vermin of the Apocalypse

The  third in my series of posts in which I give rants against trends that have developed in society since the days of my youth, the halcyon days of the seventies, when leisure suits and disco were sure signs that society was ready to be engulfed in a tide of ignorance, bad taste and general buffoonery.

We have started off the series with a look at seven developments that I view as intensely annoying and proof that many people lack the sense that God granted a goose.  I like to refer to these as  The Seven Hamsters of the Apocalypse, minor evils that collectively illustrate a society that has entered a slough of extreme stupidity.  Each of the Seven Hamsters will have a separate post.  We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin and here the Pierced Vermin.  The third of the Hamsters is the F-Bomb Vermin.

I first encountered the F-bomb in, I suppose, a traditional manner.  My mother,  I and my brother were outside walking.  (For younger readers this was a form of locomotion that people engaged in before automobiles became a common feature of every family.)  I was about 5 and quite proud of my ability to read.  I noticed a word inscribed upon the sidewalk in chalk by some feckless urchin.  I began to spell it, F-U-, and then my mother stopped me.  She said it was a dirty word and I was not to use it.  I normally found that my mother gave sage counsel, and when I failed to follow it dire consequences would usually follow, in addition to a slap from her maternal hand, and I have followed her injunction from that day to this.

Swearing in public was almost unknown when I was a lad in the early Sixties.  Oh there were places where swearing was ubiquitous, most notably the military, but outside of those type of all male venues,  swearing in public was severely frowned upon.   All male groups would tend to have some fairly unimaginative low level swearing, but in those gentlemanly chauvinist times, almost no men would think of swearing in front of females, and if a lady happened to hear a cuss word emitted from the more foul mouthed of the sexes, his apologies would normally be profuse. 

In private some amusement could be taken from vulgarities.  Family gatherings at the McClarey household were enlivened by my younger brother’s innocent inability to pronounce the name of a popular ice cream topping, Smuckers, correctly, and my parents in anger could let slip a few choice words, but swearing in my household was a rare event.  My Dad, a man of few words, thought swearing was “stupid” and my mother, who shared all the eloquence of her 100% Irish blood,  regarded it as “boring , unimaginative, a sign of weak character, and a colossal waste of time.”

To show how relatively innocent those times were, most people were genuinely shocked by all the “expletives deleted” on the Nixon tapes.  I assume that Nixon learned to swear like a sailor when he was a sailor during WWII, but even ex-military men were shocked at his vulgarity.  Ironically, it was Nixon’s adversaries among the younger generation in the late Sixties who were probably least shocked by his use of gutter language.  In a bid for “honesty, openness and relevance” along with other buzzwords from the Sixties, that most deeply dishonest of decades, trust fund guys and gals at colleges began to swear like longshoremen, (actually far worse than longshoremen if my maternal grandfather was any indication) and dress in early Goodwill.  I assume this was an attempt to gain proletarian street cred by people, most of whom would have died before working in the plants where my father and mother earned our daily bread.  Public swearing by the fairer sex was especially disheartening for members of the older generation who had recklessly assumed that women were more civilized than men on average.  This trend was assisted by often fairly talentless members of the entertainment industry who found they could achieve notoriety by the use of frequent swearing.  Lenny Bruce, heroin addict, was the advance guard in this trend.  Bruce had talent to go with a foul mouth and a fouler mind, but most of his imitators lacked that saving grace.

Now we live in a world where swearing is ubiquitous with constant use of the F-Bomb as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb.  Some people seem unable to express themselves without use of the word.  Former Governor of Illinois and convicted felon, those two accomplishments do tend to go together, Blagojevich is a prime example of how the F-Bomb is used as filler in sentences today.

