The difficulties are highlighted in a blog post for The Telegraph by Brendan O'Neill (5/25/2012). Evidently, the British Board of Film Classification is going for nuance, trying to distinguish between degrees of offensiveness of the word c**t. O'Neill writes:As the author notes:
As O'Neill further notes:If, as in Ken Loach's new movie The Angels' Share, the characters in a film say that word in an "aggressive" fashion, then the film will be stamped with an 18 certificate. But if they were to utter the c-word in a "non-aggressive" fashion, then the film could be granted a more lenient, box office-friendly 15 certificate...
…it isn't the language itself, the actual words, which terrifies the likes of the BBFC and other members of the great and good. It's the question of who is using those words and to what end. So certain uses of the c-word are now positively celebrated, with Sex and the City types and feminists uttering it as "a word of sexual potency". They rarely get any flak for describing the c-word as "a cherished part of [our] lexical armour". Likewise, when the ironic superhero film Kick-Ass showed an 11-year-old girl calling a group of men "c***s", there was, in the words of the Guardian, only a "half-hearted whimper from the Daily Mail" - everyone else thought that funky use of the c-word was hilarious and Kick-Ass got a 15 from those unelected defenders of common decency at the BBFC.
If it were just about the words, it would be completely mysterious why I can get away with discussing the infixation possibilities of the morpheme fuck in a linguistics class, but would propel my students straight to the dean's office if I ever handed back their assignments saying "I've marked your fucking papers".
This is what makes swearing such an exquisite skill, hard to master outside of one's native language. Swearing with just the right degree of coarseness is all about nuance.