I've known Eastern Europeans who were very impressed by the versatility of the word fuck. Not only does it just seem to roll right of the tongue, it can be used as almost any part of speech in the English language, noun-what a fuck, verb-obvious, adjective-fucking loser, adverb-fucking beautiful. It can even be used as an interjection in the middle of a word, "I work con-fucking-struction."
The word fuck comes from the German branch of the English language and is closely related to the modern German ficke. But by changing a single phoneme the word loses all of its power. "You are being such a ficking asshole!" Just doesn't have the same impact for us native English speakers. So it's really all about context.
Of all the dirty words in English, there's only one word that's really outside the pale and that word is cunt. Cunt, cunt, cunt, cunt. Cunt.
Cunt is just another word
When it comes to being cool under fire, I can't think of many better examples than the late, great Frank Zappa in this grilling on Crossfire, talking about words being just words.
What helps to anchor Frank Zappa (aside from the fact he is way more intelligent than his interlocutors) is that he has a very clear idea of what free speech really ought to be.
Frank Zappa: "I don't think music qualifies as pornography. And especially since this whole business started with words. We're talking about words here. All the complaints were about words."Zappa unflappably sticks to his guns despite being repeatedly accused of promoting, or at least condoning incest. Talk about a strawman.
Zappa: "Do you think you are protecting somebody by taking away seven words?"
Lofton: "It's not just words--"
Zappa: "It is words, it's about words."
Lofton: "Words also connote ideas, Mr Zappa, are you for songs that promote incest as just another kind of sex, and perhaps a preferable sex? Are you for that?"
Frank Zappa, you were truly a giant among us.
The fascist attempt to marginalize free speech, or just plain words, is as old as civilization. Whether it's Mellisa McEwen complaining about Richard's alleged misogynism and the c-word (and by c-word I mean cunt) in a pseudo-anonymous blog or Tipper Gore and the left-right coalition of assholes in the 80s US Congress wanting to regulate what words can be heard on a rock album, or the numerous examples throughout history, there will always exist people who want to control how you live and what you can say.
I'm not a huge fan of these people.