A Few Words on Our Use of "F" and "Sh"


Given the financial state of the NYT and The Atlantic, I'm not sure I'd want to emulate anything about their fucking shitty business model.
I read the SLOG for the potty language.
Although I can't say it particularly BOTHERS me, and while I do enjoy The Stranger and Slog, I think The Stranger sometimes cheapens what might be otherwise good perspective with gratuitous swearing, name calling, authors getting obviously bent out of shape over things posted in comments, blah blah...

I won't deny that it's also part of what makes it entertaining. It's just that it also make y'all seem pretty unprofessional sometimes, too. But hey, here I am, reading Slog every day, so...
But the bad potty no-no words!
Two similar ideas in a very short reply:
"We don't talk down to our readers..." and "There's no need to belittle our readers..."

hmmm, thanks Dom! you pretentious elitist cunt.
But sometimes—every now and again—an adult picks a curse word because it's the best FUCKING word for the job.

This shitty fucking bitch needs to stop reading elitist least coastie publications.

This is Seattle not new york.
Wait, she's going to stop reading the paper Stranger and try the Slog to get AWAY from the bad language?

Out of the frying pan into the fire.
Why the fuck didn't Goldy get to reply to this letter?
It's bad enough she had to write "bad p***y language," but you had to go and bold it.
That's odd. Because I've always felt I'd read the New Yorker, Atlantic, and NYT more often if they pulled the stick out of their asses and swore from time to time.
Well, fuck.
If the content were always on cute and boring subjects, it would be easy to avoid that language. But when we have to talk about pieces of shit like Rodney Tom dicking over the entire state for his self-gratification; or assholes finding new and creative ways to suppress the rights of others they don't like; or ... yeah, harsh language doesn't begin to appropriately convey the emotion. To pretend these things deserve dispassionate decorum is asking for something that's simply not genuine.
The term "potty language" always makes me think of actual three dimensional smelly baby shit hanging on the side of a toilet seat. Shit just makes me think of a farm yard, with the good and the bad of it. "Fucking" this and "fucking" that is just for emphasis.

"Obscenity" is not an objective question.
A disingenuous reply at best.

She is right. There is a gratuitous use of vulgarity in the Stranger and the Slog. To me, it comes across as lazy writing and a style preference for the paper and the blog ("we are just so alternative!")

And it is off-putting - mostly the really awful stuff you don't hear on the street or at work, or at least the places where I hang out.
I feel fucking better about your shitty use of curse words. Thanks a lot dick.
I love this lady and her letter. Some people swear and some people cringe when other people swear. But we all get along in the end
The curse words are part of the irreverent, college newspaper flavor of The Stranger.

Also, if the "potty language" of the paper edition is offensive, I'm not sure LW will find Slog to be an improvement.
Anything can be better written without profanity, and if you don't think that's the case you're a fucking idiot.
All due respect, I am an adult and I do read the Stranger regardless of, and partially because of the use of adult language. I strongly disagree that The Stranger will profit in any way by changing the voice (and thus the character) of the paper. If The Stranger could profit from this, it is only because other local media outlets, such as the Seattle Times, have failed as such, and lost too large a portion of their readership to an alt weekly. Rather than suggest that The Stranger clean itself up, why not urge the Seattle Times to have more complete coverage of such events as the mayoral read-and-greet? You know, like it's their job to have? ST, you look massively incompetent when you are giving market share away to this lovely, crude little slant rag. A Stranger that doesn't swear is no Stranger I care to pick up.
Who had that she lived in Ballard in the pool?

