Cussing is cool. More precisely, people who cuss are cool. At least, that’s what those doing the cussing want us to think.

Beto O’Rourke, one of the 20 or so Democrats running for president, flings about the f-word to show how frustrated and angry he is about mass shootings and government’s failure to do anything to reduce their toll.

His campaign even started selling T-shirts incorporating an O’Rourke quote with the f-word.

Cool, right? And edgy.

Except that it’s hard to view anything that has become as common as cussing as edgy.

Most of us have heard admonitions from parents, teachers and others in authority, telling us that using offensive language is a sign of laziness and a limited vocabulary.

I never bought that argument completely, but I would argue that cussing does nothing to elevate discussion of a controversial topic. Nor does crass language edify the people who, presumably, the speaker or writer wants to persuade.

Supporters might argue that when people such as O’Rourke use of the f-word and other objectionable language, it shows just how passionate they are.

They have feelings. They’re concerned. They’re mad. They are compelled to speak frankly.

But cussing doesn’t denote any of that. Not anymore.

Cussing is more likely to involve someone missing a free throw than murder. That robs it of any use it might have had once as a gauge of deep feelings.

It’s commonly overheard on TV (except on old-fashioned broadcast networks), at sports venues, in the workplace and even on children’s playgrounds.

Resorting to cussing once did count as a measure of anger or passion. I mark the end of that time as 2004. That was when then vice president Dick Cheney, fed up with attacks on Halliburton, the company that made him rich, told a Democratic critic to “(expletive deleted) himself.”

That was on the floor of the U.S. Senate, and the target of the suggestion was Sen. Patrick Leahy. It was uncommon and untoward, and news stories expressed surprise that Cheney would resort to foul language in such a setting.

Consider it the last gasp of sincere indignation. Cultural trends had been leading us to such a point for a long time.

Comedian George Carlin was among the many people in entertainment pushing us toward common use of foul language. Back in the 1970s, he became internationally known with his bit about the seven dirty words you can’t say on television.

That comedy routine eventually ended up before the Supreme Court, but the ruling was less important than the message it sent. Not only by Carlin but also by other comedians and radio “shock jocks” who followed. Their message was that nothing — no words, no insult, no degradation — was off limits.

Their low standards seeped into other aspects of entertainment, and after 30 or 40 years, low standards stopped being edgy.

I still find cussing in professional or public venues a matter of bad manners. It shows a lack of respect for those who might be offended. I mean, just because you can do something in public – passing gas, cleaning your toenails, picking your nose – doesn’t mean you should.

So as much of America adopts — and celebrates, really — what were once considered dirty words, some of us continue to consider cussing crass … and oh so common.

A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.