By: Peter Sessum
Actor/rapper Will Smith does not swear in his music, but he does in his movies. He wanted to show that someone could rap without using profanity. It made his music open to a wider audience since kids could buy it. But he does swear in his movies. In an interview he said that there are ideas that cannot be expressed better than using the f-bomb. Military people swear and have inappropriate humor for a few different reasons. As a coping mechanism, to vent and like Smith said, there are times when a cuss word gets a point across like no other.
Of course this is not limited to military members. People with extreme jobs in both the military and civilian world share some attributes and attitudes. An FDNY captain once told me about an industrial accident where a person had his arm severed at the wrist. He told his crew, “We are going to have to give this guy a hand.” Funny, yes, inappropriate, without a doubt.
Military, cops, doctors, firefighters and even journalists need to have some mechanism to cope. Yes, I said journalists. A reporter may cover a tragic story. He or she will be interviewing someone on the worst day of their life. Tomorrow, that reporter will be covering pandas at the zoo. Once a story ends, reporters have to move on to the next story.
Once, in a professional newsroom I heard a reporter make an inappropriate comment. Taken out of context, it was pretty racist. Knowing the environment, I didn’t flinch. He was joking with his peers in a safe area. I was the only outsider. That is how the military works too. You know your mates well enough to know when they are joking. Had he meant what he said those people would have chastised him, but as a joke, it was laughed at. Despite our PC culture, inappropriate jokes are funny.
When you see a lot of ugliness, you have to find a way to deal with it. For many, that is inappropriate jokes. The need to vent is greater when you need to get back on task quickly. After a long day of putting out houses, a firefighter might say, “Fuck this, if another one catches on fire I am going to let it burn.” For a minute, you might believe him. But then the bell rings and he back on the job.
On the show Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan, a vehicle is hit with an IED. Everyone in the vehicle survive, but none are happy. One soldier says, “I am going to kick his ass!” Of course he has no idea who the bomber is, but he is still pissed. Sometimes the first reaction has profanity in it.
So there I was, on FOB Salerno, no shit. I was blissfully playing some HALO when I hear the explosion. It landed in an open area on post, but close enough that I could feel the concussion wave. My first reaction? I threw the controller down and said, “Fuck this. Assholes!”
I was pissed that I would have to pause the game and head for the bunker. I don’t mind the crap that happens when I am outside the wire, but this is cutting into my “me” time. The Taliban are inconsiderate fuckers like that. Don’t they know I have better things to do than sit in a bunker while I wait for the all clear?
When no other word will do
When you need something done, ask politely and say “please.” If you are in a serious situation and need everyone to act immediately, take out the please and throw in an f-bomb and you get an immediate, serious response.
It is also effective when scolding a soldier. Of course, this also adds to the venting if the soldier’s screw up displeases you. There are times when it is difficult to get soldiers to take your message seriously if you sit in a circle and discuss your feelings. Sometimes you have to yell.
My favorite correction, “You are fucking up. You need to unfuck yourself… time now… or I will unfuck you for you!” This must be saved only for extreme situations. But if someone is screwing up in a way that will get people killed, it gets the message across.
The military is filled with all types of people. I have known soldiers that never swear. They are good guys, and can find success in the military. And then there are the ones who abuse the freedom to swear. There are times when it can get quite excessive.
I had a drill sergeant that swore to an excessive degree. Once you noticed it, it was funny. It was comical how many variations of the word “fuck” into a sentence. It was more than just a verb, it was a an adjective, an adverb, a comma, it was pretty much everywhere.
And it was every single sentence. Take an innocent statement, “I was talking to my friend the other day.” It is simple and gets a clear message across. He would say, “I was fucking talking to my fucking friend the other fucking day.” There is no need for anyone to swear that much. But it kept us cracking up.
The idea that military members swear should not be a surprise to anyone. At this site continues to grow and more people add content, you might hear more and more swear words. It is the price you pay for hearing what veterans think when they are being unedited.
It isn’t about being offensive or inappropriate on purpose. It is about being unedited. Everyone is the United States has the Freedom of Speech. It is an entitlement, a priceless gift. Everyone has that right, along with the Freedom of religion and of the press. We are all free to express ourselves. Speaking for myself, I believe that the culture of political correctness has extended past its usefulness and become something oppressive. Now you don’t know what people are thinking because it would be politically incorrect. Well I say fuck that.
We all have the freedom of expression, but there is a difference. I earned mine. I have risked life and limb in service to my country. I do it because, despite its faults, I think it is the best country in the world. I am fortunate to have been born an American and I have given back to the nation and people that have given me so much. This does not detract from the rights of others. I am just saying that I have paid my dues and I get to freely express myself. And if someone doesn’t like it, they can talk away, or click to close the window.
For everyone else, stick around. This shit is going to be fun.