What the Fuck is Krugman on About?

From time to time, Paul Krugman reminds his readers not to use naughty words in comments:

Why Your Comment Was Deleted | 1. Gee whillikers, you used an obscenity! It’s clear that many people don’t even realize that they’re using banned words. But that’s by far the biggest reason for rejection.

2. You’re off topic.

3. YOU USED TOO MANY CAPITALIZED LETTERS!

4. You’re a recognized troll. At the moment there are only two of these, using a variety of names.

5. You’re completely incoherent.

6. You’re a robot trying to sell Viagra, etc..

Are there smart, focused comments rejected because they’re too effective? No. Never. Get a life.

I couldn’t stop myself from providing the following cheeky comment:

I know that this is The New York Times blah, blah, blah and we don’t want to be printing any naughty expletives in the paper of record. (Remember, the “Impeach the Expletive Deleted!” signs during Watergate?) But being a great lover of such language (I wrote a full-length play on the subject called “Expetive Deleted), I really want to know what these words are that would soil the reputation of the paper more than say Jayson Blair or Judith Miller.

Perhaps you could provide a coded list as does Ruth Wajnryb in the title of her excellent book Expletive Deleted (great minds think alike). It is subtitled, “$&#@*! A Good Look at Bad Language.”

I’m sure we all know that the F-word is out. As are all euphemism for cunnilingus and fellatio. But would the combination of two “we” words to mean penis or urination really get my comment thrown out? Just how far does this go?

Also, are constructs like N$w Y@&k T^#es out as well?

There is no way for me to answer these questions. I have both the Chicago and the AP style guides and they provide no help. The New York Times has its own style guide, but there are two problems: (1) it would most likely be useless here; (2) who uses this style manual? Everyone knows Chicago is the one. Sorry. I love NY, but Chicago is no back water.

One final thought: Wajnryb spends about 100 pages on the F-word. She is particularly bothered by the fact that it is almost never used to indicate the act itself. This is too bad, because we simply don’t have a good alternative. “Make love”? I think we all know that there are times when we are not making loving—we are F-wording.

Now the big question is whether you ban this comment because it is off topic. I am commenting on your reminder about how to get your comment banned. There is no other place (or better place) to put it. If you do ban it: go fornicate yourself!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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