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09/16/2011

Are euphemisms for profanity OK in online comments?

We're having an interesting discussion among editors here in the newsroom about whether we should permit our online commenters to use euphemisms for swear words. Is use of the now-common conversational term "freakin'" OK as a replacement for ... well, you know what it's a replacement for.

Same with friggin' or, my personal (un)favorite — "effing."

On first blush, I'd say no. We should keep things civil. But it's really not that simple. If we disallow "freakin'" then what about "gosh darnit?" Most people are OK with their 5-year-old saying that. But it's really nothing more than a euphemism for a profanity that takes the Lord's name in vain.

And what about words like "crap," and "suck?" Should we allow those? 

Or, how about commenters who take columnists', editors' and their fellow commenters' names in vain. Like, the perpetually grumpy "freeman" who calls me Buylater and refers to P-B Managing Editor Jay Furst as "Mr. Last."

Yes, we want folks to be civil. But if we start eliminating borderline offensive stuff, what are we left with?

Just askin'?

Let me know what you think about allowing online euphemisms for profanity. 

Comments

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Use the same guidelines you use for the rest of the pb articles. If you wouldn't say it in an editorial, why should it be assumed that online commenters have lower standards? There are plenty of blogs where one can spew euphemisms to their heart's content. You run the paper so it should reflect your standards, not be filled with words you begrudgingly let pass because you think it's appeasing the unwashed effin masses.

I see blank lines are allowed, and so much for the DFLpb online policy against mean spirited comments, if they are toward a conservative mr buylater allows it, but not if you try to respond to the little democrats post, "journalistic integrity" is extinct

Hasn't the phrase "tea bagger" been used by PB staff to describe the tea party?

Just to be clear, are non-euphemisms for profanity disallowed? Just askin'.

As one of the "freakin" DFLers (who posts from the "back-bench" of conservative-dominated commentary in the online PB, I'd caution against censoring any of us more than is done already, the main reason being that it would strip much of the..`er Color from already quasi-guarded opinions.

And--as I've stated in the past--if you really wanted to "clean-up" & improve the overall level of discourse in these spaces, all you'd really need to do is require that everyone just post under their own name.

Naturally, one subsequent downside to that could be the "loss" of 6-7 of the busiest (sock-puppet) sages.

"Why can't everyone just be right, like me?"

"Tea bagger" has never been used by Post-Bulletin staff, and comments using that term are deleted.

You already (correctly) remove posts that include swear words, smear words and incendiary words - and most of the removals are done automatically. Why would you NOT include simple variations of the above examples like "effin'" and "frickin'"???


One would hope that you would uphold a certain "class standard" both in print and online. As always, I just suggest that you do this in full view, equally and in real time - unlike the current thought censorship previews done on comments.

As always, your comments make this column and all our reporting a lot more interesting, so send me your thoughts.
I know a lot of people in our area think blogs are nasty, dark corners of the Internet where offensive anonymous comments are allowed to flourish. Well, the Internet's a big place, but the 12 blogs at Postbulletin.com are not at all that way.

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