Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath: Stand proud Kiwis and embrace the C-word


Last week Vrnda Torckler was told she had to leave her Mt Eden flat for swearing in front of her landlord. I don't know the full story. There is often more that comes out.

I do know that swearing is a part of what it is to be a New Zealander. We should be fiercely proud of our profanity. Foul language and uncouthness is how we first set ourselves apart from our colonial overlords.

We didn't have time for social graces. We had stuff to do. A nation to build and everyone knows you get more stuff done when you swear.

To quote Kerre Mclvor ... "the F-word. It's just so complete. Why do you think it's one of the first words toddlers pick up - to the horror of their parents? The 'uck' sound is just so satisfying".


Another great and satisfying word is the C-word. The F-word has become standard. For me the C-word is where it's at. It sounds good and refers to something incredible.

I've heard the F-word at wedding speeches, funerals, baptisms and all over kindergartens. It's fully accepted. The C-word is still a bit of a challenge for some. But I believe it defines us more.

I was talking to Australian comedian Jim Jefferies the other day. He loves how the C-word shocks Americans. To them the word is only used in anger. Whereas we Antipodeans use the word in a friendly way. In our two great nations the C-word brings people together. As in "what are you c's up to tonight?" Them's fighting words in the States; here it's pure endearment.

In our two great nations the C-word brings people together.

I was at a transtasman meeting recently. A New Zealander stood up and said, with a smile on his face, "You Aussie c's have too many meetings". Everyone laughed. Tensions were eased. The word brought us together.

So is the C-word offensive?

A bigger question is "does offence even exist?" I believe "taking offence" is simply trying to exert power over someone or something you don't like. Being offended doesn't cut your skin or break your bones. You can be offended and still live a fully-functional life. You choose to "take" offence. As Stephen Fry once said "taking offence it's actually nothing more ... than a whine. 'I find that offensive'. It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f-ng what."

Being offended by the C-word is particularly odd because of the important function its literal meaning has in the circle of life. It's as human a word as you will find. Maybe that's why it's rightly becoming a word of celebration.

So, if we all agree offence doesn't exist, what is the problem with swearing? People say there are smarter worlds you can use. So what? Some of us aren't trying to be clever. Why get out the thesaurus when there are three words that cover everything? Don't tell us we have to be clever. So someone got kicked out of their house for using the F-word. That seems a little out of step with the times. Society on the whole celebrates the word. But, for me, it is the C-word which defines us. It's fun to say and describes something great and positive. The C-word is becoming a term of endearment and that makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath is a breakfast radio host on Radio Hauraki, and a television producer, writer and director. He made a name for himself with Back of The Y Masterpiece Television, Balls of Steel UK and the feature film The Devil Dared Me To. Matt was guitarist and singer for the band Deja Voodoo which released two top twenty albums. He is currently a producer on Best Bits, a cricket commentator for The Alternative Commentary Collective, and the director of Vinewood Motion Graphics. Matt is a father of two living in Auckland City.

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