Fussin’ about cussin’

Earlier this month, a hard-fought campaign by a Los Angeles high school student was recognised by the county school board, and the first school week in March was declared ‘No Cussing Week‘.

McKay Hatch, 14, launched the ‘No Cussing Club’ two years ago, and it now has its own website, which has the tagline Ya Wanna Hang with Us? Don’t Cuss! (capitalisation included), over 20,000 members worldwide, and eye-catchingly-orange club t-shirts. You can even buy the story on DVD, or read the book by Hatch, the self-branded ‘most cyberbullied kid in the world’.

Cussing, an American variation of the word cursing, includes all kinds of foul or offensive language, and is widespread in the USA, as it is in many places.  Often one of the first things someone learns in a new language is how to say something offensive!  [See my note about Cao Ni Ma, the grass-mud horse, if you want to approximate some Chinese swearing.]  The No Cussing Club aims to make people feel better about themselves and be more positive by taking the negative influence of swearing out of their lives.  It’s also teaching kids to stand up to peer pressure, which can’t be a bad thing.

Personally, although I think what these kids (and adults) are trying to do is admirable in many ways, I don’t agree with cutting out swearing altogether.  I think it has its place in language and communication, just that that place isn’t everywhere and anytime.  I don’t think that ‘cussing’ belongs in the classroom, especially not in primary or middle schools, or in many professional settings.  If this campaign helps people realise that maybe swearing isn’t for everyone and everywhere, though, it’s doing its bit to educate people about appropriateness of speech.  Here’s hoping!