Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Catching up, and my disdain of offense

Thank hell it's Wednesday. I've missed you Classics, and I'm glad I actually have time to post today, as these last couple weeks have been busier than a swarm of pregnant bees. Even Spring Break was work. It started in Joplin, Mo., with a mini-mission trip, then I spent the entire week seeing family and friends and it was more appointment-like than I would have preferred. I get back to school, where I'm suddenly behind in my classes, and have to immediately begin work as a baseball beat reporter. OK, maybe not immediately, there was a bit of mediate in there, but the time between was negligible as this was my first beat writing experience and therefore I wasn't considering the couple of days between getting back and starting work as "downtime" because I had never been "up." You see what I'm saying?

Anyhow, the baseball beat has pushed — shoved — me. I am a tired person, but at the same time really happy to be swinging the bat instead of managing the lineup. (Expect these kinds of analogies to become more frequent.) I miss my writers, or rather, "my writers": the idea that I am somehow above these people who work harder than I. There are a select few writers to whom I fervently enjoyed giving edits, and getting edited is less fun after being the one editing for a year, as the changes in most cases are a matter of compromise; what am I willing to give up to the editor?

The actual work is really enjoyable, though I wouldn't call it fun. Talking to athletes and coaches is always nerve wracking because of the general pampering athletic entities receive from fans (which we all are) and the media (which, we all are fans). You have to ask them poignant questions that get them engaged, get them talking, and don't piss them off. Meanwhile, we may forget that the athletes may actually be nervous talking to a reporter, or excited and hopeful to get quoted in the paper. Right fielder Davis Hendrickson recognized me at a bar last night and asked me if I remembered him. My first real story (other than piddly recaps and previews) ran in today's paper, and I'm proud of it — more so in the fact that I did it than the story itself. Illini of the Week is a weekly feature series we do at the Daily Illini, and this was my first time doing one. Doing an IOTW is considered (consciously or subconsciously) as one of the rites of passage on the DI Sports staff. After the story was turned in, the staff had a barcrawl (unrelated), wherein the staff mixed beer with orange shirts to breed camaraderie. I was always slightly anxious about writing a varsity beat, and the lack of experience in that regard is the main reason I was presented with for not receiving the position of sports editor. So doing this has a cathartic punch to it as well.

What's suffered most in my time as a beat writer has been Room 583, Townsend Hall. Box score sheets riddle the already-filthy floor, my books seep from my bed toward the television, and, unrelated to my new role at the DI, our chair — our one, nice thing — broke. You would think this would clear out some space in the room, but no, the chair's still there, essentially serving as nothing more than a felt circle of blue between whomever's rump and the ground.

I finally caught up on all my TV shows, which is great. I'm sorry mom and I promise to look into scholarships promptly after finishing this post.

The thing that sucks about being a beat reporter is that, if by some off chance, an Illinois baseball fan wants to follow me on Twitter, I have an obligation to not say "fuck" all the time. Same with being friends with my girlfriend's parents on Facebook. Some people just don't understand the value of the word "fuck." Frankly, this confuses me. I got why they didn't want me to curse in my youth — it's bad if kids are running around saying "fuck you" or that "you're a stupid mother fucker" but I don't see the harm in adults having an understanding of life's knack for inducing stress. Stress that makes people really want to say "fuck." I'm friends with some younger kids on Facebook, middle schoolers I meet through church retreats.  And I'm not interested in creating separate social media accounts "for those times when saying fuck is the only way" because I'm interested in promoting who I am, which is a person who, like most people, says "fuck" on occasion. It pains me to have to limit my colorful (a word I'm not even using in the sarcastic euphemism way!) vocabulary to conform to society's image or proper. It pains me a lot. Especially since the word "fuck" isn't really offensive even. It's not theological, sexist, racist or homophobic. It alludes to sex, but so does childbirth, children, and the human race at all. But really, we don't say "fuck" to mean sex, we say it to express displeasure with a situation, or to emphasize something, or as an expression to indicate an unfortunate state ("that's fucked up"). People aren't picturing sexual intercourse and then being overwhelmed with disgust, they are simply angered at the language itself, which is amazing in nature. This combination of sounds (fuh-k) makes us feel a certain way for the very nature of it and not for its meaning. I think some people are just frightened by the ferocity with which the word "fuck" indicates the user is speaking. For instance, people will freeze in their tracks if you question them by saying "Are you fucking kidding me?" when the only difference between that question and a mild "Are you kidding me?" is a word that doesn't mean anything in particular but has a distinct purpose of emphasis. Essentially, "Are you fucking kidding me?" and "Are you kidding me?" are the same thing. Also, the use of "fucking" in sentences provides a rhythmic build-up to the next word. In the case of "Are you fucking kidding me?" it builds a tension by creating a kind-of pause in the middle of the sentence (pause in the sense that the word "fucking" doesn't add any semantic value to the sentence) that's purpose is to emphasize whatever is about to be said. "Are you (!) (!) kidding me?" There's one (!) for each syllable. I guess (!) symbolizes the implication of accentuation and intensity.

It's different than using the word "fag" to mean dumb or stupid, and where people usurp presumed bigotry by saying "I don't even mean gay people, I'm just saying fag to indicate that I don't like it." The same concept applies with "nigger" or "bitch." The word itself, not by definition or context, but as a device to belittle or alienate, makes some people feel upset. That's what offensive is. Basically, this scene.

So fuck and asshole and shit are words that we should take lighter than bitch and gay and damn. Bitch is misogynist, gay is homophobic (we really should find a more correct word than homophobia, how about "sexualism" or "gaytred") and damn implicates the phrase "God damn it," or the notion of asking a higher power to damn something to an eternal inferno.  It's indicating the Lord's name in a vain manner, so Christians, attack that word.

Fuck is a thing necessary to human existence, shit is a thing all humans do and asshole is a thing all humans have. And when we cuss, we are succumbing to the human experience, frustrated by all that life has thrown our way. We are stressed out.

So if some asshole — a figure we all despise lest we remember that we have all before been some asshole — is telling you to do a bunch of shit — unpleasant things that we all have to experience practically every day — then you would be correct to assess the situation with an utterance of the word "fuck" — that's life.

--Eliot Sill




  2. You gotta get off this kick about talking about/explaining/glorifying swearing. This is like the 3rd post now. Comments are naturally gonna run a bit dry.

  3. If it makes you feel better, no one fucking comments on anyone's shit anymore.