/I had Magnolia

/Just for you, Grams: fuckedyfuckfuckfuciingfuckedy.
I have always hoped that The Stranger's fine staff could and/or would express themselves without using such rude and/or crude language to get the news, information, or point of view out and/or across to the public.
I think your paper and SLOG/BLOG is a great source to get up to the minuet news and things that are taking place around the area.
Another way of viewing such language as Ms. Wood points out is, coming from my educational background, such language and expressions are viewed as words of Aggression -Aggressive - and Abuse to Control another.
But wait, they use "potty language" in the fucking New Yorker. All the fucking time. And sometimes their stories even depict people engaging in carnal intercourse. If she thinks they don't say "fuck" in the New Yorker, she is quite simply full of shit.
Back in the 80's my family had a subscription to Sports Illustrated (honestly used to be a pretty cool magazine with some inventive writing and off-beat features, albeit and of course from a sports-centric viewpoint) and I remember they didn't censor their content. I think this was probably my first exposure to "fuck" in print (surely in interview transcription) and I remember thinking it was wonderfully liberating, especially for 12 or 13 year old me. And I still remember when I first noticed them inserting those long and silly blanks in place of curse words, even for quoted text, and thinking the magazine was headed downhill. It's been on that same downward trajectory ever since. Love mainstream publications that are willing to sacrifice prudish readers for the sake of unfiltered content.
There's no need to belittle our readers by softening the English language like they're children.

Do you really think that other magazines avoid cursing because they think of their readers as "children?" Do you think that Harper's and Mother Jones and The Nation and Scientific American etc. are "belittling their readers?" Really?

Why not just say that you choose to write in the style that you speak? It's a choice of style. Your implication is that you choose to write the way you do because it's the right thing to do. It's not. It's not the wrong thing to do, either. It's just a choice you all have made. You don't have to justify it.
The good, when sparse, twice as good.
Why all the hate on the New Yorker? This Internet thing isn't a zero sum game.
I had a few experiences with Social Tourette Syndrome

I remember around 4th grade, I had a best friend that I would hang out with because he had a huge basement and lots of toys and his dad made remote control model airplanes. One day after Thanksgiving he and his brother for some reason learned to curse. So everything they said had Sh-- in it. Like they had all been watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on tv, it would be Shitty Shitty Bang Bang and then contagious laughter and rolling on the floor. I didn't follow though. I wasn't ready to curse.

In college, young adulthood, there were certain friends who used -fuck as a suffix, modifier and a noun. Yeah, I'm taking a trip on Am-fuck to go to Fuck York City and to finish my degree at Columbia Fuckversity.

Yikes, I could never do that either.
This site is ONLY viewable with Ad Blocker plus add-on. The boobs and weed and dildos really make it hard to read at work. With ad-block plus I just have to remember to not click on the drunk of the week.
How the fuck do you substitute another shitty little word for the fucking word 'fuck'?
shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits
@ 6, LOL. East coasters fucking own swearing, at least in America. This LW is much more typical of Western and Northwestern attitudes about swearing thana New Yorker.
f ballard - so full of sh.

If my last name was a euphemism for an erection, I would stop focusing so much of my attention on the idea of obscenities.
Honestly, I get where she is coming from. I would love to see Slog cut down on the profanity by about a third. It's become gratuitous.
Course language in what passes for journalism is another piece of the scenery in a civilization in decline.

Your HomoLiberal Socialist Welfare State is dying.

The society is falling apart.

Expect fires and mayhem.
hell, yeah... I bet this lady is one of the Ballard newbies with the required 2.2 kids, a designer dog, a $2000 twin-stroller who doesn't want her precious kiddies to see homeless people, hear the "f-word" nor otherwise have life intrude. Keep up the potty-mouth-words, Stranger.
You could have saved a lot of typing. "We're not nearly intelligent or mature enough to express even basic concepts without profanity" would have been both more true and more concise.

You're welcome.
I love gratuitous filth with my commentary. So I guess I cancel out her request.
@ 39, says the loser who delights in childish use of "fags n dykes." ROFLMAO...
I have a co-worker, a little bit older (I, my 30s -- her, her 50s) and she just moved here from a small town in Alaska by way of growing up in Grant's Pass, OR. Last year when she started she sat down at the bar and decided to read the Stranger.

After getting through most of it she asked me "is this paper always like this?"

I ask "like what?"

"Just all the swearing and bad words."

Me and a co-worker basically said in unison "It's the Stranger."

