This would be a nice test for the BSA

June 14th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A 13 year old uses the c word twice on television. But not in an offensive way – she was repeating a text sent between two teenagers (one of whom was her best friend) where she called him a rapist and he called her the c word. The TV presenter I thought handled it very well and said we need to be careful of language but says that’s all right sweetheart.

While such language is not generally allowed on free to air television, I don’t see that the network could do much about it. I do wonder what would the do, if this happened in NZ.

What is perhaps surprising, is that the 13 year old didn’t think not to say the word on air. It indicates perhaps that it doesn’t have a lot of shock value to that generation. Or it might just be that she was being literal in referring to the content of the e-mails.

Hat Tip: Murray Report

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55 Responses to “This would be a nice test for the BSA”

  1. AlphaKiwi (683 comments) says:

    It’s just a word. No biggie.

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  2. ZenTiger (435 comments) says:

    Only if everything you say is intrinsically meaningless.

    A bunch of words in this case added up to threats, which were later acted upon.

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  3. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    Gone are the day’s where children were taught otherwise David, we are suppose to be living in the era of ‘enlightenment’ and yet every second word from most children today is a ‘profanity’. It has become so ‘normal’ now that it’s considered an aspect of colloquial language or everyday slang.

    The influences of morality, ethical behaivour, civility and good nature simply don’t exist anymore. There are many factors’ for this, but the truth is that society as an entity is degrading, and quickly.

    :D

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  4. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    I was about 10 I think when I first heard the c word. At home I reported what somebody had called me to my mum. I had no idea it was especially offensive, it was just another word. But the complete shock on my mother’s face soon convinced me actually it was very bad. And so its been for me ever since. But until someone explains to you that its a bad word, its just another word.

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  5. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “It indicates perhaps that it doesn’t have a lot of shock value to that generation.”

    What does? Their parents are mostly Progressive knuckle draggers. They’re immune to anything involving manners, self restraint, or any kind of behaviour that extends outside those boundaries allowed by their tree dwelling simian forebears.

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  6. Fletch (6,502 comments) says:

    There’s something about the ‘c’ word… I think it’s about the worst cuss-word there is. It’s uncouth, raw, insulting, and leaves a very bad taste. I agree with what Fale Andrew said. Standards have dropped so far now – a lot of children are not taught that cussing is wrong. In the old days a child would have got their mouth washed out with soap for saying something less.

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  7. mjwilknz (605 comments) says:

    I dunno, Fletch, Fale and plenty of others. Kids these days! Back in my day… :-)

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  8. WilliamPitt (25 comments) says:

    Fale you are a a religious fanatic so maybe the world doesn’t live up to your religious expectations. But everything is doing AOK down here in the real world.

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  9. big bruv (14,165 comments) says:

    Cue bible bashers telling us all how to raise our kids.

    Of course standards have dropped, society in general has become far more tolerant (unwisely in my opinion) so it is up to individuals (personal responsibility) to maintain those standards and teach those standards to their kids.

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  10. Robert Mapplethorpe (119 comments) says:

    I must say I agree with AlhphaKiwi and ben, especially where ben states “until someone explains to you that its a bad word, its just another word.”

    And that, I think is the nub of the issue. Just why is it that some words bad words? Are not all words created equal?

    If you study language, you will see that a lot of the so called “bad words” date back to Anglo-Saxon and the attempts of the Normans to replace Anglo Saxon with Anglo Norman. In effect, a form of cultural genocide, not unlike that practiced upon other conquered peoples by their conquerors.

    I am also intrigued by adults who use codes such as “the c word” when they assume we all know they mean cunt. If that is the case, why not be honest and simply say (write) cunt?

    [DPF: I have used cunt on my blog, when it is essential to the story. For example when blogging a list of banned words from the BSA. However I try to avoid using it regularly as if it appears on my front page it gets the site blocked in many govt departments etc]

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  11. KiwiGreg (3,260 comments) says:

    I swear a lot. It’s not a word I use, like others here it just seems to be particularly offensive. In Kick Ass when Hit Girl uses it, it is clearly for its shock value for instance.

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  12. Pete George (23,688 comments) says:

    “They’re immune to anything involving manners, self restraint, or any kind of behaviour that extends outside those boundaries allowed by their tree dwelling simian forebears.”

    This is cute coming from a glowing example of manners, self restraint and kind behaviour. Thanks for all your gentle, sensible contributions RB. Bless you.

