November 22, 2011

British courts say it’s OK to swear


Fuck yeah, it’s OK to swear. That’s the message being sent out by the British courts, which have ruled in favour of a man who ‘repeatedly used an expletive while being searched by the police.’ The judge, we’re told, ‘ruled that officers heard the term in question too frequently to be offended by it.’

It’s been a good year for the foul of mouth; we wrote a few weeks ago about a publishing trend in which expletives in the titles of books drive huge sales. Think Go the Fuck to Sleep.

Book-buyers and judges are probably some of the most astute gauges of prevailing cultures that there are, so all indications are that most of us just aren’t bothered by swearing any more. There are times when the language at Melville HQ is gloriously gutter-bound, so we’re all for this, except for one thing: where do you go for shock value when the old-fashioned four-letter swear words don’t cut it any more?

Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.