Book Blurbs (FUCK by Christopher M. Fairman)
Written in a clear (at times sarcastic) voice, reading FUCK (Word Taboo and Protecting Out First Amendment Liberties) by Christopher M. Fairman (2009) is time well spent. FUCK is a short work exploring the nature of the word fuck as a social and legal problem. Fairman starts by giving an overview of the history of fuck as a word, its usage and etymology, as well as the psycholinguistics of the word, and the inconsistent treatment of fuck in various court cases. “Fuck is taboo-” Fairman concludes, “deep-rooted and dark. For over half a millennium we’ve suppressed it. If the psycholinguists are right, we’ve done so for good reason. Fuck embodies our entire culture’s subconscious feelings about sex – about incest, being unclean, rape, sodomy, disease, Oedipal longings, and the like. The word shoulders an immense taboo burden.” (pg. 188). FUCK is a work which makes the reader think about words and why they are deemed ‘profane’, ‘inappropriate’, and the reasons we feel ashamed when we break the taboos on language. Fairman concludes by saying that liberating our language from taboos is also an approach to freedom of mind (our thoughts are limited by the words we keep), and this freedom starts with relieving fuck of its burden of taboo to expand our herds of words.