Swearing has no doubt been with us from the time shortly after the expulsion from Eden when Adam first stubbed his toe.  This is certainly not a new evil in society.  The English soldiers in the time of Saint Joan of Arc were designated by their frequent request of God to consign to the nether regions most things they encountered.  (In defense of the English, they were, after all, in France at the time.)  However swearing today is universal and unending and deeply unimaginative with the F-Bomb losing the chief utility of swearing:  to serve as emotional release and to shock.  Compare and contrast someone using the F-Bomb repeatedly with this classic piece of billingsgate from Shakespeare: ” The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!  Where got’st thou that goose look?”  If one must swear, be imaginative and creative about it!  Today the only purpose served by the F-Bomb is as an idiot detector.  Its constant refrain in public makes our daily lives just a bit crasser and helps create that atmosphere of cretinous vulgarity which is the hallmark of the time in which we live.  I trust that in the next world, either as eternal punishment or lengthy penance, unimaginative swearers will stand nose to nose with drill sergeants who can explore with them just how effective loud and imaginative cussing can be!  (Content advisory for the following video, unnecessary for anyone who has been in the military and has had experience with real drill sergeants.)

However, perhaps I am being too harsh.  After all, it is only crass language.  It isn’t as if they were engaging in an activity that threatened physical harm.  That brings us to the Fourth Hamster of the Apocalypse, the Texting Vermin.  However, I must now go and watch a Lawrence Welk Retrospective while merrily imbibing a good vintage of prune juice.  Until next time.



(Hattip to my daughter, or, as we refer to her, THE COMPUTER NERDESS IN CHIEF, who not only trapped the elusive F-Bomb Vermin for the above photo, but also engaged in photoshopping, a skill which eludes her luddite father.)

27 Responses to The Modern World is Going to Hell: A Continuing Series: The F-Bomb Vermin of the Apocalypse

  1. Mack says:

    And now there is the almost universal employment of “d****e-bag” on ‘blogs, even on purportedly Catholic ones.

  2. Stan says:

    When I hear the F-bomb burst from the lips of a beautiful young lady I only see black stains on her soul. From a young man I see dark times in his life.

  3. Pinky says:

    I don’t think this should be listed among the minor vermin. It debases us more than we realize.

  4. Donald R. McClarey says:

    I’d agree with you Pinky except that most of the people who engage in frequent swearing truly are clueless as to its harmfulness. I regard this as a sign of debasement in modern life and not a cause of the underlying debasement.

  5. Pinky & Don.

    It’s cyclical. The F bomb has become so commonplace b/c the sexual act to which it refers has become vulgar rather than sacred, yet the use of the F bomb to refer to that act further trivializes and moves our understand of the sexual act farther from its sacred nature.

  6. mundabor says:

    I think the biggest problem you have is that people using such words are considered “cool”. Therefore, cinema and singers use such words, which reinforces the trend.

    You’d be surprised at how little Germans swear compared to Anglo-Saxons. Not because they don’t know how to do it, but because there is a social sanction associalted with that in most situations.

    I think another reason is the way people DRESS. You’ll find it stupid but I think that a lot people tend to speak better when they are better dressed. To be dressed properly often gives them a sense of their own dignity, and they tend to want to live up to that. People going around in shorts and flip flops as if they were in their own garten will tend not to pay any attention to social conventions in other areas as well. The age of ubiquitous jeans, unkempt hair and the like was also the age where swearing became common usage.


  7. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “The age of ubiquitous jeans, unkempt hair and the like was also the age where swearing became common usage.”
    The slobbification of America.

  8. PM says:

    On Joan of Arc: A common French term of endearment for English soldiers in her day was “les goddams,” for their frequent–ubiquitous–use of that term.

    My father was a career soldier with extensive combat experience in World War II, and he was more than liberal in the use of that phrase (but it was not tolerated among us children: apparently like smoking and drinking, for adults only, and then only for men). I never heard him use the f-word. He would not have used it around women or children, and I doubt he used it among his cronies. I don’t think many educated people of his generation would have (and that is why the Nixon tapes were so shocking).

    Coarse language by beautiful young ladies is depressing and off-putting, but may not indicate stains on their soul. Custom is very powerful, and the customs of recent times have not been helpful in reinforcing our innate sense of propriety.

  9. Foxfier says:

    Could you rephrase that to be clearer? The it reads right now seems to say that a cursing woman is sinful, and a cursing man is sinned against…. It could also be read as a lovely poetic way of saying “they have been hurt, stained, torn, battered, afflicted by a life that has not done them as it should.” (Yay, English; so many shades of meaning.)

    Can’t argue against this stance; I would suggest that a large part of why cursing is more common is because folks are ruder, making for more heartache and pain on emotional/mental levels, and there are fewer ways to defuse it. (This is also my theory behind “road rage.”)

