In my continuing efforts to explore the power of words -- and to offend just about everyone I know -- allow me to offer my rules for the use of cuss words. (Because, if we're going to cuss, we may as well do it with intelligence and integrity, yes?)
1) Do not cuss in front of children or teenagers who behave like children. They copy everything they hear and do not have the maturity to execute the task artfully. Plus, we want their primary language to be clean, for reasons delineated below.
2) Do not cuss in front of religious people unless they cuss in front of you first. Unfortunately, even in the population where grace should dominate, there are those who, the moment they hear a cuss word out of your mouth, will knock you down ten degrees in their estimation and then be on the lookout for every other fault you may have to discredit you. Their problem, not yours -- agreed. But if you are one who wants to have an impact on even these, you need to maintain their respect.
3) Do not use cuss words that refer to sexual activity or anatomy. They are simply vulgar. They take a beautiful gift from God and drag it through mud and stench.
4) Do not use God's name -- any of His names -- as cuss words. This is disrespectful enough to be one of the Big Ten. Even if you aren't a believer, you want to have respect for those around you for whom this is painfully offensive.
5) Do not use cuss words as "sentence enhancers", as Spongebob calls them. We all know people who can hardly get two sentences of conversation out without an off-color word thrown in. Such casual use strips the words of their power; they end up going the way of "awesome" and "epic", excellent words that are all but meaningless anymore. Plus, it is indicative of a small, lazy mind. Seriously -- get a vocabulary, dude.
6) If you are a person who finds that cuss words fall out of your mouth uncontrollably, without your even thinking about it, get a grip and fix that. Do not allow yourself to be enslaved to any unwholesome behavior. That's a danger signal you shouldn't ignore. Control your tongue -- do not let it control you.
7) Do not throw cuss words in for shock value. Shock is cheap and short-lived; strive instead to impact.
8) Avoid using substitutionary words in situations where it's clear you're simply scrounging for a substitute (e.g. What the frick . . ?) It just sounds awkward and strange.
9) When using cuss words, use them to express intensity or outrage in a controlled manner. Use them calmly, confident that they do not need to be shouted to be effective. In fact, shouting your cuss words lessens their impact -- they sound like an irrational explosion that is of no consequence. And when the use of such words is appropriate, do not shy away from using them.
10) And above all, use them grammatically and spell them correctly. "Damn" has an "n", people.