I am indebted to my friend Phil Adams for making me think about this subject, of which my regular readers will know I am very fond. This morning he wrote a brilliant and highly amusing post on his excellent blog, Sawdust. It’s about an issue that makes my blood boil. The lame-assed censorship of swearing, in the media.
Take this example from last month’s Times (One of the worst offenders as it happens)…
“Student rioters were incensed as they charged on Whitehall. Said one, ‘the f***ing coalition are a bunch of c***s.’ ”
OK, I actually made that up but it’s a typical sentence you might read any day in any quality newspaper; except the Guardian who would have literally reported the quote.
Do they think we are complete idiots, that we can’t work out what letters the asterisks replace.
In his post Adams beautifully argues that this is in fact a form of reverse psychology, it’s a stopper, because it actually brings MORE attention to the swearword. You re-read it, maybe even saying “fucking” out loud and if you’re a reader of the Daily Mail or Express you might even write in outrage to the editor.
Why not paraphrase the quote or leave it out altogether if swearing is such a challenge to your sensitivities?
And while I’m on it why does the Sun think it’s OK to show a picture of a topless girl next to a paragraph (headline even) that reads “It’s all a load of b*ll*cks.”? Which is most offensive to the greater number of people? I mean, Jesus Christ, Rodney and Dell Boy said bollocks repeatedly on prime time TV for years, so I’m pretty sure it’s not even a swear word. OK it’s a step up from my Grandmother’s old favourite: Ruddy. But I have seen Bollocks b*ll*cked up many times in the red tops.
This is one of my all time favourite poems which elucidates my point to perfection.
This was the moment that changed the history of swearing on TV. I mean it’s hilarious. The juxtaposition of posh old Bill Grundy and the trying oh so hard Sex Pistols…
It’s all captured beautifully in this book I received for Christmas. I read it whenever I sit on the sh*tter.
Let’s return to the Guardian; where others write *rse (I kid you not) or trail Tarantino’s movie as Inglorious B******’s the Guardian will happily go for the full Bhuna. No one is afraid of the swearie police at the Guardian and that’s one of the reasons I love it so. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it. Just like you are, or aren’t, reading this post this far.
So, that’s that off my chest. I can go and make the f****g breakfast now.