  10. Stan says:

    Thank you Foxfier, I was trying to be brief.

    First off, male or female the use of this word does show a lack of respect for others and very much a lack of a Christian attitude. The F-bomb is neither loving nor kind. That is where an otherwise lovely looking young lady becomes stained to me. I would not have dated such when younger or appreciate my son from dating one with such language now.

    As far as a dark future for the men, most of them that I have meet who use this language in public are already racking up arrests, convictions and jail time.

    Have I ever used language like this, well maybe. When my head was almost taken off by a sheet of plywood dropped from the roof, or my 700 pound motorcycle was laying on me supported only by a folded up foot, even then it was said in a whispering scream. But never in conversation private or public since I found Christ.

  11. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “When my head was almost taken off by a sheet of plywood dropped from the roof, or my 700 pound motorcycle was laying on me supported only by a folded up foot, even then it was said in a whispering scream”

    Stan, I sympathize. During my first kidney stone a few years ago, if I had the presence of mind, I might have let lose with a few choice epithets. As it was, I writhed on the floor and whimpered with the pain, when I wasn’t making my painfully slow way to the bathroom to vomit up the shrimp gumbo that I had just before the kidney stone decided to makes its agonizing presence felt. I think God makes allowances for the weakness of the flesh at such times. 🙂

  12. Don the Kiwi says:

    The F-bomb has been a pretty common expletive down here for as long as I can remember. I must agree though, that in the late 50’s when I was a teenager, and lad-about-town in that great decade, the 60’s, mainly used only by men including myself too lazy to select a more appropriate adjective, or as an encouragement for someone to leave your presence hurriedly. 😉
    In those days it was unusual to hear it coming from a woman. Nowadays it is commonplace. Then, one did not use that language in front of a woman – nowadays, it is a part of everyday casual conversation.
    I call it “building site language” (being a builder) where I still sometimes resort to the expletive, but that is usually where it stays.
    I do think that as with many things in society, it has been used so much that society in general has become desensitised to the shock effect, so it has become part of everyday language.

  13. Don the Kiwi says:

    My other excuse is that I spent 11 years of my life in Australia. 🙂

  14. Don the Kiwi says:

    I actually blame the Dutch for this blight on the English language 😉
    The Dutch and the English have always had a close relationship – why even a dutchman, William of Orange was king of England in the 17th century.
    As you may guess, this is a lead in to a rather humorous anecdote.
    In 1990 after I returned from Australia, I was doing a job with my wife’s cousin for a dutchman, Jack van Dungen (I think was his name) who had emigrated to NZ in the 1950’s. He had a brother, Joss who still lived in Holland, but visited every few years. Now Jack, who lived on a farm had built a pig pen and was starting to breed his own pigs. In Dutch, the word for a breeder is a – yes, you guessed it, – a “f**ker”.
    Joss had arrived from Holland late the previous night, and as we were all sitting down to morning tea, Joss who had just risen shortly before,came out from his room, greeted us, and looked out the window and saw the pig pen. Joss did not speak English too well, so he combined Dutch words with his English words. He said, ” Ah Yack, (dutch pronounce “J” as “Y”) I see you have become a pig f****er.”
    You can imagine our huge mirth – poor Joss did not really understand what the hilarity was about until Jack explained it to him.
    Over the past hundred and fifty years, we have had a lot of Dutch migration to NZ. After all, the country’s first european discoverer was a dutchman, Abel Tasman. So the dutch word “to breed” became a common word in the local English language.

    Well, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

  15. Donald R. McClarey says:

    I am always willing Don to blame as many ills of the world as I can on the Dutch. 🙂

  16. Afghani"Stan" says:

    While talking to a Catholic Chaplain who traveled to all of the FOBs in the South, he lamented to me that many of the soldiers have lost the ability to use adjectives and adverbs thanks to the F-bomb.

    What have we become?

  17. cminor says:

    Don the Kiwi,
    I’m visualizing the scene as featuring copious amounts of expectorated tea! Translation fiascoes always tickle me!