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  13. KiwiGreg (3,260 comments) says:

    Well yeah why is “truck” good but “fuck” bad and “frikking” probably ok

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  14. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    The BSA standards will be forced to drop if common swearing is part of teenages common langauge.

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  15. Pete George (23,688 comments) says:

    “Well yeah why is “truck” good but “fuck” bad and “frikking” probably ok”

    Because of the puritanical past? Swearing is designed for shock factor (it’s difficult to be shocked by it these days).

    It does seem odd that words describing two of the least objectionable things I can think of are amongst the worst curses. At times during the development of English sex was regarded as dirty and not to be talked about. Is it similar or different in other languages? And especially is it different where languages have developed where Christian prudishness hasn’t been prevalent?

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  16. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    @Pete George: Yeah, many of the words some take offense to came from taboos, but the question still remains, if we’re to be rational about this, why are these words inherently bad?

    I think the people who enjoy linking increased usage as representative of some kind of cultural decay in society are unfortunately ranting based on emotive lines rather than rational ones. At the end of the day, these are just words and it is a choice to take offense.

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  17. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    BSA… It is not OK to say the C word … but it is OK to be the C word.

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  18. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Oh, and given the lack of negative externalities and potential harm in the use of such words, taking offence is probably not worthwhile.

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  19. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    I’ve noticed there’s a trend amongst teenage girls (at least the ones that pile on to buses and wait at bus stops and that I thus get to occasionally overhear since they all talk at the tops of their voices) to call one another the c word as well as things like “slut” and “skank” etc as a term of… well… affection. A bit like some older males of my generation might say (albeit generally in private) “Hey, asshole” to a friend.

    I haven’t had the nerve to actually ask the girls what it’s all about but I suspect it may be a trend toward taking the hurt out of the word in the way the gay community did with terms such as “queer” and blacks have done by calling one another “nigger”. Innoculation, if you will.

    Of course I’m not saying that was the way it was used in this specific instance… but in my day (yes, there’s that phrase) we’d never have thought of calling a girl the c-word to her face, no matter what transgression she’d committed. Nowadays boys will throw it at a girl quite readily it seems.

    As someone who works with language I do consider it all a pity… it’s great that the sting can be taken out of hateful expressions but it dilutes (and some might say pollutes) the language.

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  20. john.bt (170 comments) says:

    I don’t give a fuck what anyone says, I still find the c-word offensive.

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  21. Sonny Blount (1,794 comments) says:

    Try employing the little cunts, then see if you think the direction etiquette is taking matters.

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  22. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Ahh, but is that a lack of propriety rather than word use in and of itself?

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  23. Bob R (1,393 comments) says:

    ***There’s something about the ‘c’ word…***

    Steven Pinker explains:

    The biologists Valerie Curtis and Adam Biran identify the reason. It can’t be a coincidence, they note, that the most disgusting substances are also the most dangerous vectors for disease. Feces is a route of transmission for the viruses, bacteria, and protozoans that cause at least 20 intestinal diseases, as well as ascariasis, hepatitis A and E, polio, ameobiasis, hookworm, pinworm, whipworm, cholera, and tetanus. Blood, vomit, mucus, pus, and s*xual fluids are also good vehicles for pathogens to get from one body into another. Although the strongest component of the disgust reaction is a desire not to eat or touch the offending substance, it’s also disgusting to think about effluvia, together with the body parts and activities that excrete them. And, because of the involuntariness of speech perception, it’s unpleasant to hear the words for them.

    Some people have been puzzled about why c*nt should be taboo. It is not just an unprintable word for the vagina but the most offensive epithet for a woman in America. One might have thought that, in the male-dominated world of swearing, the v*gina would be revered, not reviled. After all, it’s been said that no sooner does a boy come out of it than he spends the rest of his life trying to get back in. This becomes less mysterious if one imagines the connotations in an age before tampons, toilet paper, regular bathing, and antifungal drugs.”

    http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/books/stuff/media_articles/TNR%20Online%20%20What%20the%20F%20(1%20of%203)%20(print).htm

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  24. Grizz (611 comments) says:

    Cunt is not a new word and it would seem it was never once considered as vulger as what it is now. For instance, Many towns and cities throughout Medievil England had a “Gropecunt Lane” which was where the local redlight district was situated. Even Chaucer was used it in one of his tales. He spelt it “queynte” but its phonetics and meaning were the same as the modern day spelling.

    However, the Norman conquests of England brought great changes to the English language and new French/Latanic words were introduced. Many objects now often have 2 separate nouns. The pleasant and sophisticated one being of French Origin and the harsh and plain sounding one being of Germanic origin. Hence Vagina being of a French origin, Cunt German. Fuck is German, intercourse being French.

