Read this %$!ing obscene post!


Last week, in Atheist Contempt For Judeo-Christian Values, I lamented how our culture is in a downward spiral. The increasing things in our culture seem to be:

  • Obscenities in our movies, games, books, music, media.
  • Pornography
  • Atheism

I think these increases are bad for society, in fact, I say these things, combined with a general amorality, will be the downfall of the west.

Now, if I’m right, if these things really are increasing, there should be evidence to support it, yeah? Otherwise, I’m just being a prude puritan, and these things have always existed at their current levels.

Good news: we’ve got some hard data to back this up.

For 6 years, Google has taken 5 million books (!) and turned them digital. Thanks to the internet and the ability to quickly search through millions of books in seconds, this lets us do some interesting experiments that would not have been possible in previous generations.

The experiment I want to run is on the obscenities used in pop culture in the last 100 years. And what better way to measure than than by looking at the common media form in use for this last century: books!

So, has obscenities increased in our books? Or is my prudish mind just imagining things?


Amusing, ain’t it? Up, up, and away! To Obscenity Boulevard we go!

Particularly amusing is the “s***” and “f***” lines (blue and red, respectively), showing a heavy increase in usage with the advent of the 1960s. It’s also worth noting a steady increase in all those obscenities since the 1960s.

That timing shouldn’t be surprising. As I wrote in Atheist Contempt,

In some ways, our current culture is an inheritance of the values of the 1960s: politically left, free love, drugs, free everything. But now the sexual liberation has been extended, and the “spirit in the sky” is now a myth of the ancients.

Sexual terminology, especially taboos, have likewise increased:


Rape has greatly increased. References to pornography has increased steadily since the 1960s, with a major increase during the 1980s. This timing may be explained by the invention of the internet, which put pornography at everyone’s fingertips.

The increase in references to homosexual terms is also interesting, picking up the largest gains since the 1980s, even more than pornography. The term “gay” increased as well, but there was already significant usage of that term prior to 1960s, due its alternate, innocuous meaning (“happy”).

Amusingly, the only one that hasn’t increased much is adultery, perhaps due to it being a longstanding and perhaps more common sin in western society. Or perhaps I’m just using the wrong search terms.

One thing is certain: obscenities and violence and sexuality is increasing in our pop culture, in our books, movies, music, games, and media. Our culture is in a downward spiral.

And if you don’t agree, you’re #!$%ing blind.


  1. Fascinating read, Judah. Well put, and very well thought out.

  2. Judah, I love you...but ummm, maybe a few well placed asterisks would have made this a good read with much to ponder, with much less cringe factor. (Am I showing my age???) Also, it would make it easier to recommend to my fellow prudish puritanical pals (triple alliteration--score!). Just a suggestion. :)

  3. Sorry, Allison, didn't you read the sign? No Prudes Allowed!


    I'll see what I can do.

  4. Judah - I've appreciated your posted for the last year now. However, I'm in agreement with Allison. By posting the F-bomb (for the second time in just a few posts), you are showing that you have allowed your purity to be measured on a sliding scale according to our secular culture. This is a challenge to be completely pure and blameless in your speech, as James speaks of in chapter 3. Proverbs is also a good reminder:

    "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breaking of the spirit." Proverbs 15:4

    The gauntlet has been thrown. Will you pick it up?

  5. Hmm.

    Guys, there is a difference between cursing and quoting another person cursing. Or between cursing and citing research which includes curse words.

    I've updated the post to include abbreviations for all words, except the charts, which are auto-generated images, and not text.

    Your impure, tainted-by-the-world author

  6. Hey...leave me out of this talk of sliding-scales, gauntlets and the difference between cursing and quoting! :) My point wasn't that you were cursing (though I understand diggery's view)...MY point was simply that my eyes hurt at unexpected profanity, and that some asterisks would help ease this prudish reader's eyes. Thank you for the asterisks.

  7. This brings up an interesting topic. Are words like the f-word, sh-word, etc, actually wrong or sinful? To those who think they are, do you say words like "crap"? I mean, what exactly makes them wrong in and of themselves? Or is it more a matter of how they are used?

  8. H*ly Bleep, Batman! What have you said? :P

    Just to register the minority opinion (my favorite theme), I wasn't particularly offended by the appearence of various "bombs" in your post, but then, I didn't become a believer until I was over 40 years old, so my secular and misspent youth must be showing.

    I think you mentioned this already, but the early stats for words like "gay" and "b*tch" are skewed because back in the day, they had different meanings (kind of like how a mule used to be called an *ss without anyone batting an eye).

    I can agree that the moral character of our nation and perhaps civilization worldwide is going downhill on a rocket, but we have to be careful with such comparisions. While say, in the 1930s, people were more hesitant, at least in "polite company", to say various "naughty words", white people in the south were lynching black people and women had "zip" civil rights, even in cases where they were clearly being mistreated by men, including their husbands.

    If we dig into some ancient civilizations, including during Biblical times, we can find more atrocities occuring then, than we find in the U.S. today

  9. "Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions." (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

  10. @Daniel,

    There's gray area, for sure, but obscenities are...well....obscene. :-)

    And I think they generally reflect a lack of self-control.

    The book of Proverbs has a lot to say on those who cannot control their tongues.

  11. There once was a man who, through autopsy research, discovered the function and regulation of the human heart.

    When he announced his findings, his colleagues promptly beat him for improper treatment of corpses.

  12. "The book of Proverbs has a lot to say on those who cannot control their tongues."


    Not sure if it was necessarily about swear/curse words (Hebrew doesn't have any - so Israelis today resort to using Yiddish or Arabic ones!), but if people are offended by your words, you may be doing something wrong (or right, depending on the context:).

    Anything out of control is bad. To curse someone (Judah, remember the fun cyber-curses post from a while back?) is bad (UNLESS it is G-d Himself or some prophet who is doing it:)

  13. Shalom Judah,

    I know that I commented on this before and your response was that you were just quoting someone. I couldn't get away with that excuse thirty years ago, but maybe it would fly today.

    My question for you: If you had been able to do this blog thirty years ago, would you have considered posting what you posted? My guess is no, because it would have been unacceptible.

    It is amazing what one can become accustomed to. Please take the high road since I think it more reflects your character.