The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

Profanty should be socially acceptable

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/16/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,736 times Debate No: 19324
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




This debate is designed to take a look at our standard "cuss words", and whether or not they should be deemed acceptable for use in a common social/public settings, ie. public schools, courts, daytime television, radio, etc.

1st round acceptance please


Debate Round No. 1


First of all, I would like to thank you OMGJutinBieber for accepting this debate.

Just for a little bakground info, the idea for this debate was sparked by a series of recent observations that I have made suggesting that we, as a society or a culture, have lost touch (at least somewhat so) with the meaning of words and phrases.
It seems to me that when classifying dialouge, text, or any other verbal communication, as suitable for a social setting, the message that we send isn't nearly as important as words that we are using to send the message.

One can find numerous examples of this just by simply listening to the radio. Song lyrics can be centered around horrible topics, using graphic language to describe very unsavory and otherwise socially unacceptable actions/scenarios, whilst simple "curse/cuss" words are bleeped out or edited out of the song. This is just one example out of many.

I disagree with this line of thinking totally.

Now to the defined purpose of this debate : "to take a look at our standard "cuss words", and whether or not they should be deemed acceptable for use in a common social/public settings, ie. public schools, courts, daytime television, radio, etc."

I would like to make the argument that there is nothing wrong (socially that is, not speaking to personal morals) with using profanity in and of itself.

As I can see, the main use of profain words is to add extra emphasis to a statement, and there is nothing inherently wrong with strong or extreme emphasis.

Prohibited speech/text should be prohibited on the basis of what they mean and the message that they send.

Whats so much worse about saying:
that "two people have fucked" vs "two people have fornicated" or "had sexual relations" ?
that "his house looks shitty" vs "his house looks crappy" or "junky" ?

Obviusly these profain words are used to send messages that should be deemed innapropriate, but almost all other words could be used in the same fashion.



I would like to welcome Pro to DDO as this appear to be his first debate.

Pro argues that there is nothing inherently wrong with using profanity, and I would agree with this claim. However, the issue is not whether profanity is wrong or right but rather whether it should be proper. Pro seems to want to make the argument that profanity should always be proper regardless of circumstances.

Clearly profanity already is considered proper in many social settings, so what I will do is defend the improperness of the use of profanity in settings where it is broadly considered improper. I believe as long as I defend the improperness of cuss words in at least one social setting my burden of proof is met. Lets consider a few points:

1. Cuss words are colloquial.

Colloquial words go well with colloquial settings - bars, being with friends, etc. However, when we try to take the colloquial qualities of these words into situations such as weddings and funerals which are considered socially important occasions the use of colloquial or improper anything is strongly discouraged. Again, don't confuse this with "wrongness" but it would be a widespread sign of disrespect and uncaring to use profanity in a wedding or a funeral speech. Both of these occasions are momentous social events centered around individuals reaching a milestone in their lives, and inappropriate behavior from even one guest can damage the day.

2. Improper around children.

If the child is young they're going to repeat what they hear. The repeated use of profanity is going to manifest itself in the child and could lead him or leave to use the words in school. This could lead the child to get into trouble when it was no fault of his own, and it simply reflects poorly on the family.

3. The deeper meaning of cuss words.

It was mentioned earlier that cuss words were colloquial, but in addition to that they are also considered base. There are situations where this laid-back attitude can be considered positive, but the effect of using those words essentially debases the social situation. Look at the meanings of these words - many of them refer to fecal matter and other bodily fluids. Why should it be considered proper for someone to mention these at the dinner table? It makes perfect sense that terms that crassly refer to bodily fluids should have limited social application.

4. The importance of the crowd.

This point actually extends outside cuss words. Just as it would be improper for a liberal to break into a CPAC meeting and start yelling anti-Republican slogans, around individuals who clearly not interested in hearing these words and explicit use of them is questionable. Cuss words are one taboo out of money - politics, religion, and income are other examples. These are topics which are simply improper, and knowledge of the crowd becomes central here. In the case of cuss words, other terms can easily be used and the use of them appears to be a deliberate effort to offend or provoke.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to Con for a well organized rebuttal. I do however have some issues with it.

It seems to me that you are trying to prove that there are some social setting where profanity IS unacceptable....and i have no issue with that. My point of view is that these words SHOULDN'T be viewed that way. I
I see this especially in points 1,2 and 4. For example when you talk about kids using these words in school, I question whether or not that should be actually a big deal, not whether or not it is.

I would like to point out that we have come up with a close sounding substitute for almost every cuss word . Frick, shoot, darn, heck, etc. These words would be acceptable in the setting that you mentioned such as kids in school. This just goes to show that we don't really value the message being sent as much as the words chosen to convey said message.

For the next round, let's focus on debating they issue of should rather than is


The baseness and colloquial qualities of cuss words are points you just haven't responded to. I'm aware this is a "should" debate rather than an "is" one, and my points remain unaddressed. Even by your own admission point 3 remains unaddressed. You've just basically asserted that there's nothing inherently wrong with cuss words, but I've shown examples in social settings where it is very apparent that these words are improper and should not be used for that reason that they are often provocative and out of place at a social function.

Frick, shoot, and darn are not cuss words. You can't shift the goalposts like that. There's also a distinction between something being wrong and socially unacceptable. Regardless, facts and value judgments are not completely separate. If a word has a widespread potential to offend - as cuss words do - why would you ever use them in formal settings such as weddings and funerals? It's both improper and immoral to deliberately use language which is likely to offend a grieving spouse or the family of the bride or groom. In utilitarian terms, you would be conducting yourself in a way that is "negative utility" in basically choosing words with the large potential to offend an audience without conveying any strong message. The focus is clearly on the harm you are doing by deliberately choosing words that are likely to offend in situations where it is completely uncalled for.
Debate Round No. 3


TheBammBoozlerr forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct will go to Con for Pro's unsatisfying forfeit in the last round. However, arguments still go to Pro because as Pro pointed out, the entirety of Con's case was that there are certain situations where profanity is unacceptable, not that it should be unacceptable.