I’ve written a weekly PETiQuette column for my paper for nearly a decade now. In all that time, my terrific editor has rarely changed a word. Well, there was that time she was on vacation and somebody left the “i” out of the word “doing” and caused some minor embarrassment. But for the most part, I’ve managed to keep the content relatively clean despite often writing about what goes into (and out of) each end of our furry companions. So I was surprised to receive a note last week about language I’d used in an article on cat fights:
“I opted to change one word on this week’s column” she wrote. “Due to the recent uproar over us running a story with a curse word in it, we’re having to really watch it. You were discussing where bite marks would be found and used the “ass-ets” pun (which, by the way, I thought was cute). However, I was afraid some of our hyper-sensitive readers … would find it offensive … I changed it to nether “regions.” I’m sorry about that, but really had to do it.”
WHAT?! At first, I laughed long and hard. And then I got hissed off (you know the REAL word but I don’t want to get bleeped here *eg*). I can’t get upset at my editor as she’s simply following the rules stated by the powers-whut-be. But I’ve used that pun on local and national TV, and in the same column in the past. I’ve been known to brag that I’m able to come up with hundreds of ways to say “bathroom deposits” without getting censored–until now. But I’ll rest easier knowing the newspaper is keeping us N Texans safe from real life language that could otherwise corrupt our innocent souls!
I understand why the editor felt compelled to play scrabble with my word choice and since it didn’t change the intent, I didn’t argue the point. The incident that prompted the prickly attitude arose from a wire story with a direct quote that (as I recall) broke the second commandment–but it was a DIRECT QUOTE! The editor ended up writing an apology for publishing it, assuring readers that the paper would land hard on the news service for sending such a thing, and would “vet” such things better in the future.
And I soooooooo appreciate being protected from the perils of being corrupted by my own errant wise-ass-isity. Oh damn…I mean darn, there I go again! Love to hear from any readers/writers if you’ve felt the heavy hand of censorship in your work. And I’m very tempted to write a future very dirty, suggestive, beyond-the-pale column but using only politically correct words and language. Wonder if I’d get censored again? Hmnnnnn. I do so love a challenge!