    Hence when people say: “pardon my French” before releasing a tirade of abuse, to be correct, they should say: “Please excuse my German”.

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  25. GJ (329 comments) says:

    The word is more acceptable today, simply because society has allowed it to be that way. The question should be does this allowance make it right or wrong in itself?
    Let’s move from words to behaviour. Is some behaviour acceptable and other not? Some would say anything is OK, however most would certainly say otherwise.
    It is a sad state that we don’t realise what words build people up. As a salesperson I can normally tell within minutes where a person is coming from simply by the words they speak.
    Words may be words but believe me they have the power to change your life. It is prudent to choose them wisely as we will become that which we proclaim.

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  26. Nookin (3,473 comments) says:

    It does provide a degree of therapy when one hits ones thumb with a hammer on a cold day.

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  27. Viking2 (11,579 comments) says:

    GJ; so right.
    I’d suggest that now days its a case of when to use them and when not to. If you are with the boys,well ok but if you are with an important female client then mostly not. There are some of those that are worse than men when t comes to swearing. In my opinion that tells me more about the person than anything else does.

    We experimented a few years ago in a factory with both men and women and we all agreed to cut the swearing down. It soon basically disappeared and people had much more respect for one another. Really interesting as it was a workplace of fairly vigorous debate. Not at all PC.

    Became a good workplace. Men stopped denigrating the women and women appreciated the removal of the fear that came with the men swearing.
    I suspect that certain Lady Bloggers would fail to see the merit because the testosterone runs high in their veins so they adopt mens attitudes and mannerisms.
    Bring back that nice young lady we used to have.
    Actually interviewed one last thing today. Quite delightful to talk to.

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  28. Lucia Maria (2,609 comments) says:

    If words are just words, why don’t we just go back to grunting? Language is just so passé …

    The 13 yo above should have at the very least been embarrassed to repeat the c-word, especially since it has a specific meaning that has turned a female body part into a swear word.

    It’s a swear word because it’s only used as a swear word. Though, it’s not as bad as when the Lord’s name is used as a swear word. I find that infinitely worse, because the holiest name in the world is used in a crass, offensive manner as a term of disrespect.

    But then you get 13 yo, who should still be innocent, using a sexual word without blinking or shame or embarrassment. And presumably, hardly a reaction from the adults around her who should be pulling her into line. And at the very least, making sure should couldn’t repeat the word publicly. Otherwise, it’s just implicitly sanctioning the use of the word, and not teaching the young girl anything good.

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  29. GJ (329 comments) says:

    Vicking2: What a great report which just again shows that the words we speak certainly do set an atmosphere. Words are thrown around far to lightly these days without any consideration too what they might be producing.
    Yours is a powerful example, in regards the use of words, which is difficult to argue with. well done and thanks for your support!

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  30. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    A young girl gets assaulted so badly that she lands in ICU… but she said “cunt”. Oh no, that’s the problem!

    I find blatant hateful anger from some of the contributors on this blog much much more offensive. Especially when they claim that it’s from JC.

    I find the view that “kids these days are so much worse than in my day, society will collapse and the world is going to end” to be ludicrous and a bit boring. It has been said by idiots every generation after every generation. It’s disturbing that this has been encouraged to push belief in tripped out myths like Revelations.

    “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” – Socrates 5th Century BC

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  31. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    @Lucia Maria: So often we hear people using the words “Yahweh” and “Yehoshuah” as swear words. Or do you mean “Allah”?

    Personally, I am offended when somebody not of my religion uses the name of the mightiest of my gods, Odin, as a swear. For example, when somebody hits their thumb with a hammer and cries out “By Odin’s beard!”. I just want to grab my battle-axe and take it to them.

    …Oh wait, no I don’t. Because I don’t expect those not of my religion to have the same beliefs and I realise the word does not have the same meaning for them, nor the reverence I apply to it. I don’t even get offended as I realise that what may be the holiest word in the world to me is not necessarily the holiest word in the world to another. And given that I have to take it on faith that my gods exist, I accept that there is legitimate doubt that it is the holiest word in the world. I don’t even expect respect for my beliefs, because it has been shown that often beliefs do not spring from rational premises and accordingly mine – not being based on high quality evidence, but instead stemming from tradition, inculcation and suppression of dissent and opposing views through such concepts as mandatory “respect” – are probably irrational and thus not deserving of respect, just tolerance where they don’t have negative externalities.

