Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Insert Seven-Letter Epithet Here

In continuing my theme of words are important...
I was reading this excellent and interesting article about antipsychotics and their side effects when, toward the end, I was jarred from the article to give my full attention to figuring out what unpublishable word the Gray Lady was referring to with,
"There's nothing wrong with my head in the first place," he said to the judge, inserting a seven-letter epithet.
I wonder how many people resorted to counting the letters in curse words on their fingers when they got to that point. Surely, that seems counter-productive.
In general, I think The Times' policy that it is a family newspaper and so will never under any circumstances publish offensive words or quotes is pretty ridiculous. Especially considering that so much of the actual news it prints is pretty offensive (Spitzer, ahem, Spitzer). Which is not to say that I think the newspaper should start using expletives all the time, but I don't see why it should go out of its way in quotes to avoid expletives. 
And I found this article in defense of using the n-word (a word I certainly don't take lightly but also don't think should be avoided if it's pivotal to the story) fascinating. I especially liked:
You probably can guess where I stand on this. Admittedly, I'm a biased party—a writer with a vendetta against words, is an archer who resents arrows, or a quarterback who begrudges pass patterns. I would speak in defense of virtually any word's right to be used in the proper context.


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