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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Necessary Profanity

posted by on August 7 at 13:30 PM

Newscat, a blogger out of Washington, D.C., noticed that Slate has begun bleeping out swearwords on its podcasts.

But who is listening to a Slate podcast who is going to be outraged by the occasional swear word? If you are choosing to download a podcast that presumes a level of technical sophistication. It’s not a lot of technical sophistication, but listening to podcasts aren’t quite the same as turning on a radio. You might still be 10 years old but is the swear word really going to be the worst thing you download? (And do 10 year olds download Slate podcasts?) But even for adults there is a degree of thought and choice when one downloads something and then decides to listen to it. You are kind of signing up for what you are about to listen to.

The reason I bring up the 10-year-old example is because I’m trying to decipher who Slate is *not* swearing for? Are they not swearing for the children? Or are they not swearing for the adults? I’m almost more offended by their not swearing than I would be by the occasional “fuck” or “shit” that is let fly. The bleeping of a podcast tends to call attention to itself. It’s marks itself as a deliberate choice of censorship, YOU ARE NOT TO HEAR THIS.

Exactly. As a reader and an adult—and, admittedly, an habitual over-user of profanity—it annoys the fucking shit out of me when newspaper editors and writers step in to protect my delicate sensibility with patronizing phrases like, “the president used a barnyard epithet,” instead of, “the president called the reporter an asshole,” or worse yet, things like “f***,” and, “s***.” Back to Newscat…

There is certainly no reason to gratuitously swear on a podcast just like I could make a blog post that is nothing but swear words. But that wouldn’t exactly make my point or my words all that much better to read. But there’s something priggish about Slate’s editorial decision to pretend its actually going to adhere to the standards of radio. Why? This feels like a decision that was made using old-media as the model and not thinking about the options of choice and selection and audience. I don’t think there’s a phrase that is more patronizing than “family friendly media outlet.” After all, it’s not as if Slate enforces a “no swearing in print” rule either.

If I were setting Slate’s editorial policy on swearing during podcasts, I would use this rule. “Swearing is generally discouraged, but if you use the occasional expletive, please use it sparingly.”

In other words, get to the fucking point without swearing if you can.

Right fucking on.

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in other news: horse beaten to death.

Posted by kerri harrop | August 7, 2007 1:46 PM

Slate wants to go mainstream. That's probably the likely motive for bleeping swear words.

Posted by Gomez | August 7, 2007 1:48 PM

As annoying as "f***" and "s***" are, I go positively apoplectic when people type "f*ck" or "sh*t." That wouldn't fool a five year old so what's the goddamn point?

Posted by Matt from Denver | August 7, 2007 1:48 PM

I hate bleeps. It drives me fucking bananas when they bleep out words on The Daily Show for the same reasons. A cable show at 10 pm (central)?!?! If you are so afraid of your little children hearing the dreaded F word, TURN OFF THE FUCKING TV!!!

That is one of the things I love about my Sirius Radio. Not that I just love to hear people curse, but it is nice to hear a song the way the artist intended. It just so happens that the kind of music I like has a lot of swearing in it...

Ok, I feel better now.

Posted by Mike in MO | August 7, 2007 1:52 PM

I remember a few years back, Charlize Theron was on the Daily Show to promote Monster, and the clip they showed for it was about 80% profanity. They, of course, bleeped it all out, and the scene was barely comprehensible. So absurd.

Posted by Gloria | August 7, 2007 2:49 PM

Frankly, I'm of the opinion that the FCC should just let people swear on broadcast radio and TV. There's never been a point in our nation's history when people haven't sworn often and loudly, and it's the worst form of hypocrisy to act like you get the vapors if someone portraying a sailor utters a swear word, when you know that real sailors use "fuck" like a comma. Hell, I thought it was ridiculous that my husband scolded me for swearing in the childrens' section of Barnes and Noble yesterday.

Posted by Gitai | August 7, 2007 3:10 PM

I learned all the important curse words (fuck, shit, damn, hell, cunt, pussy, cock, etc) in the 7th grade. That was 1979.

So really, in this day and age, what exactly do we think we're actually protecting kids from, anyway?

Posted by monkey | August 7, 2007 3:23 PM

they're probably trying to innoculate themselves against the latest pearl-clutching right-wing smear: "All those blogger types on the intarwebs are foul-mouthed heathens"

cf. Bill O'Reilly, and pretty much any rightwing blogger these days...(and i'm aware that slate is not a liberal blog but the point still stands)

Posted by bing | August 7, 2007 3:32 PM

My uncle used to say swearing is poverty. Followed by an expletive.

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 7, 2007 4:09 PM

Anyone see the new "Citizen Rain" meta-blog from King 5? (

Well dang, I was just going to write about how fucking hilarious it was for Slog's fucking headlines to be sucked into King 5's fucking content machine, but for some reason I don't see any of the fucking Slog posts in question... WTFuck!

Posted by High-Rise | August 7, 2007 4:32 PM

Wait a fucking minute--didn't Kelly O post something on this very blog that did the EXACT thing you're all whining about?

Why yes, she did:

"There was also an oil wrestling competition, a wet-tee, bullsh*t bingo.."

I don't really give a shit about profanity one way or another--though I think it's definitely a problem when there's an uproar over words (bleeped, ass-tricked or otherwise) and the messages that contain 'em aren't even on the radar. Whenever profanity's use or censoring obscure what's being communicated, there's a definite problem.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | August 7, 2007 4:43 PM

Fuckity Fuck Fuck!!!
Look what Fucking Dan Fucking Savage Fucking wrote in Fucking October Fucking 2002

Excerpt from \\\"Say Yes To War\\\" by Dan Savage October 2002

\\\"War may be bad for children and other living things, but there are times when peace is worse for children and other living things, and this is one of those times. Saying no to war in Iraq means saying yes to the continued oppression of the Iraqi people.\\\"

Posted by ... | August 7, 2007 8:53 PM

The other thing that gets my goat about the bleeping or asterisking of profanity is the utter randomness of it. I was reading a magazine article the other day, which had a quote in it that "so & so is a f---ing d---" and then, in the very next sentence, the phrase "rampant pricks" was left intact. Um, why is "dick" unacceptable, but "prick" okay? Certainly I could see that if the context were different ("he pricked his finger"), but "rampant prick" is Dick Triumphant.

It's stupid, it's childish, and it draws more attention to the profanity than just letting it fly. Then again, my husband thought he was back in Marine Corps boot camp when he first met me, so maybe my judgement on that particular topic is flawed.

Posted by Geni | August 8, 2007 12:26 PM

tljivun kdvstx vshkycxnb ftrypzv hrqzkwvfn uzgks wtzkxfu

Posted by xknt wrxs | August 21, 2007 6:04 AM

enter text? test, sorry


Posted by PrelKikam | August 21, 2007 7:41 AM

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