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  32. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    JiveKitty: My condolences on your Thor thumb :-D

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  33. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “I find blatant hateful anger from some of the contributors on this blog much much more offensive.”

    Really? You poor pitiful little victim you. How can you bear it all?

    Can I tell you what I find offensive?

    I’m offended by your arrogance, and your whining, and your pathetic moral equivalency, but most of all, I’m offended by your under educated ignorance of history, your wilful blindness and as a result of this, your dull minded compulsion to repeat Progressive propaganda, without even coming close to realising that is what you are doing.

    In truth, there was not all that much decline in standards until the end of the second world war, and after that time, the seeds of decay that were planted in the fifties grew upwards and outwards. They sprouted in the sixties, grew wildly in the seventies and eighties and reached full bloom in the nineties and the first decade of the new century.

    You only have to look at crime records to note that most of the decline in civility occurred in the last fifty to sixty years. Coincident with the rise in the political fortunes of the left. As they attacked tradition, the family unit, our education systems and almost every facet of our culture. Poisoning it for generations to come. As the left rose in political and social ascendancy, so our standard of civilisation has descended.

    They poisoned our culture, and you Tristan are one of the results. We are nowadays burdened with generations of ignorant of history knuckle draggers like yourself, who have no idea of what went before. So dulled mentally that you post imaginary quotes here from uncredited sources, the convenient propaganda of arse saving Progressives, and believe them to be true. Just a typical gullible malleable state educated socialist drone.

    Read some history you simpering little jerkoff, and learn some damn manners and something that might be of value in raising your own kids. God only knows what cretins they’re going to be.

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  34. real independent (30 comments) says:

    The following is a list of complete cunts:
    -the BSA
    -talkback hosts
    -ACT party
    -National
    -Labour
    -Progresives
    -Greens
    -The Maori Party
    -any fucken party with Peter cunting Dunn or Winston the cunt Peters in it.
    -royalists
    -republicunts
    -Isfuckenraelis
    -Palifuckenstinians
    -libertarians (stupid cunts)
    -religious cunts
    -athiest cunts
    -agnostic cunts
    If i’ve left any cunt off the list, i’m sorry- but fuck off C U N T S!

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  35. V (751 comments) says:

    Just a theory here, well more of a supposition – and with absolutely no evidence to back it up.

    Perhaps now that language has lost it’s ‘shock’ value, explains (in part) why some young men and woman resort to physical violence on their peers. The era of using wit in the playground is over, replaced by violence.

    Sticks and stones etc …

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  36. Brian Smaller (4,026 comments) says:

    JiveKitty: My condolences on your Thor thumb

    Rex – I wouldn’t want to Bragi about it but I have never hit my thumb with a hammer. I imagine it hurts like Hel.

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  37. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Haha. Thanks, Rex. I’ll leave the puns to you and Brian. You two are much better at it than I.

    I don’t know, V. When I was a teenager, the words had lost their shock value. It just meant that those of us who were so inclined had to be more innovative with our insults. Of course, if you’re being more innovative sometimes it goes over a person’s head and they’re less inclined to use their fists because they don’t quite comprehend what you’ve said. I would also think that with diminished shock value, people’s responses would lessen, so whereas once when you called someone a “cunt”, they might hit you, but now they might just say “And what?”. I doubt wit in the playground was ever really centred on swear words though: one of their attributes is that it takes little wit to use them.

    I think if there has been an increase in violence, it’s more down to things in society like lack of consistency from authority coupled with, amongst other things, decreasing homogeneity of society. Possibly also that rates of reporting violence have increased, and certain violence which was once acceptable no longer is.

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  38. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    I would also posit that the lack of respect for other people and for authority in general adds to the attitude of lack of civility prevalent in society.
    It hasn’t happened overnight but incrementally as we have allowed behaviour and attitudes to prevail in the public square that encourages this lack of civility.

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  39. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Tristan
    Who says blatant anger is from JC and who is this JC?

    I find blatant hateful anger from some of the contributors on this blog much much more offensive. Especially when they claim that it’s from JC.

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  40. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    BB
    Of course standards have dropped, society in general has become far more tolerant (unwisely in my opinion) so it is up to individuals (personal responsibility) to maintain those standards and teach those standards to their kids.

    Good points and people do of course, but they are swimming against a tide of vileness sometimes, especially when it flows into your house via the gogglebox.
    The solution is to turn it off but that means they have won by lessening your options or we lose as a society because of it.

    I have no wish for the prudish puritans and especially the hypocritical “keep it clean but ignore how we behave lot” but langugae can be so beautiful and edifying can’t it?

