Penn & Teller, vaccines, and the reason for language

Penn & Teller’s show “Bullshit” is as good as it gets on TV these days, amidst an ocean of worthless, cookie-cutter “reality” tv shows and equally repetitive “who’s going to be the next star” type shows.

They’ve taken on many topics including pseudo-scientific ideas, paranormal beliefs, and popular fads and provided their flavor of debunking to each one.
In their 8th season finale, their latest episode, the duo tackles the dangerous Jenny McCarthy and her groupies of anti-vaxers with the truth about vaccines.

Now, I posted a little while ago about Mormons and rated-R movies and how stupid the whole thing is.
My argument then was related to how the church uses an almost random, third-party SECULAR set of standards to dictate what the sheep should avoid in the privacy of their own homes or at the nearest theater.

My other argument against all this unnecessary censoring is that “bad words” are just as part of our language as any other word, and thus a very important way of conveying a message; yes, even if that message is one of anger or distaste or hate or anything else.

Take Penn’s closing argument in this clip:

“So even if vaccination DID cause autism, WHICH IT FUCKING DOESN’T, anti-vaccination would still be bullshit!”

While the word “fuck” can be used in many ways as a direct insult towards someone (I do not condone insulting people, whether you use a curse word or not), the word “fucking” in this case was utterly necessary to convey Penn’s disgust with the idea that vaccines cause autism and those who believe such nonsense. Sure, he could have used a different word, perhaps, or reworded the entire thing to avoid cursing, but the message would’ve lost its poignant delivery and maybe failed to highlight the stupidity around the whole anti-vaxer “movement.”

It’s the difference between insulting someone with a curse word and simply being insulted by the existence of such word.

Take these two phrases as examples:

You are a fucking asshole!


I fucking hate that asshole (when used towards Glenn Beck)!

It is clear that both phrases use the same curse words, but in very different contexts it is also clear to see that the first phrase is very insulting, while the other is only stating a truthful and accurate observation.

8 comments to Penn & Teller, vaccines, and the reason for language

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>