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08 June 2011 @ 02:46 pm
Don't profiteer me, man  
I've been thinking a lot about ways to change the way I talk, so as to reflect my values in my speech. Just as I would never use racist phrases like "I jewed him down" or "I got gypped" to describe financial transactions, I would like to stop using the word "lame" to refer to people's disappointing behavior, because while I don't value disappointment, I think that aligning social poor form with physical disability is ... lame stupid a bad habit of speech that supports ways of thinking that I disapprove of and don't want to be part of.

Similarly, I think sex is a great thing in the world, so I don't really want to buy into sex-negativity by using "fucker" as an insult, and I like bodies, so describing someone as a body part when instead I mean that s/he was rude or acted inappropriately ... Well, you see where I'm going with this.

Several people have suggested some insults that reflect more of my values: "profiteer", for example, or "bourgeois" (there's a hand gesture that goes with this one). But I need more! Do you have any terms or phrases that come in handy as insults or denigrating descriptors that align with your values? Please share them!
I'm feeling: curiouscurious
... in a handbasket: Scrunchiinahandbasket on June 8th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
Gypped! Holy crap, never put two and two together on that one... bleh.
ruthless compassion: blech!aroraborealis on June 8th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
I know! I clued into that one pretty late, too, and I was super disappointed about it! I actually only figured it out after the first time I heard "jewed", and then I was like, "Waaaaait a minute..."
(no subject) - blk on June 8th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - harimad on June 8th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - gentlescholar on June 8th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - metagnat on June 8th, 2011 08:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - amber_phoenix on June 8th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - meadmaker on June 9th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aroraborealis on June 8th, 2011 08:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shut_it_already on June 8th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - harimad on June 9th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dreams_of_wings on June 9th, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - contessagrrl on June 8th, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Renata Piperlyonesse on June 8th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
i guess i'm pretty literal. i (think i?) use words like "rude", "incompetent", "lazy", "lying", "false", "disappointing".
ruthless compassion: thinkyaroraborealis on June 8th, 2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
There's value in that, but I also think there's active value in using metaphors, both because they can be a little more emotionally satisfying sometimes, and because they can actively work to influence the way people think about things (like the inherent ablism of "lame" as a complaint or insult). I just want to use metaphors that reflect how I really feel and think and value qualities, characteristics, and people in the world.
(no subject) - lyonesse on June 8th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
coorr on June 8th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)

I have a friend who has replaced his bad habit of calling things "gay" with calling them "republican."

As in "That's soooo republican!"
unintentionally intimidatingcoraline on June 8th, 2011 08:38 pm (UTC)
this reminds me of dan savage's substitution of "leotarded" for "retarded".
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on June 8th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I think this will lead to you using a lot of long, descriptive phrases about stuff you dislike, rather than learning new insults, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.

The etymology of "jerk" is probably unclear enough that it might be safe. I'm also not a fan of what Ani called excessive hygiene, which, aside from the ew factor, would allow "douchebag". I also never liked "bitch", but I admit to a basic apathy toward dogs that makes it also a candidate. Ex-coworker Justin liked to call people "meatballs" or "meatheads", which I still use, if only in my mind. "Boor". "Sketchy". "Manky." "Elbow licker".

I like "bourgeois" and sparkymonster turned me on to "bourgie". I've heard people getting a lot of mileage out of "emo" recently, though I have mixed feelings about that one.

There are also all kinds of short, sweet descriptive terms: self-centered, annoying, loud, smelly, entitled, ignorant...
metagnatmetagnat on June 8th, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
Re: douchebag

I have also seen the argument that, as douching removes good bacteria and therefore opens the way to more serious fungal/bacterial issues that douches are, indeed, actively harmful to women and equating something to a douchebag is often an accurate metaphor.
Crossletcrosslet on June 8th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
For the record, bourgeois is also a family surname. So that might also be insulting to that family.

