i was a bit late catching up with this article over at CNBC about the 20th anniversary of the infamous Billy Ripken obscenity baseball card. a reporter asked Ripken about it and finally got the full story on how it happened in the first place. pretty interesting, but no need to re-hash it here.
what interested me was the double standard used where the word in question was concerned. the headline calls it the "obscenity bat" and when the time comes to describe what was written on the knob, the writer/editor decided to go with "F--K FACE". fair enough - most newspapers and other established media outlets make the same kinds of decisions all the time. but then you look at the photo used right above the vocabularical obfuscation and not only did they not block out the "offensive" part of the image, they have actually used a version where the phrase itself has been enlarged and the colors enhanced for improved clarity. so why bother concealing the actual word in the article? is the removal of two letters actually preventing anyone from figuring out what the word is, or from being offended? to me, it only makes it look like these media people are so deathly afraid of offending a very small segment of the population that they allow themselves to be made to look like idiots. what other four-letter words even start with F and end in K? fork, fink, funk, folk - that's all i got. ooh, or maybe Billy was a Filk fan!
i'm not advocating that reporters and others start tossing gratuitous cocks and shits into their stories, just that they stop tripping all over themselves trying to protect readers from these ghastly syllables when they are part of the story and/or part of a direct quote. it doesn't mean that you're endorsing the language or that you are contributing to the downfall of polite society. it means that these words exist and from time to time come out of the mouths of newsworthy people.
for more entertaining media knicker-twisting over the self-censorship of foul language that will really make your brain addle as it tries to parse the rationale, i encourage you to delve into Daniel Radosh's more comprehensive archives on the subject. it's especially fun when the omission of words and phrases leads to the piece being completely unclear and therefore failing as journalism altogether.