Filtering by Tag: OBSCENITY

Fuck in the New York Times

Recently, the New York Times published the word "fuck." Here, the paper's public editor, Margaret Sullivan, explains why.

"Some readers have questioned the use of vulgarity in the series, including two instances of 'the f-word' in Thursday’s installment, the most notable of which is in a quotation from Dasani’s mother as she addresses her directly. It’s highly unusual for The Times.

The associate managing editor for standards, Philip B. Corbett, explained:

'We had a very thorough discussion of the use of the vulgarities in that passage, which are certainly not the norm for us. The writer and editors avoided language like that in other places. But they made a strong argument that the full quotations were important in this very crucial scene. In the end, we decided that for readers, more would be lost than gained if we tried to write around those passages here. And we concluded that using that language in this one spot — but not repeatedly scattered throughout the articles — would not be likely to distract or offend many readers. Our basic guidelines about avoiding vulgarities and obscenities haven’t changed, but we all recognize that there are cases where an exception is justified.'"

The quotes in question:

  1. "'Shut the fuck up,' she says. 'You know, that’s one thing I don’t like about you — your negativity. You always talkin’ about the problem. You got a solution?'"
  2. "She think she some-fucking-body."

[NYT / Related: "Satan Is Offended"]


From a review of Whitney Strub's Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression in the Wall Street Journal:

It shouldn't be surprising that progressives have certain visions of a good society and are willing to suppress speech in pursuing them. Such liberal objectives aren't different in kind from the desire to maintain a culture with limits on the expression of sexual vulgarity, a desire once expressed on both the left and right. Neither objective is anti-intellectual; both involve large aspirations that aren't reducible to arguments about short-term empirical evidence. Mr. Strub's simplistic left-right frame notwithstanding, "Obscenity Rules" shows that both liberals and conservatives are often willing to subordinate freedom of speech in their quest for what they believe to be a decent moral order.