A lot of the older insults have lost initial context and currently I think they get used without realizing the history. I never realized the context of gypped until I saw it spelled out in your post. Similarly growing up in Southern LA "jewed" wasn't the pejorative it might be here. It was used in the same context as shrewd. I didn't appreciate how insulting it was until I moved here. Oddly, I don't think I've ever used lame for a human in the physical sense. Always with horses but that might be atypical.
harimad on June 8th, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
Insults that align with my values:

I'm noticing a trend here, although I would never use 'retarded' as an insult. I guess a century ago I would not have used 'moron' either.
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(no subject) - pumpkin_pi on June 9th, 2011 04:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - harimad on June 9th, 2011 10:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
"I've been ionized.  But I'm okay now."gentlescholar on June 8th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
I picked up, "Nykulturni" from Heinlein, Russian for "uncultured" but with connotations of extreme insult. I tend to say it when I see someone litter, or be otherwise socially irresponsible in public.

I think of "ass" as short for "jackass", for showing stubborn and stupid and contrary behavior. Not fond of "asshole."

When you take away religion and bodily functions, ("Sacred Feces!", I hear you cry), there aren't a whole lot of curses left, which annoys me. I sometimes use "Frell" from Farscape, which was clearly meant as a synonym for "fuck", though.

I have no idea of the origin of "scumbag" and upon consideration I probably don't want to know...

I often use "moron" and "idiot" when I mean "fool." A bad habit I am rarely reminded is one.

I refer to "bad" Republicans as "neo con men."
I'm also a bit free with "sociopath."
I refer to myself as a Luddite.
"Maniac" is for dangerous driving.
"infantile" is a good one, though I haven't used it much.
The Hebrew Hammercockhammercock on June 8th, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
Occasionally I have used "extruded plastic dingus," a phrase from the movie The Hudsucker Proxy, as an epithet. It's great because it sounds rude and kind of dirty, but doesn't actually denigrate any particular human characteristic or group of people.
Mizarchivist: Huhmizarchivist on June 8th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC)
what to do, what to do....
For quite a while I've been torn about my sex-negative defaults. But I lack options that really have that visceral quality when I say them. And I certainly would have to do some serious reprogramming to STOP saying them. Then when I did, I'd still have 2 other people in the house who may not feel a need to reprogram, which makes my own reprogramming that much more challenging.

However, I do find that certain new turns of phrase can catch on at my house. We are clearly susceptible to memes. I could see if one or two catch on. Only if they find said new word(s) appropriately satisfying to say. "Elbow Licker" seems a good start.
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Purple Vengeance Versiondr_memory on June 8th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
I am going to keep reposting this until it becomes a thing:

INHJ, IHLJ "That's some seriously advanced bullshit right there."

Edited at 2011-06-08 07:52 pm (UTC)
Molotov Coqtiz: pic#110805573eestiplika on June 8th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
I think this may be a new favorite. :: prepares to use it rigorously::
(no subject) - coraline on June 8th, 2011 08:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - signsoflife on June 11th, 2011 01:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
kinesthetic chutzpah: monkeydilletante on June 8th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
if this forces you to go through a period of highly poetic insults, i'm not sure that will be a bad thing! :) or if it forces you to think hard about exactly what it is you're trying to insult, even better...

are you trying to just avoid insults that secretly contain ideas counter to your values, or are you trying to promote other values by shoehorning a lot of complex emotional implications about broad topics into the small space of your insult the same way that ones that you dislike do?
ruthless compassion: pouncearoraborealis on June 8th, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
are you trying to just avoid insults that secretly contain ideas counter to your values, or are you trying to promote other values by shoehorning a lot of complex emotional implications about broad topics into the small space of your insult the same way that ones that you dislike do?

Both! Can I have both?
(no subject) - dilletante on June 8th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - aroraborealis on June 8th, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dilletante on June 8th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
phoenixamber_phoenix on June 8th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
(gets a fair bit of use in my household, though I may be even more fond of "profiteer!")
"I've been ionized.  But I'm okay now."gentlescholar on June 8th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
I'm a little disturbed that "capitalist" can be considered an insult, even by connotation. I mean, everyone in America with a job is a capitalist.
(no subject) - aroraborealis on June 8th, 2011 08:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dilletante on June 8th, 2011 09:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - amber_phoenix on June 8th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - entrope on June 9th, 2011 01:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
metagnatmetagnat on June 8th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
I have been trying to replace "lame" in my own vocabulary as well. I usually use "weak" instead, as I feel like "weak" connotes a relative state. It has been argued to me that the use of weak is also abelist as some folks have a disability characterized by their physical weakness. I don't know what to do about my brain habits in the face of that. Any insult that is a characteristic that could be viewed as negative which someone involuntarily has would, of course, sometimes sting that person. Avoiding all words for which that's true is difficult, but I am trying to raise my own awareness, as well.

