We all know what the phrase means: an “illegitimate child” was born to parents who were not legally married.
The phrase originated from an English and Welsh law that said if the oldest son was a “illegitimate child” he could not inherit if the parents of his younger brother were married. Coincidentally, another particular word referring to illegitimate children has become an intermediate curse word over the years.
There are probably five good reasons you won’t find me using profanity.
One of them is because sometimes in order to call someone a profane name, even and especially jokingly, it puts me in a position to judge a person based on an insensitive stereotype or demographic to which I am indirectly validating.
By calling someone this particular modern day curse word I am referring to, it is insinuating that person’s parents were never married; that he was conceived outside of a committed, loving relationship; and therefore, he is not capable of treating people with respect and decency.
But really, which is worse: the phrase “illegitimate child” for tying the word “illegitimate” to the word “child,” or that particular inglorious curse word I keep referring to because it has gained the status of profanity in our culture?
I think the first is worse. Again, this is me being overly analytical and taking things too seriously (and deep) because that’s what I do as a writer, but it’s a crazy thought to consider any child being “illegitimate.” Right?
Sure, I totally realize we don’t literally mean a kid is illegitimate in a literal, overall sense. But it makes me wonder if we really do see certain children as illegitimate.
Maybe part of the reason I am so passionate about this concept that no child is illegitimate is the fact that, like Ron Paul, I am an avid pro-life supporter.
It’s easy to say that no child is illegitimate, but I’m not sure we are convinced about that. At least not until he or she passes through the birth canal.
Be on the look-out next month for No Such Thing as Illegitimate Children, Part 2.
I always thought that one of the most fun jobs in the world would be to censor R-rated movies for TV. Some of the curse word stand-ins are simply (and deliberately) hilarious. I remember in high school watching the edited-for-TV version of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. There’s a part where Judge Reinhold’s character gets fired from his fast food cashier job for “using profanity” with a customer: “I’ll kick 100% of your face!”
Another horribly awesome substitution is for Bruce Willis’s signature catch-phrase in Die Hard. It becomes, “Yippee-ki-yay, kimosabi!” In the sequel, it’s “Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!” This is especially funny because there definitely is no character in the movie who is named “Mr. Falcon.”
Curse words both fascinate and bore me at the same time. Cursing is so common now that it holds little shock value anymore; even if we pretend otherwise. And that’s sort of the whole point of cursing: dramatic effect. I believe it is safe to say that traditional profanity is simply losing its edge because of overkill.
In fact, I make a point not to curse both in my everyday language and in my writing, simply because it makes me feel deeply unoriginal.
Besides, why should I let our American society choose the profanity word bank for me? For example, in China, it’s “son of a turtle.” That’s an actual Chinese curse word!
In the likeness of R-rated movies edited for TV, I feel more confident as a human being by using my own profanity- as I soon will demonstrate. But admittedly, as the title of this post conveys, there are plenty of times as a dad where I become pretty tempted to be unoriginal. Good thing I have my creative curse word stand-ins…
1. When my son won’t go to sleep, though he knows and I know that he really wants to and needs to: I think there’s some really popular book out about this very thing… if only I could think of the name of that book. Profanity of choice: ”Ah, shazbot!”
2. When my son gets whiny because I’m not his mom: It’s so annoying that all my wife has to do is pick him up if he cries, and he’s fine. As for me, I have to constantly distract him with a new toy or take him on a walk outside for a change of scenery or injure myself in attempt to humor him. Profanity of choice: ”Smurf it!”
3. The fact that my son has a talent for easily finding and experimenting with the most physically threatening item in his proximity: In a room full of age-appropriate toys, he will dart towards an uncapped ball-point pen or an unprotected electrical outlet that I overlooked. He knows how to find adventure; or as I know it, danger. Profanity of choice: Royal Ruckus!
4. When my son puts up a fight as I change his diaper. Hey, I already have a track record for not changing his wet diapers as much as I should; well, he sure doesn’t inspire me to change my bad habits. Profanity of choice: ”Crash Bandicoot!”
5. Having to pay extra money for something he refuses to eat. Confession: I believe that “baby yogurt” is simply regular yogurt with an extra vitamin or two; just a marketing ploy for first-time parents. I learned my lesson- my son made me waste three bucks on “baby yogurt” that he wouldn’t eat. Profanity of choice: “Pac-Man fever!”