Please stop asking me to “tone down” the language

I got another email today from a new fan of the show who felt that my use of language was preventing him from being able to tell friends about it, and that I would be better off not swearing at all:

I think it’s a pretty cool serving for young and or less discerning people but if I can make a suggestion, if you slow down on talking speed (this will allow you to choose your words more carefully) and the swearing (I have wanted to introduce your podcast to some friends but had to be careful about who as it contains bad language. It’s difficult enough to convince religious opponents without still attacking their idea of moral language

That’s EXACTLY the reason why I swear. The whole idea of “moral language” is just Victorian era bullshit that I have no time for. That’s why I’ve let Stephen Fry make the case for me. I will never stop swearing, and there’s nothing anyone can say that will convince me of it. You might as well make me shave my eyebrows off so they stop scaring little children!

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Comments (29)

  • avatar

    L.Long

    I can honestly say I have never heard you swear on your show! You do use language some deluded people think of as ‘not appropriate’. These people are under a dual delusion…
    1-they think ‘shucks’ sound ‘cleaner’ then ‘shit’ & I have never understood this concept.
    2-That when you say ‘shucks’ the delicate young’en hearing this doesn’t instantly put shit in its place.

    I wonder where the writer lives that anyone over the age of 10 doesn’t know ALL the WORDS???

  • avatar

    Eddie

    A point well made there by Mr. Fry. Makes me wish that he did more work on this side of the Atlantic.

    I will give the author of that email some advice, though:
    1.Pull the stick out of your ass
    2.Give it a good whiff and realize that your shit does indeed stink
    3.Recommend the podcast to your friends anyways

    Jacob’s angry, profanity-laced rants about the evils of the world are the reason that I continue to listen twice a week. If someone else doesn’t like it, fuck ‘em.

  • avatar

    GOldenarms

    was that House at the end there?

  • avatar

    Richard

    GoldenArms… “A Bit of Fry and Laurie.” Youtube it, you’re life will forever be enriched.

    As for the topic at hand, it would be one thing for people to say: “I don’t like to swear” but that’s never the case as we see with this person, they always need to make you stop swearing. I’d be surprised to see Jake, or indeed catch myself telling other people to swear, so why they think it’s okay to tell us not to is beyond me. I guess it goes back to thinking that there is something wrong with swearing. They just refuse to accept that that is bullshit.

  • avatar

    Rob El

    Nah, fuck that, your swearing is what makes me laugh my ass off. Something other podcasts don’t make me do, but then again I’m from Australia….

  • avatar

    MightyFooda

    Just use “smurf” to replace any swearing that you might feel inclined to use. “That smurfin smurf was over my house last night and smurfed her over the smurf then I smurfed her right in the smurf with my smurf!” The only people who anyone should give a rats ass about not swearing in front of is your mom and your grandparents. Everyone else, fuckem in the smurf.

  • avatar

    Darren Taggart

    Yeah, tell the cunt to bastard off. Shitty cum flaps.

  • avatar

    nick

    I adore the fact that some people take swearing so seriously. They give the vague collection of sounds much more strength and power than they would normally have.

  • avatar

    Jim

    My fucking oath!

  • avatar

    Michael

    We’re to not use certain words becausre they’re taboo. We are to spare others feelings. However, it is the very act of not using these words that makes them taboo. Essentially, they become arbitrarily offensive.

  • avatar

    jeannie

    your eyebrows scare little children?

  • avatar

    Arianna Jarvis

    Fuck ‘em.

  • avatar

    Michael Beares

    If you have Netflix the 4 seasons of a bit of fry and Laurie are on there me and my wife watch them all the time. Stephen fry rocks.

  • avatar

    Robotaholic

    I fucking love your motherfucking podcast you fucker!

  • avatar

    Will Rodbourne

    Here fucking here!

  • avatar

    Justin Nitsuj

    George Carlin does a lot of stuff about language which I think is absolute genius, whether it be about euphemisms or “bad” language or forbidden language. I suggest people search youtube for it.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    I find it interesting that you used this particular video in defence of your swearing because other than the comedy clips, Stephen swore a grand total of once during the video. Imagine that, a calm, rational, intelligent discussion about swearing’s place in society that correctly used profanity for dramatic effect and actually provided the intended impact.