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  41. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “…and leaves a very bad taste..”

    that depends…

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  42. Lucia Maria (2,609 comments) says:

    JiveKitty,

    It’s not a matter of being “offended”.

    Unlike yourself, I am not a moral relativist. Something is not wrong because I think it is wrong – it’s wrong because it is wrong.

    If you were to kick a beggar everytime you walked past him, I would not be “offended”. I would instead think badly of you for doing so, and be outraged on behalf of the beggar whom you hurt. Using the Lord’s name as a swear word is more like that than your Odin example. Whom I sincerely doubt you believe is real.

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  43. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Your example imposes direct physical harm on a person. You haven’t shown that any harm comes from the use of “the Lord’s name in vain” except that offence which is chosen. You haven’t explained WHY it is wrong, while I have offered reasons it is oh so right.
    You haven’t explained which names you think are inappropriate. If it is only names from your religion, you haven’t explained why it is more important to try not to give you opportunity to be offended than some other sincere believer of another religion.
    You also haven’t explained which names from your religion – presumably the Christian faith – are used, given the name typically used in English is not the name of the Christian God. Or did that somehow change just because the language was different?
    Odin’s just as likely to be real as the Christian god, if not more, and doesn’t come packaged with the conflicting attributes of omnibenevolence, omnipotence and omniscience which most Christians give their god. Also doesn’t have a Bible with poorly hidden remnants of conflicting – at least in the eyes of its general believers – polytheism. Also, Odin’s AWESOME!

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  44. GJ (329 comments) says:

    JiveKitty: Of all the religions in the world why do you seem to be so against the Christian Faith? Is there a difference between them and other faiths? It comes through very strongly in most of your writings.

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  45. Lucia Maria (2,609 comments) says:

    JiveKitty,

    The thing with examples, is that they tend not to be an exact match for whatever you are trying to communicate with them. So, my example of the beggar that you kick was to show *you* how the act of swearing using the Lord’s name is perceived by those who love Him. It’s not about the harm, it’s about the vileness of the act itself, ie a morally reprehensible act irrespective of who is involved and how they feel about it.

    It’s wrong because of how it’s used. It turns a holy name into a swear word. It’s like making a cake for someone and filling it with excrement. It’s turns the cake, something normally given as a gift, into an insult. It turns something good into something bad.

    No, I haven’t given the name – but, I don’t need to. You know the name. The name by itself can be used as a prayer.

    Yes, there is a lot that I haven’t explained, but honestly, it takes time for me to work out what level of intelligence I am dealing with. But the more you talk, the easier that becomes.

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  46. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Which, if you could do that, would probably show that taking the Lord’s name in vain is a bad thing to do.

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  47. Lucia Maria (2,609 comments) says:

    JiveKitty,

    It only matters if God is real.

    If God is real, then showing Him respect, even if you don’t want to believe in Him is a really good idea.

    It’s a pretty simple concept.

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  48. Lucia Maria (2,609 comments) says:

    Oh my goodness, Ms Kitty, that “evil god challenge” is tedious!

    I’ve found that if a thing is tedious, it generally doesn’t say anything worth knowing.

    God does prevent evil. If He let evil have it’s way in the world, there would nothing left.

    He does allow a little evil, however, so that we learn from our actions. So that we can be responsible for what we do. So we can see that the evil we do must be atoned for. So that those who prevent evil despite personal cost to themselves can be rewarded.

    You’re obviously not a parent, otherwise you would see that at some point you have to allow your children to make their own decisions and choices. You can’t save them from every consequence of their actions, and if you did, you’d create little monsters who think the whole world revolves around themselves. At some point those children have to grow up, and it’s the same with us and God. He allows us to grow up.

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  49. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Heh, I thought perseverance was a value. Many find the Bible tedious. I doubt you would say that it doesn’t contain anything worth knowing. However, I don’t expect to convince you of anything. Just offering an alternative view which is backed by rationality, logic and thought. Not to say yours isn’t. The utility of believing in a god or gods can probably make such belief rational, and the evidence against a god or gods existence is not absolute. But it is worth considering that there are those with no religion or different religions to you who have different views and have thought long and hard about them and their relation to reality using logic and rationality.

    Others would consider your god akin to an abusive parent: the flood, for example, a bit of an overreaction.

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  50. Lucia Maria (2,609 comments) says:

    JiveKitty,

    First you want to know why God allows evil, and then, when He acts decisively (wiping out all the evil people in the world via flood), you call it an overreaction! You can’t have it both ways.

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