She'd never seen anything like it in her life.
People who complain about profanity are the most tedious people who ever lived.
I think the language is a hindrance to the newspaper being taken seriously, but then so are articles like the recent rundown of Seattle mayoral candidates, so it probably all works out in the end.
I have fucking adults asking me not to fucking cuss in my fucking facebook posts. Sometimes they will just say "Language!". What the fuck? I don't even have any facebook friends that are under the age of 20. How condescending to have an adult tell another adult not to cuss. Fuck that.
The one thing I can't stand about profanity is people who use it excessively as a mask for a poor vocabulary, and then justify it by saying "well, this is how adults speak, prude." No, adults don't use the word "fucking" in place of every adjective or adverb in the English language. Stupid assholes do that. Learn some goddamn words, dipshit.
Very well said!
A+ response
Snuffle up my droopy nutsack, you shitfucking cunt of a colostomy bag. I mean that in the nicest possible way, ma'am.
Your writing to your audience, so it is a choice. I'm personally not offended by your use of profanity, but I agree that it undermines your credibility. But your The Stranger. It's a brand. So fuck it.
One of the greatest, and gravest, responsibilities a parent has is to teach their children to swear properly, and to understand, enjoy, and maintain the great tradition of profanity which forms the true bedrock of the english language. All too often our civic leaders and major media institutions duck their responsibilities in this department, leaving our youthy...and ultimately, our whole citizenry, bereft of the ability to express their most important, and passionately held, thoughts and feelings in the most appropraite and communicative way possible. Besides which, who can even notice the fucking profanity in the Stranger for all the obscene artwork and purile opinion generated by the sophmoric dipshits on the Stranger's staff. What kind of a moron objects to shitty language typed between graphic advertizements for horse-themed sextoys and whatnot. Jesus fucking Christ people. What would Tony Soprano do?
I agree with @30. I thought it would be the giant pink dildos and sex ads that offended elderly people, but I guess that was just ageism. Elderly ladies are DTF they just don't want to say so.
That's fine, Dominic, but, as a longtime reader of Slog, my take on the use of f___ & s___ in Slog is that, more often than not, it's not so much about honest and non-condescending communication as it is about immature children snickering at the thrill of using "bad words" in public.
If your going to use profanity, at least do it in a way that demonstrates what a great writer you are. Sadly, the Stranger doesn't have many great writers that stick around (for example, Lindy West). Anyone who is talented realizes they could do much better for themselves than the Stranger, and quits as soon as possible.
Now you know how she feels about the effing brown word.
@49: no teabagging, Larry.
Wow your reply was pretty shitty, given the thoughtful and careful tenor of her note. Her comment wasn't that you *ever* use "adult" language; it was that you use it excessively. To me, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable (if arguable) observation. There was no need to belittle her (a reader) for holding this opinion, like she's a child.

Pamela, while those words don't make me cringe, I do understand where you're coming from. IMHO, their use is gratuitous here, and it is a sign of lazy writing that they can't be used with more discretion (my use of one in the above paragraph had to do with the fact that I honestly couldn't think of a better description of Dom's reply to you; my vocabulary could use some work). Personally, I like the power of a good curse word, and their overuse sort of deflates them.

Having said that, I've always assumed that their over-use here is simply a matter of image and branding - easily assuming a posture of youth and rebelliousness. By peppering the writing liberally with these words, the Stranger sets itself apart from other publications. I imagine Dom thumbing his nose at the NYT, sneering and calling them all a bunch of squares (if it were the 50's, this might make more sense).
I'm reminded of an interview with George Carlin where he was asked about his take on swearing and "bad language" and he replied something to the effect that when he was a child, he was told that he should look up to policemen, firemen and soldiers. People who, he pointed out, all swore like it was going out of style.

So if it was OK for them...
@54 If you're going to criticize writing you should learn how to write "your" and "you're" properly when doing so.
The use of the phrase "potty mouth" by LW undermines any maturity arguments about the use of profanity in The Stranger.

This is the style. I'm fine with it. I don't think they will lose readership by keeping things the same.
I absolutely fucking LOVE the comment @35. Fucking love it.
#60, Mr. Dirac, I never pretended to be a journalist or a good writer - like the staff at the stranger. I am but a simple gal that likes to comment..... Certainly, I can criticize writing even if my grammar isn't perfect? After all, the Stranger is paying me to comment like they pay their staff to write. #61 you are right, they don't loose readership, just staff members - although from what I understand, their readership isn't what it used to be either.
Sometimes it's the right word for what you're trying to say.