    If this had been a video done by you there would have been at least 10 fucks, half a dozen mother fuckers, a smattering of shits, and you probably would have called someone a pussy.

    But here’s Jake, throwing a little tantrum (I will never stop swearing, and there’s nothing anyone can say that will convince me of it.) because people are asking him to stop being as fucking annoying as the punk ass Fourteen year olds at the back of the bus thinking they be all Gansta’ cause they be dropping the f-bomb every other word.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the show and I agree with a lot of what you say but dude, really, it’s starting to getting emotionally draining listening to your shit; as it stands now I couldn’t imagine listening to the pedantic swear fest twice a week. Honestly I’ve started tuning you out and only really start paying attention when Ryan, Jeffrey, or Carissa say something, at least they know how to make a coherent sentence without sounding like a petulant child who thinks its cool to swear excessively because mommy and daddy aren’t around.

    I *really* want to support you because I *do* often agree with you. But Jake, you reach for the profanity button way too often and its diluting your overall message and needlessly limiting your audience.

    No one is saying you can’t swear, by all means swear, everyone swears and I even encourage you to swear for effect. Hell, I’ve been known to swear up a blue streak from time to time. What I am saying is that you haven’t been an annoying teenager in twelve years, its about time you grew up and stopped talking like one.

    Pete…

    PS: Questions:

    * Do you talk like this around any young nieces, nephews or cousins you might have?
    * When you were working did you talk like this on the job?
    * Are there any instances where you limit your swearing, or times you don’t even swear at all?
    * Do you feel that there is a time or place where swearing *isn’t* appropriate?

  • avatar

    AJ Buwalda

    @WCLPETER

    If you can’t take the strong language and its draining for you, than maybe this show isn’t for you. I personally enjoy Jake as he is very much. You see, he is alot like me in that he gets kind of heated when talking about this kind of stuff. That’s why TGA is my favorite podcast together with Atheist News and Chariots of Iron. They are balls to the wall, fuck what you think of me ass kickers. This is not for everybody and that’s fine, but don’t tell people to change because its not YOUR personal style.

  • avatar

    Darren

    Hey Pete, you should try and be more patronising. People won’t get that you’re very mature and grown up when you pussy foot around the issue.
    The ‘graver than thou’ thing is boring, particularly when its about something like a podcast. Stories like priests raping children and mad women hanging their nephew’s dog would tend to illicit a strongly worded analysis from most people.

    Since you’re all against swearing to the point that you feel the need to write to Jake seeking a change of behaviour, I expect you to have written in a similar vain to the catholic church pointing out their short comings, before bothering the makers of a podcast that probably cost you nothing lest you be accused of lacking entirely a sense of perspective… Rant rant rant

  • avatar

    I evolved from an ape, whats your excuse?

    Yeah, I think the moral of the story here is teach kids when its appropriate to swear and don’t be so unrealistic about swearing, their just words for crying out loud.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Apparently, Old Pete here knows exactly the kind of swearing ratio that makes a person bearable to listen to. It’s amazing how perceptive he is. He must be a real adult!

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    AJ BUWALDA,
    ———-

    “If you can’t take the strong language and its draining for you, than maybe this show isn’t for you.”

    The thing is I *like* the show. I find myself, more often than not, agreeing with much of what Jake, Ryan, Jeff, and Carissa say.

    “I personally enjoy Jake as he is very much.”

    I also enjoy Jake’s insights and ideas, that’s not what I’m trying to address.

    “This is not for everybody and that’s fine, but don’t tell people to change because its not YOUR personal style.”

    I’m not asking Jake to change. I’m asking Jake to be more professional in his choice of language, there is a big difference. He can be the dickish, boorish, angry, feisty atheist all he wants, in fact its one of the reasons I like the show! But I’m also not going to shy away from pointing out that his choice of language could not only give a misguided impression of atheism to outside viewers it is also incredibly fucking annoying.