  18. Suz says:

    My dog, who, if possible, gets out even less than I do, appeared quite shocked by the cheerfully crass language flying between two college-aged canoeists passing close to the dock recently; he was too occupied with cocking his head back and forth, listening in astonishment, even to bark. I assume it was the tone and volume of the banter rather than the words, but it looked funny nonetheless.
    The kids (male and female; one shies away from “gentleman” and “lady” in such a situation) were entirely jolly in their loud, brash, crude, and very public discourtesy.
    Since I err in curbing my own tongue when injured or infuriated, but not so much when blithesome, or out canoeing, I was unsure whether to be offended, disapproving, or amused.
    An angry outburst may be far more unpleasant to hear, but casual cursing like this is actually harder to sympathize with, due to its utter meaninglessness.

  19. GodsGadfly says:

    Everything I’ve ever studied on demonology and deliverance confirms that the use of curse words–which really do curse the person, place or thing–is almost always the way that demonic infestations begin.

    Fr. Amorth said he dealt with a whole family–two boys were outright possessed, and all the family were experiencing some level of extraordinary demonic influence/attack–and the root cause was the grandfather. In his senility, he hardly ever said anything but “G– D—” because that’s the habit he built up in his life.

  20. Pinky says:

    I don’t think the particular words matter. In England, f— is a casual word, but c— is the Most Profane Word (not that c— is trivial in the US). As common as f— has become in the US, it’s still our Most Profane Word. We may be seeing a transition toward it being a weak word, but for the time being, people use it frequently *because* they can’t think of a worse word.

    That’s the distinction I’m trying to make: it’s not that people who use it are immune to the power of the word; they’re unfamiliar with the idea of propriety.

  21. lisag says:

    I too watch reruns of the Welk show on TV. Another show that brings up wishes of long ago days are the Andy William Christmas shows. Innocence, family and faith joined in music and fun. The first time I used the f bomb my year older sister laughed at me. It was so ridiculous coming out of my 13 year old mouth. That cured me for a long, long time. The people who talk that way are clowns.

  22. Don the Kiwi says:

    The fifth comment, made by Michael Denton has stuck in my mind.
    The F- word is of course, just a word, with a certain meaning……or is it?
    If we use the word “copulation” it has a certain context in biology, but with essentially the same meaning. Likewise, the word “fornication” which used to be often heard from the pulpit as a serious sin, but sadly nowadays is not – but we still read it in the scriptures.
    “Sexual intercourse” again, conveys the same meaning, but in the context of medical or educational areas.
    In all these situations, if the F- word simply had the same meaning, would it be acceptable as a substitute? Is it only because the word is socially unacceptable that it is not substituted? Definitely not.
    This is how I used to rationalise my occasional – in my younger day, casual – use of the word.

    I agree with you Michael. The commonplace use of the word has debased the act to which it refers, which should be held as sacred. So I want to thank you, and you too Don, for reminding me, and I’m sure some others, how the use of a word, irrespective of its innocent beginning, can be desensitising and trivialising and contribute to the debasement of our language, culture, and souls.

  23. “The fifth comment, made by Michael Denton has stuck in my mind.”

    Likewise — good observation.

  24. Matt says:

    I have felt this way for years…! even as a college pagan back in the ’80s. Though there were things I (unfortunately) said or did, I felt there were zones of propriety. I never discussed certain things in front of women or children, for ex. Now that I’m an ex-pagan I only feel more strongly. I am unhappy that profanity and vulgarity worked its way into literature in the mid-20th c. and later into movies and finally TV. The fact that we had masterpieces of literature and drama for centuries without it shows just unecessary it is. Bad language/behavior was always there, but on the fringes. It was kept at bay.

  25. Elaine Krewer says:

    When JFK was elected president one of his aides reportedly said, “this administration will do for sex what the last one (Ike’s) did for golf.”

    Had Blago ever realized his ambition of becoming president (shudder), his administration probably would have done the same thing for the F-bomb.

  26. […] post.  We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin,  here the Pierced Vermin and here the F-Bomb Vermin.  The fourth of the Hamsters is the Texting […]

  27. […] separate post.  We have already discussed here the Tattooed Vermin,  here the Pierced Vermin , here the F-Bomb Vermin and here the Texting Vermin.  The fifth of the Hamsters is the Trashy […]

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