Matters of Geez and Gosh and Justice

Warning: This post contains a great deal of profane language.

Watching Fixer Upper, where everyone’s reaction to their newly renovated home is “Oh my gosh” has me thinking about Boy Scout camp and matters of justice.

When I was at a Boy Scout camp about a thousand years ago–I think it was the now defunct O. A. Greager Scout Ranch in Western Colorado–there were a lot of rules involving earning feathers that would help your patrol, and eventually your troop, earn rewards, albeit usually in the form of more feathers.

One of the rules I had a hard time accepting was that “gosh” was acceptable as an expression of surprise/disgust, but “geez” was not. Uttering “gosh” would elicit no reaction, but uttering “geez” was treated as if the speaker had said “shit” or “fuck”.

The logic, as I understood it, was that “gosh” was far enough away from “God” that it did not count as a swear word. (Saying “God” in reaction to something earned demerits.) “Geez”, however, was considered too close to “Jesus” and therefore counted as taking the Lord’s name in vain and earned demerits.

My reaction to this logic was “That’s bullshit.”

Even if they assumed “Geez” was spelled “Jeez” it was still farther away from “Jesus” than “Gosh” was to “God” as the latter required fewer letter substitutions. However, the Scout Master at the time insisted that it was different because “Gosh” didn’t lead to “God” whereas “Geez” could easity lead to “Geezus H. Christ”.

My argument was that “Geez” was not “Jesus”. Only “Geezus” was “Jesus”. (These are the kinds of things that seem important to you right after you’ve earned demerits for saying “Geez”.)

Eventually we all got used to the arbitrary rules. I mean, geez, they were still bullshit, but we got used to the fuckers and no more demerits were earned, at least not by me, and at least not for swearing.

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