In terms of other insults that are more neutral: I like chum sucker or scum sucker. Those both sound like unpleasant things to be. You could also go really classy and pull insults out of literature:

Mendicant! Fop! Lewdster! Bootless Canker-Blossom!

These, of course, have some of the same problems as insulting words our culture tends uses today, but they are farther removed from people's consciousness.

Then there's the route of making up your own or using words other folks made up: Santorum and Belgium fall into that category, though, of course, they're also insulting by pulling the erstwhile senator and the country into disrepute by association.

Part of the intent of insults is to sting people by associating them with groups considered undesirable and lesser by many. It's difficult to build up an insult structure that doesn't go to that place.
metagnatmetagnat on June 8th, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
Ooh, there is also the quotation or contextual insult. One must be well-read to pull that off, though, and the object of one's insult must be well-read or one must get a thrill out of being too educated to be understood.
(no subject) - aroraborealis on June 8th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - metagnat on June 8th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Pumpkin Pi: pumpkin_pipumpkin_pi on June 8th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm, so what's your take on the phrase "pig fucker" instead of "fucker"?
ruthless compassion: laughteraroraborealis on June 8th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, that one can definitely stay.
(no subject) - catness on June 8th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
yixyix on June 8th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
The most likely time when I want to insult someone or something is when I'm frustrated with them. In those circumstances, I've found that "Seriously????" (dripping with sarcasm) is very satisfying. I also find this aligns with well with my efforts to focus more on being critical of behavior rather than insulting the person (or people) in general.

Concreteconcrete on June 8th, 2011 09:38 pm (UTC)
Awwww tartar sauce! (sponge bob's swear word)
Luminous mind, bright devil: octopus: stickman taunt unnecessaryprosicated on June 9th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
I was deeply disappointed when I realized that "bugger" was also slang for a sex act of which I approve as well as an excellent thing to shout when something uncouth and uncivilized was called for. I am fond of the feel of the word in my mouth for the moments when I need something intensely negative. Curses and pejoratives and the like need to feel satisfying, you know?
Given that, I sometimes default to the names of villains in comics and cartoons ("Stop being such a Gargamel!" "What a Lex Luthor move!") when I am aware enough to try to be judgment-free (this vigilance happened more when I was an academic and highly critical of wordchoice, I've gotten lax in my intellectual decrepitude).

It's a cultural value judgment/reference in caricature form, so there's less to feel bad about (though some super-villains are caricatures of the same roots from which stem gypped, lame, gay, etc. so make of that what you will -- liberation or obfuscation).

I'm fond of "muck-raker," (all the ks make it as satisfying to say as fuck) "yellow-bellied," (good for snarling and sneering) and "prig," (though I feel sure prig must stem from something I'd be sad to be denigrating, it's too good otherwise!) for people. I'm fond of "schadenfreude" as an excellent substitute expletive when I need something to mutter.
drwex: WWFDdrwex on June 9th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
This reminds me of one of my favorite insult-namings
Robert Anton Wilson once wrote a book replacing all profanity with the names of the Supreme Court justices who had made the famous "seven words" ruling. I remember that Rehnquist was used in place of "penis" and its ilk but I don't remember the others well enough to use them regularly. I do sometimes call someone a Rehnquist, though, if only for the surprise value.
Co-conspirator of Squeemuffyjo on June 9th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
I tend to use "son of a no-good hound dog" which is a line from Auntie Mame that I picked up in high school. It's not particularly kind to the dog, but if it really was no-good, well, then it seems deserved.

