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March 27, 2007


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Adam Kotsko

In one of my "guest lectures" in the course I was TAing last semester, I called St. Jerome "one of the great assholes in the history of Christian thought." I heard about it in the evaltuations. It fucking pissed me off!


Yeah, when I was a junior faculty member I once told a group of students to stop jerking off in class. One asshole wrote on the evaluation:

"professor should not tell students not to jerk off in class. it hinders the learning process."

over-programmed infantile little fuck.


great post! absolutely hillarious! I love how you end in a rant..

I said "damn" today in class and immediately a group of students' heads snapped out of their stupor. It was the only indication all class that they were actually awake and listening...

J. Maggio

Brilliant. David Mamet would be proud. :-)


Anthony Paul Smith

Jesus Fucking Christ!

At DePaul people swore all the god damn time and it was never an issue. Everyone - to the big cities! Actually, that doesn't quite work out since Adam was teaching in that very big city.


APS--you have the keen ability to zero in on the 'line' for me. It must be my Southern Baptist upbringing, or perhaps, I hope, the persistence of a residual faith. At any rate, your choice and well-placed expletive is one of the few expressions I can't or won't use.

Anthony Paul Smith

The notion that a being infinite in qualities and substance would be offended by the word 'fuck' is a bit silly though, no? The idea that a non-existent being would be offended even more so!

I was going to ask about this, because I watched an explosive fight between the director of I Heart Huckabees and Lily Tomlin where he called her a 'bitch cunt' and she called him a 'fucking moron', but where is the line for you? Obviously there is a certain amount of modicum you expect in your classroom, a certain limit to the adult expression and intensity the university will allow. This is interesting, no?


Good debate about this me and APS had in meatspace with a load of fairly orthodox theologians. Basically, swearing was said to be merely another word among others to express something universal, albeit a word certain classes define themselves by using or not using, and was not 'wrong' or worse blashemy. In fact, the most pious person on our course (RC) swears the most. That said, one of our lecturers, not normally known for pulling punches, refused to use Zizek's Lutherian concept of Divine Shit in front of a Dominican friar who was giving a paper. This was a bit odd, because like in that-book-on-Nietzsche-and-kitsch-I-cant-remember-the-name-of it is a technical term of sorts.

And with that:
Fuck fuck fuck-face.


APS--Of course you are right about an infinite being--it seems rather un-infinite to get divine panties in a wad over an expletive--but what about that commandment and the Lord's name in vain? (When I was a kid, other kids would emphasize some scripture or another--in Deuteronomy?--that called people who committed some sin or another a "menace to hell"--this seems particularly scary (and puts Denis the Menace in a rather ominous light).

I think the line question is fascinating, particularly because we sometimes use profanity deliberately to cross lines, so when people say, "hey, you crossed a line!" we should say, "thank you for recognizing this! this is precisely what I intended!"

So, if a guy calls me a cunt in anger (I've never heard a woman call another woman this, but I'm sure it happens) I am pretty outraged and offended and think of this as major, major escalation, a step beyond saying 'fuck you'--which is bad, and a sign that a fight has escalated, but not beyond the pale requiring major mending work.

Maybe part of the issue is how profanity is used. Saying "you little fuckers' in the classroom is an escalation, a transgression, but saying, 'goddamit I left my fucking gradebook in the office' shouldn't raise an eyebrow, or even wake anybody up.


Its a bit like that episode of Curb You Enthusiasm where everyone gets pissing when Larry uses cunt at a pokergame. In our house, cunt used to be fairly freely used by both males and females to describe people and situations that perhaps did not warrant that level of abuse, though this appears to have died down a little. Is the vicious use of the word prick on the same level as cunt?

I always took the Lords name in vain thing to be about swearing a bit, but more about the taking of oaths in Gods name, particularly when doing it falsely. Let your yes be yes and your no be no and all that jazz.

I don't think I have ever heard a lecturer swear at undergraduate level. However, when I entered postgraduate study, I was let into the magical world of lecturers occasionally swearing - I don't think I have heard anything stronger than shit and the occasional fuck mind you.


Alex--my brother went to Union Theological Seminar in NYC. They have an annual blasphemy night. Although some use this for lame 'a priest, a rabbi, and a gorilla walk into a bar' jokes, my brother wanted to see if blasphemy were possible under contempoary conditions. So he sang Jesus loves me while feigning masturbation. Some were offended and walked out.


Within the course of this evening two of my female housemates have used the word cunt, one stating her preference for the phrase "cunting x" when I enquired as a result of this post.


about the Lord's name in vain, i had always heard the same as Alex: "about the taking of oaths in Gods name, particularly when doing it falsely. Let your yes be yes and your no be no and all that jazz." -- count the cost before buliding the house, etc


So, the issue is less profanity than promising? Almost like one shouldn't treat God as one's backer, muscle, enforcer, or guarantor? That's much more persuasive.

So, does "cunting x" function the same way as "fucking" as in "fuck, I have to get all the shit together for my fucking taxes"? Could I switch out fucking for cunting in this sentence?


I read an article one time somewhere about the origin of swear words, and that the difference between the "polite" words and the "bad" words was origin -- vagina and penis and sexual intercourse all derive from Latin, that is, from "classy" roots, whereas cunt, cock and fuck come from Anglo-Saxon.

I grew up without any swearing at all -- not even so much as a "damn it" at home, and it was pretty big deal at school, too. Then I went to a pretty Bible-thumping college, where people were very self-righteous in their non-swearing. I remember vividly how liberating it was when I started letting myself use the word "asshole." It was all fucking downhill from there.


This is a good blog post. Because I have to kind of check over my shoulder when I am posting onto it in the university computer room and liberally sprinkling my post with fucks and cunts.

If I have a spare moment, I'll look up a big biblical commentary and check to see if I am right totally. But the Catholic Cathecism saith (as well as the stuff about not blasheming the lords name) "Promises made to others in God's name engage the divine honor, fidelity, truthfulness, and authority. They must be respected in justice. To be unfaithful to them is to misuse God's name and in some way to make God out to be a liar." So yes and after all thats the bigger issue, as you say. And Jesus radicalises it with the yes be yes etc.

Jodi, I think you could switch in a cunting, but I think it is generally only utilised in situations of extreme stress, of which not doing ones taxes might be one of them.

My parents get so so mad when I use any swear word at home, it really isn't pretty. It doesn't matter about the extreme nature of the situation at hand, what matters is I said fuck.


Oh and http://www.va/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a2.htm

Lots of stuff here about perjury, taking false oaths etc etc.

"Do not swear whether by the Creator, or any creature, except truthfully, of necessity, and with reverence"


alex, "one of our lecturers, not normally known for pulling punches," = cc?

btw, unbearable lightness of being


If by cc you mean Conor Cunningham, yes.

Incidently, it is in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but the book I was actually refering to, which takes its cue from unbearable... was Redeeming Nietzsche: On the Piety of Unbelief by Giles Fraser. Towards the end he used the concept of divine shit and kitch to critique Nietzsche in a not too convincing manner - good book otherwise though. He, being a vicar, apoligises for it.

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