The Architect

(This is a transcript of Al Stefanelli’s “Voice Of Reason” segment on my American Heathen® Internet Radio Show)

I am wordsmith. An architect of thoughts, plying my trade through the free exchange of ideas between the different facets that make up my concept of self. With due respect to the classically trained, I don’t reason there is a right way or wrong to build using words, and I also reason there are no words that should never be used.

A cursory glance down the streets of many cities and towns reveal the tried and true, angular construction that is so prevalent in our buildings. The materials are mass produced, wood, glass, brick, and mortar. Every now and then, though, you see the unusual, the odd building that is not shaped like the rest, or that is made of something that isn’t normally used as construction material.

We marvel at round houses, homes built in trees, made of beer bottles and hubcaps, and we even stop and stare at the roadside eyesores that look like they fell out of an episode of “Hoarders,” but are designed that way, intentionally. For whatever lines these structures run, and to what end our tastes demand what we perceive as aesthetic, we are attracted to them. And the architects know this. It is why they build them, and they are not constrained in their ideas.

I view writing the same way. There are certain rules that must be followed. This is true for even the Frank Lloyd Wright’s of the world. A building, any building, must have structure and load-bearing members. But after that, all bets are off. I do this because, like the architect, I have a different purpose for what I write. Not every building is suited for every use, and not every style is suited for every subject.

Thus, there is nothing that is placed outside of purpose, especially words, and what words I use depend on what message I am trying to convey. This is why I have such a problem with censorship. I would just as soon see Vincent Van Gogh censored as I would any artist, and the same goes for any wordsmith.

It’s one of the reasons I admired George Carlin so much. Do you remember his shtick back in the 1970’s, the one where he listed seven words that you would never, ever hear on television? Well, here we are, thirty years later, and you still won’t hear the words “shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker or tits” on NBC, CBS or ABC. Some of the cable networks have allowed them, but only recently.

What saddens me is that there is a movement within the freethought community to censor words, just for the sake of their existence – giving no thought to context. There are words that have been deemed simply too offensive to even utter, and that, as a wordsmith, I have a huge problem with, because it reminds me of a certain religion that has a prophet that depicting an image of is too offensive to even draw. It makes me wonder if heads will start being chopped off if someone simply speaks the words, “Picture of Muhammad,” because it elicits a mental image.

Don’t even get me started on phrases like, ‘the n-word’ or whatever word people want to describe in similar fashion. If I mean to say something, I am going to use the word, not a rendition of the word. It reminds of the Christian who says, “Well, Sally is such a b.” For fuck’s sake, if you think Sally is a bitch, then just call Sally a bitch, and move on. We know what you mean, and using a letter in place of a word does NOT make you a better person.

Trying to change attitudes by force-feeding people different words that carry the same meanings is just plain stupid. It’s like building a facade over an existing building. It’s still the same on the inside, still has the same inner walls, structure and design.

I am a wordsmith. An architect. I will use whatever words I choose to build with, and it is your choice to drive by and bitch about how ugly the building is, or drive around town to find other things I’ve built. Either way, your choice. Just know, in any given room you’ll likely find an old record player, with a scratchy recording of a familiar voice, saying, “shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits,” and sometimes even “fart, turd or twat

10 thoughts on “The Architect

  1. Ferchrissake, Al. You pretentious ass, you’re not a “wordsmith” or a goddamn “architect”. You’re a silly little blogger with a handful of deluded fans. Your choice to use the word “bitch” on your blog doesn’t magically elevate you to the rank of “wordsmith”, much less to the rank of valiant “hero” fighting against the would-be censors.

  2. Ophelia Benson, on her blog “Butterflies & Wheels” over at Freethought Blogs, has written an entire post in response to this post. Fine, we appreciate the hits.

    However, (and I stated this in a comment that at this time is in ‘moderation’), her insistence that the word ‘bitch’ is on par with racial or ethnic slurs is ridiculous.

    She proceeds to list a litany of racial and ethnic slurs, but seems to fail to understand that these words are used as pejoratives toward someone who is born that way.

    Nobody is born a bitch, unless you’re referring to a female dog. By the way, I find it amusing that she is more than willing to use those words.

    Oh, wait. That would be ‘context.’ Nevermind.

    You can read her blog here:


  3. “hotshoe” – just another lame-ass who’s evidently afraid to use his/her own name. By what authority do you have the right to conclude that Al’s comments don’t qualify him as an “architect of words”? Why should anyone respect your opinion on that issue? You’ve not provided any reason I can discern.

    I’m surprised your pitiful “comment” – which is just a pointless ad hominem attack on Al – made it through moderation, here. It’s a testament to RJ’s patience, I suppose. Freedom and liberty for ALL even includes you!

  4. Carlin never argued for the gratuitous use of language; on the contrary his intent was to make use of language in a way that gets a message across; that it’s not the words which are offensive, its the way in which the words are used that can be offensive.

    If your message is “women who stand up for their rights are bitches” that’s no different than”black people who stand up for their rights are niggers”. Too often these days that does seem to be the message being sent to feminists in the atheist community…

  5. I enjoyed this post and the crazy replies made me laugh. I am a Hispanic female, born in Mexico, raised south of the border (but married to a Gringo), which would make me a goddamn wetback spic and a bitch. Double whammy! I’m also an atheist so I’ve been called worse and it always makes me laugh! I have ZERO hang-ups with my racial identity and I constantly poke fun at myself, at my overly religious comadres and at the delightful quirks in the glorious Mexican American community. Yes, I CAN do it ’cause I’m one of ’em!

    I LOVE the English language and I read atheist blogs to give me the language I need to engage in arguments with my comadres. I have enough tongue for ten rows of teeth and I’m constantly arguing atheism in Spanish. I can translate the arguments into Spanish and understand the reasoning but I absolutely crave the rhythm, the poetry, the explosion of meanings, the pinch of sarcasm, the building of words, in English.

    I too have been censored by the “Hurt Feelings Police” for using words/expressions like “squirting bellyfruit”, capacious vaginal dimensions, semen demons, Fundamngelical, wide-eyed Christoholic, Mormon haircut, crotch droppings, baby-addicted mother, Christian kidbots, hysterical breeding using a hydraulic pump and a revolving door, the Dead-Guy-On-A-Stick (Jesus), etc., all in reference to creepy Dominionists like Frau Michelle Duggar of Arkansas.

    I AVOID atheist blogs with politically correct, humorless, dour, moderators who believe in serving a slice of Kumbaya pie with a dollop of delusion so as to accommodate religionistas who are clearly two sandwiches short of a picnic. Now, I’m not saying that I’m not as crazy as an acre of snakes but I believe in allowing expressions, ideas, blasphemy, even if it ticks someone to the point of making them lock themselves inside their prayer closet…as long as they are not strapped to explosives. I took my daughter to Israel and Jordan this summer on a back packing trip. We both came back with an appreciation for freedom of speech and glad that in this country, no one has the right not to be offended.

    Thank you, Mr. Stefanelli!!!!

  6. “It saddens me is that there is a movement within the freethought community to censor words, just for the sake of their existence – giving no thought to context.”

    Your whole piece is centered on this premise, yet I’ve seen no evidence of such censorship taking place. Please provide some quotes, links or any other evidence that this might be a problem.

  7. Three examples should suffice, that indicate there is a movement seeking to censor words for the sake of their existence. Why be coy?

  8. I guess I was being coy as well. I’m not trying to bait you into some flame war; I just haven’t seen that and want to know what you consider censorship, and more specifically, censorship of words for the very sake of their existence. I’m hoping that you don’t consider such idiosynchratic things like comment moderation to be censorship. Surely you do not.

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