I need to preface this post by saying I have horrible language. I do. I can use the F-word several times in a single sentence and still be grammatically correct. I don’t pretend to be prim and proper, unless where appropriate. Foul language doesn’t necessarily offend me. That is, unless I see it in a newspaper or other professional context where it doesn’t belong. Then, I’m only left with one impression: Really?
Today I was reading an editorial in one of the nation’s top 10 newspapers, and nothing could have prepared me for the columnist’s reference to employee’s being “scared s**tless.” I read it, re-read it, re-read it again, and literally shook my head. . . . Really?
Let me get this straight. Some don’t consider me a professional writer because I’ve written for content studios. Never mind my byline has appeared several times in two of the nation’s top 25 newspapers. Never mind I’ve written and ghost written hundreds of published articles and blog posts. Never mind I’ve edited thousands of articles and blog posts, many of which appeared in three of the nation’s top 25 newspapers. Maybe I need to start including expletives in my professional writing. Apparently, that’s a criterion now for professional journalism, because I’m seeing it everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong, there are mediums where profanity makes sense. I remember when I went to see The Breakfast Club for the first time. I was in high school, and even though the profanity in the movie was off-putting for many adults in the audience, that’s how teenagers talked. It was real. I used that kind of language; my friends used that kind of language. The kids cussing in the movie were real. The dialogue was appropriate.
I have cursing in my book. In fact, I have too much profanity. I likely singed my beta-readers’ eyebrows, and I’m currently editing most of it out. My main male character is an NYPD detective, however, so, yes, he’s profane in much of his dialogue. This, too, is real. We are a culture of potty-mouths. Just turn on the TV, listen to popular music, go to the movies, read a book, or walk down the street and hear how people are talking; X-rated doesn’t even begin to cover it.
So why was it akin to fingernails scratching a chalkboard when I read this columnist’s profane comment? Because I still believe we should maintain a sense of professionalism in certain professional settings. Not to mention that, in my humble opinion, if you have to use profanity in a newspaper column to get your point across, you’re not a very good writer.
Perhaps these employees were “scared s**tless,” but that was the only “adverb” you, as a professional journalist, could come up with? Really? Call me old-fashioned; call me uppity; call me a prude. Any professional journalist who litters her or his articles and commentaries with profanity is not a professional anything in my book. I mean, really . . . what the . . . fooled you!
Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved