Sordid Tales (No Cussing Week)

April 10, 2008

By now, you’ve probably heard about the 14-year-old South Pasadena boy who recently lobbied to have profanity banned in his hometown. Apparently, the City Council liked the idea so much that they officially proclaimed the first week in March as No Cussing Week.

Now keep in mind, No Cussing Week is not law. It’s an official proclamation, which means—it don’t mean squat. It is unenforceable, un-punishable, not in violation of the First Amendment and, therefore, not deserving of our contempt.

It is, however, deserving of our ridicule.

Forget the obvious reason, which is that swearing is a valuable element of human communication. Anyone who doesn’t know that has never had their plane stuck on the tarmac for three hours, their shampoo bottles leak into their suitcase or their hotel reservation misplaced—all during the same trip. You just try to tell me that having access to a couple of choice obscenities at that moment wouldn’t save at least a couple of lives.

But the main reason No Cussing Week deserves our ridicule is because it’s retarded.

The person responsible is McKay Hatch, the 14-year-old founder of the South Pasadena High School No Cussing Club. The No Cussing Club (NCC) is well-organized and proactive. It has a website, a logo, a motto, a T-shirt and even a theme song with accompanying music video. The song is called, “Don’t Cuss,” which is sung by young Hatch, who raps about the origins of the movement. The video opens with him watching some older kids playing basketball.

“I was sitting in the schoolyard, hanging with my crowd / When some kids came walking by, talking really foul / Every other word was burning in my ear / So I took a new stand and I challenged all my peers.”

At this point, two of the older kids step into frame and begin fighting over the basketball. Heath, a pasty-faced, puny little twerp, stands up, snatches the rock from their hands and gets in their faces with the chorus:

“If you wanna hang with us, I don’t wanna hear you cuss—don’t cuss!”

OK, look, I know the boy is only 14, and it’s fabulous that he’s expressing himself artistically. It’s just, when I watch this video, I can’t help but think, Man, you are sooo gonna get your ass kicked in school tomorrow.

When asked what made him decide to go on this anti-cussing mission, Hatch—whom I call Dead Kid Walking—said, “My mom and dad taught me good morals… and not cussing was one of them.”

Obviously, an adolescent boy has no deeper understanding of the word “morals” beyond whatever slop his parents have been pouring into his trough for the last 14 years. But swear words are just words, and words have no moral attributes. If anything, it’s bad morality to teach your kids not to curse. Especially if your child is puny and twerpy and tends to go on no-cussing crusades, wearing that holier-than-thou-boy-prodigy smirk that makes you want to bash his teeth in.

It’s just not safe is what I’m saying.

Imagine a bunch of non-puny seniors in the school cafeteria talking smack and dropping F-bombs for fun. Then up walks some pasty-faced twerp like McKay Hatch with his cloud of holier-than-thouness floating over his puny little body and announces, “My dad says it’s wrong to use bad words”—a sentence that he will be permitted to finish upside-down in the cafeteria dumpster with globs of ketchup smeared on his face.

Parents, if you love your kids, teach them to curse. And for god’s sake, don’t let them join no No Cussing Club! Can you imagine those meetings, sitting around the tree fort drinking SunnyD and planning their anti-cussing patrol?

“OK, gang, tomorrow we go out in teams of two. Tom and Jimmy will monitor the bathrooms. Sally and Ralph, you guys canvass the cafeteria. Log every cussword you hear. And, please, no heroes! Remember how long it took to dig Hatch out of the dumpster last time?

Yeah, um, no, I’m telling you, you teach your kids to curse. Teach them everything there is to know about swearing. Teach them all kinds of wonderful dirty words that none of their friends have heard—everything from underground cult hits to old-school classics like “Up yours” and “Pecker” and my all-time favorite, “Get bent.” Teach them how to coin their own obscene insults by placing a vulgar word next to a body part. Words like “Douchenose” and “Assmouth” are sure to be big winners in the cafeteria.

