Saturday, August 8, 2009

Why Washington Post journalists shouldn't fucking write about swearing

We British hacks love to mock our American counterparts for being rigid and uptight, a sport that I believe is largely without justification having worked alongside several fine Yankee scribblers.

But Karla Adam of the Washington Post has restored my lack of faith in American journalism with a truly painful piece on the prevalence of swearing in Britain.

Picking up on Conservative leader David Cameron's recent use of the words "twat" and "pissed" on British radio, she goes on to argue that, unlike Americans, Brits have a high tolerance for swearing.

Fair point but the problem is that, as she's writing for an American newspaper with a delicate American readership, poor Karla isn't allowed to use swear words in her article, forcing her to deploy some very bizarre side-stepping techniques.

Cameron, she writes, "then played on the word twit, inventing a past tense of the term that some people here regard as a swear word".

You mean he said "TWAT", I think Karla.

She also refers obliquely to the incident when Dick Cheney told another Senator to "go fuck yourself".

Or, as Karla puts it, "Vice President Richard Cheney stunned the nation by telling a senator, in public, what he could do to himself". Hmmmm.

While this foreign correspondent is desperate not to offend the sensibilities of her American readers, she seems happy to offend large swathes of the British public.

When she writes about the C-word - yes Karla, that's "cunt" - she claims that "it can be heard reverberating throughout soccer stadiums where it is mindlessly chanted, choruslike, by thousands of fans for several minutes at a time".

I'm not sure if our interpid reporter has ever been to a "soccer" match but, as a keen football fan, I have to say that I've never heard such a moronic chant before.

Although, I'm so frustrated by Karla's euphemistic meanderings, that I almost feel like starting such a chant now.

If you want to write about swearing, then swear. If the very though sends shivers down your moralistic spine, then write about something else that won't put your prissy readers out of joint, like Church fairs or organic farming.

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