I never knew writers could be so uptight.
Whenever I picture people who write for a living, an easy image comes to mind: funky, uninhibited, well-read individuals with unconventional ways and witty repartee. But the age of bohemian poets has past and the dot-com replacements are not a liberal group.
There's a Website out there in the cyberspace with a name that some consider to be profane. If you are easily offended, prepare to read this column through splayed fingers barely covering your eyes. Or simply choose to check back next week for more exciting adventures. For the rest of you...I'll continue.
The Website is called Fuckedcompany.com. Maintained by Pud, a 25-year-old Manhattan writer with a tendency toward trash talk, this site tells all about the companies that are "fucking" its employees with layoffs and closings.
Anyone working in new media should have this site firmly bookmarked for daily reference. The rumors and innuendo fly on its black pages, and they tend to offer a prophetic account of the truth. (When you're working in an industry suffering from growing pains and a sluggish economy, it's best to be informed and prepared when the time for layoffs is nigh.)
With this in mind, I decided to interview Pud. I wrote the usual interview request query and then something in me hesitated. What if...Light forbid...one of my readers unsubscribed because I included the Website's title and URL in the article?
How silly, I admonished myself. These are writers! Freethinkers! Open-minded individuals who understand that words should be used to communicate.
Still, the worry lingered, so I decided to put my theory to the test. I posted the following question to my readers: "The Web site, Fuckedcompany.com, provides a useful service to the online writing community -- it tells when sites are laying off staff and/or closing. However, its name includes a profanity. Are you offended when magazines include this site's title in stories?"
Unfortunately, when the masses spoke, they frightened me with their Puritanistic attitudes. Almost 200 people responded and the majority of them were indeed offended.
"YES! I am intolerant of any profanity or obscenity in my e-mail or anywhere!!!" said one writer.
"Profanity of this magnitude is never needed. It is such a waste," said another.
One respondent even wrote, "I was offended reading it on your survey."
I can't tell you how shocked I was by this vehement response. These are the people in charge of acting as our historians? Our poets? Or communicators and entertainers? People who are so afraid and intolerant of a word?
According to "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition," profanity is "abusive, vulgar or irreverent language." But who's to declare a bunch of letters stringed together to be any of these things?
It's just a word, people. Surely these writers realize that a continued stance against it is what gives it power.
Alas, in the face of such opposition, I was forced to decide whether to compromise my own beliefs or risk offending my readers.
I couldn't see giving up the fight for free speech, creative integrity and financial independence entirely. While I decided against interviewing Pud after all, I still intend to accurately source my newsbriefs when the facts come from his site.
I'm troubled by these writers' reactions, though. Disappointed, even. With this kind of oppressive attitude toward the English language, they could take offense at any word that goes out of vogue.
To prove my point, I've decided to invent a new profanity -- Dubya. From now on, replace "fuck," "damn" or "shit" with it. Next time you stub your toe on a chair, it's a good, solid word to shout in pain. (I know every time I hear its namesake speak, I'm in agony.)
Best of all, the conservative writers nearby won't freak out because you're hurting their virgin ears/eyes. They'll think you're actually on their side.