    Just like it’d be like so like annoying like if he said like the word like like almost every like other word.
    Just like okay, it’d be so annoying okay if he said the word okay every other word, okay?
    Just like umm, it’d be umm so annoying, umm if he said umm the word umm every other umm word.
    Just like it’d be fucking annoying if he fucking said fuck almost every other mother fucking word.

    Its not about the swearing, re-read my original comment, its NOT about the swearing. Its about the frequency of the swearing, its about the fact that he’s swearing so fucking much you can’t pay attention to what he’s trying to say, just like you’d have a hard time following a public speaker who spent half the speech going “Umm, yeah, so umm, I’m going to talk about umm, something here that umm is really umm important and umm I’m sure you’re going to umm enjoy it.”

    If the only thing a person remembers after listening to another person talks is how much they said “umm” or used the same descriptive words over and over again he’s failing at his job and someone, just like the original letter writer, *needs* to put down the “we love Jake just as he is” kool-aid and point that out.

    Darren,
    ——

    “Hey Pete, you should try and be more patronizing. People won’t get that you’re very mature and grown up when you pussy foot around the issue.”

    Have you listened to the show? Jake doesn’t do pussy footing and being nice isn’t his style. He’s quick to engage in long winded profane tirades on just about anyone he doesn’t agree with, or those who do something he thinks is monumentally stupid.

    I, and obviously the original letter writer, think he’s making a mistake with his poor choice of vocabulary. Personally I think it makes him look like a petulant teenager and makes us look bad, I think its important to call him out on it much in the same way he calls out others for their poor behaviour choices.

    “Since you’re all against swearing…”

    Did you read my original article at all? Where did I say I was against all swearing? It certainly wasn’t here:

    /* No one is saying you can’t swear, by all means swear, everyone swears and I even encourage you to swear for effect. Hell, I’ve been known to swear up a blue streak from time to time. */

    Not against *all* swearing, I am against annoyingly excessive swearing. There is a difference, learn to recognize it.

    “particularly when its about something like a podcast.”

    How could you miss the PBS style pledge drive at the end of every show? /* Obvious use of paraphrasing */ “For just 20 bucks you can be a gold member and get access to the bonus show. We’re also gonna use this money so we can do this atheism thing full time so I can work on my book, travel, and try to do some more interviews and speaking engagements, etc, etc, etc…”

    This *isn’t* just a podcast anymore, its Jake’s job. He does this for a living. He’s taking other atheist’s money and has self proclaimed himself as being one of Atheism’s spokespeople.

    As one of our spokespeople what he says is a reflection on all of us, he has a duty of care to not be a dick and needlessly fuck up our image with a bad case of the potty mouth; people already think less of atheists as it is we do *not* need to give them another reason to do so.

    Try to remember, this isn’t a podcast anymore. Its Jake’s job. He represents us. There is nothing wrong with the fans asking, or expecting, him to represent us in a professional manner.

    “before bothering the makers of a podcast that probably cost you nothing”

    Now I’ll admit I haven’t donated yet due to personal financial issues but I *do* want to donate, just because I don’t agree with him on this issue doesn’t mean I disagree with what he’s trying to do in general.

    I EVOLVED FROM AN APE, WHATS YOUR EXCUSE?,
    ————————————-

    “their just words for crying out loud.”

    Words have power and meaning, its why we as a species invented language in the first place. There is a certain cultural meaning that is invoked whenever someone uses a word considered to be “obscene” that some people will take personal offence to, or simply find annoying when its used too much.

    Jake’s language doesn’t offend you but it likely offended the person who e-mailed him, why bother to go to the trouble of sending an e-mail otherwise. It doesn’t offend me, but I do find it really annoying for the reasons I stated above and I rightly called him out on it; isn’t he the one always asking for comments about the shows?

    JACOB FORTIN,
    ———–

    “He must be a real adult!”

    More than you have been in this situation.

