To hell with false dichotomies
PR flack James V. O'Connor wants people to stop swearing (via memepool).What bothers me is that he distinguishes between casual and causal swearing and then doesn't use his own distinction. Causal, of course, being swearing when have a reason, as when you're mad or have hurt yourself. O'Connor makes no allowances for swearing with a purpose, instead preaching a saccharine power-of-positive-thinking outlook of avoiding all swearing.
I avoid casual swearing on Zen Haiku as a conscious stylistic decision. But it's like cutting verbiage like "really" or "I think" (what else is a web log?).
Nor does swearing reflect a limited vocabulary. This false dichotomy implies you either have a big vocabulary and don't swear, or you swear and have a limited vocabulary, which, like many black-or-white dichotomies is simply not true.
A friend with a large vocabulary and a trenchant wit swears whenever she feels like it—which isn't often, but is just as trenchant as when she doesn't swear. A more accurate statement would be: people with limited vocabularies reuse more words in general, including (relatively) innocuous ones such as "like" or "you know".
Swearing is not inherently hostile either. Some of the most hostile situations (a tax audit, a day in court) typically involve no swearing, and hanging out with good friends, one of life's true pleasures, can involve lots of swearing.
Of course swearing isn't always appropriate, but I'd rather hear four letter words at a hardware store than details of a medical procedure or someone screaming into a cell phone (often without swearing, because that would annoy people.)