Turd is a favorite when I'm really mad. There was a tennis player members of my family didn't like for various reasons and my then 7 year old cousin nick-named him "drut butt" (Turd spelled backwards) so occasionally I'll go with Drut butt.

Not very flashy.

Meanwhile, I'm with George Carlin on the use of the word "Fuck" and try to point it out when folks use it. Usually in the "really? Right here, right now? I'm not quite up for it, but thanks for the offer." or some derivative therein.
Mark Donnelly: RailsConf 2011meadmaker on June 9th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
The use of profanity
For a long time, I've carried around a bit of a mental essay about some of this profanity. I'm not sure if I've ever written it down. But, here goes...

It seems to me that one of the major uses of profanity is to relieve stress. If something bad happens, what do we do? We start cussing.

Why does cussing relieve us of stress? I think that it reminds us of something better, in some way. It's something primal enough that we can't just express it in proper society, but at times of great stress it is of comfort to the hearts men.

So, as proof, what do we say? Personally, I seem to have a few levels:
Level 1 - damn
If something happens that I'd rather not happen, this is a good word. What? You're out of ice cream? Damn. That good-looking person is into boys/girls instead of you? Damn.
This reminds us of all of the fun stuff that proper society tells us that we can't do, like swearing or drinking or enjoying yourself.

Level 2 - shit
This goes beyond something that you'd rather not happen, and steps into something that has a discernible negative impact on you. Did you miss that train? Shit. Did you try to make a wonderful cake for your sweetie's birthday, and burn it instead? Shit.
This becomes a stress reliever when we think about how good we feel when we take a shit. There are times that I wind up feeling *so* much better for that. I'm lighter, and feel less pressure, and am less stressed. Heck, sometimes it's been such a good feeling that it almost crosses into the realm of spiritual.

Level 3 - fuck
Does this really need explanation?

Thinking about it this way makes it seem less condemning of bodies and sex. After all, these are the sources of feeling better when we're stressed!

... or, maybe I think about this sort of thing way, way too much.
Confluence of Kitchen and Kinkdietrich on June 9th, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
There is of course, "youuuu fucking pooface!"

D. Fennelfennel on June 9th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)
This thread prompted an offline discussion about whether "fuckface" had something to do with oral sex (in which case, not such a good insult) or if it was just a mean-sounding nonsense coinage (jackpot!).

We also, I think, concluded that there was a difference between "They really fucked us on that deal" and "My car is really fucked". The latter sense, where "fucked" kind of just means... what is it? Like, "subject to an overwhelming or disruptive force"? That isn't a problem for me in principle. The former type of "fuck" is only a problem because of the implication that if you do the fucking, you win, and if you are fucked, you lose.

Also: "asshat".
Yagayagagriswold on June 9th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
I am very fond of "asshat".
Jasonjd_trouble on June 9th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
I do try to avoid using labels and generalizations, and judge behaviors rather than people ie:
Standing in the doorway on the subway is engaging in douchebaggery rather than "Hey buddy, you're a douchbag."

Turning left from the right hand lane is rather idiotic (and dangerous) but I'd need a lot more evidence before I'd label that person a fool.

I like "Amazing", "Exceptional", "Astounding", neutral words which imply that I found an action to be worthy of note. They can be shaded either positively or negatively. I will probably adopt "advanced" in this catagory as well.

I still occasionally use "asshole", mostly when someone is spouting crap, dumping on people or exhibiting shitty (mean, selfish) behavior.
Keys and locks, roots and branchesomnia_mutantur on June 9th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
Bigot. It's nicely plosive.
Ashrising_moon on June 10th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
denigrating descriptors

...Was that deliberate? ;) I was trained out of saying "to make black" in any pejorative context, round about college in late-eighties Virginia.

Things I'll say easily and then feel some regret: lame, moron, bastard, wank, bugger, goddammit (rare), probably lots of other casual-end denigrations of whole swaths of human condition, belief, or behavior.

Things I'll say instead, if I have time to lift a filter, tend to be ridiculous exaggerations or compounds: asshat, jackass, bloody hell, apeshit, motherfucker, or, most often, just RAAARR!