Actually it is profane and banal.
Courseness in language is an important part of Skipping to Gommorah, NYT!!
Get with the times....
Dan, let me ask you this - would you say "shit" on purpose when making an appearance on CNN or MSNBC? If not, I'm not so sure that it's really made the transition to banality just yet.
BBC TeeVee says shit all the time. This country is so fourth century.
only if he were describing sex with Terri
So if I got an HBO series titled "Shit" produced, would they never refer to it by name in reviews?
Great point, Matt. Biting the hand that feeds me is one thing, goading my friend to bite the hand that feeds him is another.

Far as I'm concerned, if the NYT's olde fashioned stylebook is one way they protect the kind of access to all sides that lets them write the in-depth pieces my lovely Slogmasters can't survive without linking to and analyzing--yes, sometimes to death--okay by me.
We're talking the gray lady here. They still believe in Emily Post.
Joe, there's already Penn and Teller's "Bullshit" - and nobody refers to it as that in the press. It's always referred to as "Bull" or "Bull****."
@3: Eh, I would.

It's one thing to refrain from particular vocabulary if it can be substituted with something else, and another to go to particular lengths to avoid calling something by its *title.* It's a little bothersome since it's about properly accessing information -- it's just a teensy bit harder for people to actually find said Twitter feed or said website.
I do find it funny that news channels and papers go through all that trouble to bleep or asterisk profanity. OK, so the CBC -- our national program -- can interview traumatized pedophilia victims and stage creepy "reenactments" (yes), but damnit, they will NOT offend sensibilities with swears.
Yes, because vulgarity has done so much for AMerica. Just spend an hour watching BET or VH1 to see how much it has done for us.
Well how the fuck are we supposed to know which shit is off-limits nowadays if the damn bitches at the NYT (and other cocks in the media) don't censor the cunt out of it for us?
Dan, How about the fat dancing show "Dance your A** Off!" There is a situation where they bleep the profane in a situation where EVERYONE knows and is familiar with the word. This is why _______.

I believe Carlin's title for those was the "Seven words you can never say on Television".

I also believe "Deadwood" completely debunked that - Hell, Swearengen probably put it to rest a in a single sentence.
Yeah. That shit's retarded.
I like it. (And "South Park" was funnier when they bleeped.)
Look, we call all talk like gang bangers now!
Give it a rest, Dan. It's a newspaper.

@2: YAY Gomorrah Man! He still can't spell "Gomorrah" properly, and he's letting the whole world know!

@4: Thanks for telling us your gladiator name. Mine's "Kaeso Rutilius".
@ 10, I understand that, but I think Dan's closing remarks, which echo previous posts that newspapers shouldn't censor profanity (and not just in cases like this), are a little silly. I mean, I'm all for there being no such thing as words too crude to use, but I'm not going to go out and assert that basically all of America is in agreement.
Someone needs to teach the NY Times about the use/mention distinction. It should be perfectly fine for a mainstream newspaper to use the word "shit" when referring to something with that title. They are not using the word, they are mentioning the word.

Premium cable plays by its own rules. Six Feet Under had male frontal nudity. You'll never see that in Hollywood movies.


If Dan said "shit" on live TV, he and the station would get fined by the FCC.
I hear you Dan and I'm so with you. Just the other day I listened to the TAL episode of return to the scene of the crime. You had me as choked up as you were.


Rest in Peace JSS
Personally, I have heard Dan say BATSHIT any number of times on TV and other recorded broadcasts.
For shame. You really should know already that the NYT only takes shit from the president. (Plenty more stuff about the prudes elsewhere on LanguageLog.)
@ 22, so does that support or refute Dan's assertion that "shit" is now a banality? That's the pertinent point here. If most Americans don't agree with Dan, and they still consider it a vulgarity, then they probably support censoring it.

(And again, lest anyone misunderstand, I am on Dan's side here. Profanities gain power as vulgar words because people treat them like they're bad.)

