Expletive excess in public venues and workplaces is an ever-rising tide.
From White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to actor Christian Bale – who infamously spewed a three-and-a-half-minute F-bomb rant on the set of the latest “Terminator” film – the air brims with the cussing of the famous and the rest of us.
Emanuel's propensity for profanity even caused President Obama to joke on Mother's Day weekend that Rahm is “not used to saying the word ‘day' after ‘mother.'”
A study published two years ago in the Leadership and Organization Development Journal suggested that swearing can be a healthy stress release, something needed in high-pressure workplaces.
Even though 40 percent of business owners in a SurePayroll.com survey this spring admitted swearing on the job, 80 percent said bad words are out of place at work and give the wrong impression about professionalism.
Only 1 in 10 of the survey respondents thought cursing was a justified pressure valve or morale booster.
One expert, Harvard University professor and author Steven Pinker, has written about five distinct types: abusive (used to be hurtful); idiomatic (to be macho or cool); emphatic (to stress a point); cathartic (to release pain or emotion, as when you spill hot coffee in your lap); and dysphemistic (to substitute a distasteful term for a milder one).
While about three-fourths of Americans admit to swearing some time, just about everyone says they've heard it in public.