Friday, December 19, 2014

Asshats and Liabilities

Every so often a word comes into popular usage that is just so appealing in its ability to describe or the sound it makes when it rolls off the tongue or even the way it flows through one's fingers and onto page or keyboard, it becomes a new favorite.

This is true of the word asshat.

I confess that, as much as I believe in the free use of language as art, I would never want to censor the use of profanity or obscenity, as I believe that the judicious sprinkling of a few, well-chosen swear words over the vast surface area of one's body of verbal work can add interest, emphasis, and even style, upon occasion.

Think about it.  Depending on who a person is and her/his position, the well-chosen expletive can serve a beneficial conversational purpose.  Take David Letterman's occasional "Damn" or "for God's sake".  It punctuates and draws attention in the same way that a pinch of cayenne pepper makes a difference in a vegetable dish.  When we say "Amanda Fucking Palmer" we mean that Amanda Palmer is a seriously iconic performer and musician.

Yet, profanity and obscenity are often overdone and coarsened. When every other adjective is a four-letter word (I can think of many that exceed four letters, but you get the idea) the ability to season the conversation is lost.  The objectionable no longer shocks or exclaims.  It blends in and is lost; moreover the user loses credibility since the ability to use vocabulary is one of the measures by which we tend to pay attention to a speaker.  If language is saturated with profanity, meaning is diluted.

We suffer as the speaker loses credibility.

I do not employ profanity lightly nor do I enjoy the use of profanity as the major component of others' vocabulary.  I like my swearing concise and relevant.

Hence my attachment to asshat, implying, as it does, that someone's chapeau might be more suited to his derriere than to his head.  It's more humorous than its more insulting parent noun, and begs the hearer to snicker knowingly.

It also sounds intriguingly similar to ASSETS, which we all know are things of value.  They're the opposite of liabilities, which are debts we owe.

I seriously hope that going into the new year that you have more assets than liabilities and that you can tell your assets from the asshats.  Keep those who are definite assets close to your heart, and cast the asshats as far from you as you can.  Peace and prosperity to you and yours!

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