There's another problem with Dan's reasoning. While typical schools probably no longer teach newspaper or online news reading to kids, a lot still do. Back in my youth, we started being assigned media lessons in the 5th grade. So while the number of kids reading the news is small, there are still enough of them to make Dan's emphasis that news readers are adults false.
Insert George Carlin referential joke here.

The shitstorm after the "wardrobe malfunction" at the Super Bowl certainly indicates that many Americans are still freaked out by boobies, and I would assume potty words as well. I can't say if that applies to the majority of Americans. I definitely don't believe that the FCC in any way represents the public.
Agreed, it's ridiculous. The coy, giggling-behind-one's-hand tone with which they refer to words they're not allowed to state directly is even worse than the censorship itself. It's just a rude word, not goatse -- all this tee-heeing about "decidedly more profane" is surely not necessary.

They also censor the name of the band "Pissed Jeans," & I recollect they got some criticism for not printing the actual language used when Dick Cheney told that guy to go fuck himself on the floor of congress. In that instance the Washington Post did print the quote verbatim, with the reasoning that it was newsworthy & adult newspaper readers don't need to be patronised. So the Times is behind even other comparable newspapers on this issue.

"Would you say 'shit' on purpose when making an appearance on CNN or MSNBC?" Well it's quite possible he would, if he was quoting someone else's words, or citing the name of a book/TV show/whatever. There would be nothing inconsistent in the Times's instructing their writers not to insert their own needless profanity into articles, but to quote it when it's part of the story they are reporting on, in the interest of being accurate and realistic.

Shitmykidsruined is fucking hilarious.
@20: Ok, that's fair enough.

@21: Good point on the difference between "mention" and "use."
@ 29, that's a good point. Still, most of us refrain from swearing when we're in certain public settings, and even private ones (usually involving older family members and children - gotta think of the children!).

Personally, I think most people swear, and out of those who do, most feel a certain - I don't know, shame? - when they do because of how it's been ingrained that we must not use bad words.

Heck, I can speak to how having kids has forced me to modify my speech - not because I'm ashamed to say "fuck" in front of my kids (I just did it a hour ago, and one of them is five), but because I know it'll cause us problems if my kids go around swearing themselves. My daughter's friends' parents will get upset with me if she says "shit" in front of their kids, and may not let them play with her if it happens. Conforming like this is a pain, but what's parenthood but sacrifice...

Sorry, but in point of fact Hollywood has been doing quite a bit of male full-frontal in the past decade or so. Not anywhere near the amount of female full-frontal of course (although that seems to be diminishing as more guys bare it on-camera), but still. That old taboo went by the wayside a long time ago.
All you have to do is change the word "shit" to "shatner". As in: "Boy did I get shatner-faced last night."

I would definitely watch a show that used the word "shatner" as a verb.


What constitutes quite a bit?
I still favor the use of "Muhammad" as an all-purpose profanity. Let the whiny rug-butters chew on that.

(Credit for "rug-butters" goes to…)
By the way, the 20th is Draw Muhammad Day, for those who wish to take a stand for free speech.
Thank goodness the Times can say "chow on that box" without offending anyone.
"Shit" is just a derivation of an old Germanic word for "feces".
I think it's appropriate. The Slog regularly posts swear words, which tends to make it look more like an unofficial blog site, a primarily opinion-based (not news based) venue. By refraining from writing with vulgar language, The New York Times maintains a business attitude.

I do swear in conversation, around my friends, and in my casual writing. But I wouldn't swear if I was visiting a church, around my LDS family members, in a business setting, or in writing intended for informative purposes (ie: school papers, journalism). It's simply not thoughtful, professional or polite. I can't see a situation where I would be offended at someone opting not to swear, but I can think of many where I would be unpleasantly surprised and thrown off-guard by swearing -- mainly professional or scholarly situations.

Btw, I have a son. My husband and I decided, when he was a very small child, that it's impossible to edit all swear words out of the world. Even if we completely stopped swearing, he would still be introduced to it in the big wide world. I grew up LDS, born and raised -- I still swear copiously, although it was never in my home or the homes of my childhood friends. So, instead, we let our son swear, but we teach him the appropriate times and places. He knows not to swear at school, in public, or around certain family members.

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