Most often it's just gratuitous I'm cool-I-said-shit/fuck/etc! lazy writing.
Dear Ms. Wood (heheh),

Here is a profanity filter for your internets. Good luck deciphering this thread...
I would totally stop reading the shit in The Stranger if the fucking was gone.
I also enjoy The Stranger's freerolling style. I DON'T want to see it turn into the Seattle Times, or even the New Yorker. (Or, god forbid, the Seattle Weekly.) The Stranger never took itself so seriously. There's always been the occasional long Serious article, like the one about the AIDS organization that was slacking off (Lifelong AIDS alliance?), or the one about the home invasion and rape of that South Seattle couple, the series on levamisole, and, of course, Dan Savage's post-Bush reelection, we'll-get-through-this conforting rallying cry for urban archipelagoes. And Dan's piece, of course, had plenty of potty language. That's his style. (Ask him what he thinks of the Old Testament!) Eli's work, though, if you notice, almost never does. And guess who won the Pulitzer?

However, if The Stranger suddenly started to really believe that it's Seattle's Only Newspaper and then started acting all straight laced, it would get totally boring and I would stop reading it.

That said, this sounds like a really nice lady and I love that The Stranger has such a wide readership. It's a fairly healthy sign.

All of you ripping up this lady: Please cut it out. You're being jerks, and looking pretty badly in the process.

@41 That's awesome.

@29 That's pretty funny.
@63 When you make an argument, your bad grammar undermines your credibility to comment on the subject of another person's writing. That's all I meant. I'm not a professional writer or journalist.
Seems it might be cool to have those words cut back just a little bit. I mean, the English language is full of great descriptors....why always take the shortcut?
Your brain will thank you when you reach age 80 or so.
@58 You made me think of Abbie Hoffman while reading your comment. In the 60's the word "Fuck" was used to "Shock" as part of the rebellion.
Besides being an aggressive/abusive word, it seems today this word is used the way a valley girl uses "like" every other word to like communicate.
Am I the only one bothered by the "[that]" which you inserted in her third paragraph which appears to change the meaning of the sentence? Fuck that shitty ass journalism!
Cussin' to me isn't adult language, so much as it is peer-to peer language. Using SPFCCMT is proclaiming that I am your equal, your comrade, to everyone within earshot. When this is inappropriate, it's impolite. However, when I censor myself, as I am usually wont to do around adult strangers over 60 and unrelated minors under 16, it is with a distinct sense of holding myself apart. I censor myself before you, I am not your friend. You are not entitled to my frank and open opinion. I am either above you or beneath you. We are not on the same level. No offense, that's just how I choose to use my Mother Tongue.
I have to say I agree with floater @67. I love the Stranger and the profanity has never bothered me. I personally swear like pirate with a splinter in his ass, but bagging on this perfectly nice older lady is just mean. She took great pains to be complimentary and thoughtful in her letter, and she loves Dan, so she certainly isn't a prude. She is from a different era that's all. And I seriously doubt, that were we to meet her in person we would all be as blue in our language as we are here with each other, because most of us aren't assholes 24/7, and deliberately making a nice older lady unhappy would be a dick move.
ala ka zee ala ka zam
sonofabitch and god damn
horses ass and witches titty
this news paper is read in the Emerald City

yeah weasel shit
Fuck cursing. Cursing is total fucking bullshit, and i won't motherfucking stand for all this goddamn bullshit pussy mouth fuckwit ass talk. I mean, Godfuck, whose dick do I have to suck to read some clean-ass news articles? Dominic, this asshole is so goddamn right about this bullshit epidemic of motherfucking goddamn shit talking assholery bullshit that has so over-fucking-whelmed the Stranger,, which used to fucking be the SHIT when it came to good fucking wholesome bullshit journalism.

Shit! Goddamn! Get off your ass an take a stand!
I read every issue and Slog post, and appreciate what you do, but no one swears that much in real life! Or at least I've never heard that much swearing in real life, even when waiting for the bus at 3rd & Pine, or taking the 358.