    In Episode 119 you and Carissa talked about an experience you had when you were a boss at work; I *do* pay attention. One of your co-workers liked to use the term “faggot” or “fag” quite often. You explained, at length, that because of your friendship with Jeff you had gained a deeper understanding of the issues affecting GLBT people and became deeply offended by your coworker’s usage of the those words.

    You rightly called him out on it, and not just because you were the boss, and managed to get him to change his behaviour to such a degree that he apologized for an accidental slip up. Pats on the back were given all around. But it appears that this compassion for the feelings of others goes out the window when the roles are reversed.

    This particular fan went out of his way to write you with some criticism of the show regarding your choice of language and how it was being perceived, but did you handle it like a mature, responsible, adult? Did you mull it over and try to see the perspective of the other person? Did you even consider his request to “slow down on talking speed (this will allow you to choose your words more carefully) and the swearing”? Take note he didn’t ask you to STOP swearing, just to slow down a bit.

    Not at all. Instead you posted an infantile rant telling people to stop asking you to change your language, basically discounted the fan’s feelings and essentially told him they didn’t matter because it’s all “Victorian era bullshit I have no time for”, and then threw a tantrum stating you would never change no matter what.

    So let’s recap shall we:

    * If Jake is in some way offended or annoyed by our language we all need to change our behaviour and stop using it.
    * If Jake’s language in some way offends or annoys us we can all go fuck ourselves and shut the fuck up about it, he will never change and it’s fucking annoying that we keep asking him to.

    Don’t you just love those hypocritical double standards?

  • avatar

    AJ Buwalda

    “I’m not asking Jake to change. I’m asking Jake to be more professional in his choice of language, there is a big difference.”

    I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. THAT IS CHANGE! And what you deem professional is irrelefant. So if you don’t enjoy it the way its presented than you should find one that better suits your taste.

  • avatar

    Will Rodbourne

    This is clearly a podcast aimed at adults, not children. So the point about whether one would swear in front of one’s neices and nephews is moot. It’s an entirely different situation and OF COURSE people modify the way they talk depending on who’s listening – but that doesn’t mean that because one (presumably) wouldn’t swear in front of, say, a judge at trial then that is how one should behave in private with friends.

    And that’s how I view this podcast: Jake comes across as though he’s talking amongst friends. For me, the swearing represents that his guard is somewhat down, he’s relaxed, really speaking his mind and he trusts us, the audience.

    Compare and contrast with the sanitised banality of most TV and radio shows – there’s a professional barrier between host and audience. It’s clear that the language and opinions have been moderated to ensure that the shows can have a wide appeal.

    To come back to the specific point of Stephen Fry only swearing once in the interview – clearly he’s very calm there and again he’s tailored it for the intended audience. It’s aimed squarely at those middle class people who think that swearing is bad, and so the best way to convince them of his viewpoint is to be very careful of the swearing he uses in his argument. Now, if he were ranting about a deeply impassioned subject and talking to a far more self-selected audience (i.e. people choosing to go to the effort of downloading a podcast) then I think his language would involve more curse-words.

    And there’s quite a big difference between the words ‘faggot’ and ‘fuck’. One is discriminatory and has a history of being filled with hate and bigotry, the other is just another word for love-making.
    (although ‘faggot’ and ‘fag’ are funny examples of bad language for an englishman like me – the former is a pork meatball and the latter a cigarette!)

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Wow, Pete, that’s quite a long tirade. I think most of the other fans summed it up pretty nicely, but if there’s something to add, it’s simply that I don’t feel it’s necessary to submit to what YOU think appropriate is. If I’m on a rant about the Catholic Church raping kids, the word fuck is going to just happen. It’s me talking like I normally do, and I don’t have any interest in sanitizing my show just because some atheists would be offended or annoyed.

    The people who support me may be non-believers, but they are more than that. They are people who like the show the way it is, and more importantly, I like doing it that way. It seems strange to me that you make a distinction in terms of how many “fucks” per minute, when clearly for most people, simply one use is enough to turn them red in the face. I want to shock people. I want them to feel uncomfortable. The subjects that I talk about aren’t nice and polite, so I don’t feel the need to be that either. I appreciate the fact that you’ve thought of being a patron Pete, and I also appreciate all the work, links and effort you put in. Even your suggestions are often good, but in this instance, I have to disagree.

