I was in a lively discussion where someone was proposing that profanity in writing can be a legitimate use of style, specifically profanity that is not a part of any characters dialog. I insisted that profanity reflects a lack of knowledge and ability with ones language.
With the hundreds of thousands of words that are available to the writer any idea can be expressed well with eloquence or power or any other attribute. But profanity does not have a direct meaning nor even a consistent indirect meaning leaving the reader in the dark about the writers message. In spoken language, the meaning of profanity (when it has a meaning) is most commonly indicated by the emphasis provided by the speaker. It may mean anger, disgust, frustration or simply indifference and the only indication is the mannerism of the speaker at the time of speaking the profanity.
With some speakers, every sentence is liberally sprinkled with profanity showing clearly that the profanity is just a filler used to maintain the speakers active position while they think of what they want to say. For example, with “like” as a filler one might say “You, like, want to, like, go to the, like, mall?” For the user of profanity, this would become “You fuckin’ want to fuckin’ go to the fuckin’ mall?”. Neither sentence sounds very intelligent.
Of course, in dialog, a sentence like the one of those above would be an effective way of describing one of the characters in the story as being somewhat unintelligent. But in the narrative portion of the story it is simply a display of incompetence.
I would love to hear the opinion of other readers and writers on this. Feel free to comment.