It feels like you can't think of more descriptive adjectives and adverbs, and so just default to the easiest option, which is also the least creative.
On Slog, the curse words are the least dangerous garbage you're likely to run into. Wait til she gets some exposure to some of the regular commenters.

Pamela, this place - like much of the Internet as a whole - is a haven for trolls. Also, learn to love Firefox or Chrome, and the Ad Block extensions available for them.
A very wise teacher I had in high school once pointed out that profanity serves a very useful purpose: it's a massive intensifier that provides emotional impact for really serious things.

If it's used sparingly.

I've gone through phases in my life where every other word out of my mouth was "fuck" or "shit". And I've gone through phases where that wasn't the case. I think I like the latter more (even though I admit I'm guilty of overdoing it here like many others).

Otherwise, when shit gets real, where the fuck can you go if you've drained "fuck" and "shit" of all their power through overuse?
Another thought: I do tend to use a lot of profanity among certain groups (some of my old Army buddies for instance) and not at all among others.

I wonder if the widespread use of profanity on The Stranger isn't meant to assert social solidarity with certain groups and to exclude others?

Most publications that the letter-writer referred to direct their writing to a pretty broad audience (though the New Yorker certainly signifies social inclusion and exclusion in other ways). Maybe she's concerned that the language used by The Stranger prevents some people from actually reading what you have to say?

I know I've hesitated to post links to your articles in comments on some blogs precisely because of the profanity here, and other times I've felt compelled to add a warning to the link. Many adults do swear. But not all do. Many don't, or at least don't do it on a routine basis.

And many, if they do see a lot of swearing on the page, won't necessarily have their sensitive feeling upset by it, but they will make a judgment about the writer. And that judgment may be that that writer needs to resort to cheap and easy means to write impactful prose.

I'd hate for that the be the reputation of The Stranger's staff.
I dunno, y'all, you pick up the paper version of The Stranger for free, so...not sure what the complaining's all about. It's not like you're paying for something and then, finding it's covered in shit, can take it back to the store for a refund. Personally, I'd be offended if the dildo'n'weed'n'tattoo advertising (ahem, again) FREE weekly WASN'T full of the colloquially profane, unless that's all it was (and The Stranger is one of the more quality papers out there these days).

I have absolutely no problem with the amount of profanity in The Stranger. It's kind of an integral part of the paper's voice--the hip young folks talkin' about hip shit. Has anyone watched a Scorcese film? Or read something like Requiem For A Dream? Vernacular: I dig it.

Not to mention, I feel like the whole "potty language" vs "we don't talk down to our readers/treat them like children/delicate flowers that can't handle dirty things" is on point. I hate shit that's paternalistic or doubts my ability to deal with content. Lady sounds cool, until she complains about "potty language." It's like your mom showing up to band practice and getting upset that your lyrics contain swears. Get with it.

Actual constructive criticism welcome. Maybe I'm a jerk, but I don't care. Again, it's FREE. Take it or leave it.
I think you missed her point entirely, Dom. The swearing is often gratuitous, and good writing is stripped of the gratuitous. When it is the right word, use it regardless of what it is. But, to claim that all the swearing is appropriate because adults swear when they talk, or that holding yourself to a higher standard is watering down language or belittling your audience is just a ridiculous cop-out of an answer.

Truth is, The Stranger still does some things really well, but has been declining for years because of just that attitude. You're like a late-series sit-com: painfully self-emulating.
It's the swearing, Dom. It has no nobility.

"hey, I'm not an uptight, busybody, shallow-minded centrist! I'm fightin the power man! fuck!
Im the anti-Cheney you guys! he never says fuck!

"I'm cool with weed and use the word douchebag 20 times a day since 2006! a sure sign of my deep-rooted countercultural leanings. "

FYI, we've removed the letter-writer's name at her request--she didn't realize it might end up on the internet. She was SO NICE on the phone.
also; notice how whats-his-fuck [stranger writer] always starts out taking the side of the underdog, anti-establishment in order to score cool points and then slowly backs away, sidling up next to the jackbooted cops and cowering. He did it with occupy and he'll do it with NSA spying if he hasn't already.
Have to add a vote for Chicago as the capital of Go FUCK Yourself, MotherFucking Fuck Face.


Fucking Shit-fuck.