Teach them, also, about obscenity etiquette, like the importance of not cursing in front of adults, as a matter of respect, and because it might lead to a visit from Child Protective Services.

Teach them about restraint. Tell your children, “Children, go forth and curse righteous. But remember, like everything thing else in this world, foul language is best delivered in moderation. Use your four-letter words sparingly. And don’t forget to mix it up. Don’t just use the F-word, use the S-word, too. And the P-word, and the A-word. Remember to use all the delightful nuggets in the J-word series, and D-words, and even the B-word, though never against women, unless they are total C-words.

If W. and I had kids and lived in South Pasadena, No Cussing Week would be a holiday. Once a year, on the first Saturday in March, the Decker Clan would go on a field day. We would decorate the family SUV with tin cans and ribbons—like the newlyweds do—only instead of writing “Just married” on the back, it’ll say, “Get bent, South Pasadena!” Then we’d cruise down Main Street blaring Too Short at top volume.

For lunch, we’d take the crew into McDonalds. When it was our turn at the register, I would face the kids and shout, “OK, you little bastards, whaddya want?!” To which they would respond, “We want the happy meal, motherfucker!” Then we’d laugh and cuss and make fart noises with our armpits until the manager had no choice but to kick us out and we would have no choice but to give him the unanimous finger as we stumbled toward the door doubled over in laughter.

“You see I’m not proper, I’m rarely polite / Too Short, Too Short, don’t say it tonight.”

—From “Cusswords” by Too Short

Ed Decker


  1. Wow. I mean … um … wow.

    Words nearly fail. I think back on the things that I’ve done that make me cringe, and there is nothing to compare. On the one hand, if I had done something like that as a kid, the person I am today would probably be suicidally embarrassed. Seriously. No joke.

    Then again, if I had done something like that as a kid, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.

    Oh, right. One other thing to teach the kids: obscenity combined with the suffix -wad is both potent and strangely enduring. I mean, what the hell is a “douchewad”?

    But it works nonetheless.

  2. wad is one of the great, classic obscenity suffixes. You could attach “wad” to any word and have an instant insult. Ain’t that right, camerawad!?

    So, did you watch that video?

  3. That video was painful, sir. It should come with a hazard warning from the Surgeon General: “Warning: Viewing this video may cause cringing resulting in injury or death.

    And those t-shirts!

    Just … just a note to this great country’s future skidwads philistines moralists: When you go to get your matching t-shirts made, a sense of style won’t kill you. In fact, it might even save your life.

    Unless, of course, you’re Hulk Hogan. Then I don’t think anyone will um … yeah.


    Gyah! Fuh-reekin’ rack-a-frack-a-mumble-murmur-snarl!

    You did know, though, didn’t you, that swear words come from the Devil? That’s actually a long story that, if I could tell it properly, I would be a best-selling novelist.

    Maybe someday.

    Okay, okay. I’ll match your Too Short with Twisted Sister (“One Bad Habit”):

    I don’t curse. Well, just a bit.
    Somehow “Gee whiz” and “Golly” don’t make it ….

  4. I think we need to get t-shirts made for the conference that read simply this: Write-wad.


  5. Bright freakin’ orange? Or how about chartreuse?

    Yeah, chartreuse with turquoise letters.

    The hotel might never let us come back after that.

  6. I’d wear one.

  7. I say we invite the kid himself to sport the new “Write-Wad” t-shirt, maybe have him be a keynote speaker to preach to us the folly of using bad words in literature.

    I’ll bring the tomatoes.

  8. What is the fuss about? He’s a kid who knows that words do carry morals and responsibilities. This is his choice and further more it is ridiculous to suggest that parents should teach their kids to curse. Shame on those who do. I am a fourteen year old who openly refuses to cuss at school. I have never had a problem finding friends (even friends who cuss constantly). Grow up!

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