    Anyways, since you’re broke financially and you’ve been generating such a fine discussion, I’ve upgraded your account to gold for the next 2 months. You can enjoy the shows for free until you have a bit more luck financially. Consider it hush money, lol

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    WCLPeter, you’ll need to create a Freebie account first before I can.

  • avatar

    Michael

    What a wonderful world we live in where which words you say is more important than actual morality. “What’s that you say?!?! There are thousands of children dying of starvation in Africa?!?! Meh. I can live with that thought without exuthing indignance”

    “WHAT’S THAT?!?! A curse word. I’m sooooooo offended. I’ll choose this moment to make my last hoorah! Why’s that? Because it’s easier to adhere to shallow niceties rather than actually being a moral human being!”

  • avatar

    I evolved from an ape, whats your excuse?

    I still say words are nothing more than sounds. The power that words have isn’t found in the word itself, it’s found in the persons response to the word. If I said Fuck 1000 times to 1000 people i’m sure there would be mixed results as to their respective responses but the point still is that it’s your own perception that makes words have power.

    Oh and WLCPETER, way to take issue and retort to everyone on the posting, i’m sure we were all just waiting here thinking jeez I need someone to set me straight.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    Jacob,

    “They are people who like the show the way it is, and more importantly, I like doing it that way. It seems strange to me that you make a distinction in terms of how many “fucks” per minute, when clearly for most people, simply one use is enough to turn them red in the face.”

    One of the reasons I like the show is that you’re *not* conventional. You say what’s on your mind, which is what is often on my mind, and if the odd swear word shows up well, its all par for the course. As a fan from podcast number one, I’ve kept them all too, I have invested quite a lot of time on you so I’m amused by people telling me “go away” (paraphrased obviously) if I don’t like what you’re doing when I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t like what you’re doing!

    I *expect* you to throw the odd fuck, fucker, motherfucker, bullshit, etc, etc, etc… into the show, its what give it its edge and, my ranting anger fits aside, I *do* enjoy that aspect of the show.

    The problem though, and its one touched on by the fan who wrote the e-mail, is that sometimes you go “too far”. When you’re *really* worked up and you’re moving at a good clip “fuck” becomes your “umm”. And you use it, a lot.

    When you take your time you are an amazingly eloquent speaker who knows how to place profanity in a sentence for maximum effect, no one but the most prudish is going to be all that offended by the language you use, but when you’re really worked up its just “Fuck fuck fuckity fucking motherfuckers”. Its hard to follow and turns some people off. I’m not saying change the tone of the show, I LOVE the show as it is, I’m saying that you have an issue with this one aspect of the show and you need to realize that while most people can handle the odd “fuck” here and there, many people are going to be turned off by a rambling guy who can’t stop saying fuck screaming in their ears.

    “Anyways, since you’re broke financially and you’ve been generating such a fine discussion, I’ve upgraded your account to gold for the next 2 months. You can enjoy the shows for free until you have a bit more luck financially. Consider it hush money, lol”

    I hope you don’t think that’s why I was commenting, I was simply upset with the cavalier way you disregarded the fan. I also realize I was over the top, I needed some time to cool down and look at it rationally, and I’d like to apologize for calling you a child and insulting you like that; it really was uncalled for.

    That being said, I don’t need your hush money. ;-) I’m okay with waiting a while to get the bonus shows, I only get about 20 minutes a day over lunch to listen and with your shows now going over an hour its taking me 3 -4 days to get through them (that mailbag show was a killer, I’m seven weeks behind now!), though I did sign up with a Freebie account so I can have my cool avatar picture. :-) However if you do still feel the need to “bribe” me you could always make sure I get the Bonus Show of your long anticipated interview with Greydon Square; I hate rap but I love this guy, bought all three albums and listen to them constantly.

    Pete…

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