Say What?


I take off one week, just one short week, and everything goes to hell in a handbasket.  

Sean Spicer is out, which is no great loss—except to Saturday Night Live. He’s left Sarah Huckabee Sanders in his wake, and it’s already clear she’s not going to be as much fun as Sean. And while I celebrated the great Melissa McCarthy and her epic putdowns of Spicer, it’s only fair to cut some slack for Ms. Sanders. (Stop groaning.) She’s an easy enough target, but the truth is I wouldn’t wish what she has to deal with on my worst friend.  

We can just leave her to heaven, while enjoying her increasingly obvious discomfort with the results of the devilish bargain she has made.

Then Reince Priebus hits the door, but really? Hadn’t we almost forgotten he was still in the White House? And Scaramucci didn’t stay around long enough for me to learn how to spell his name.  

But more unfortunately, the “Mooch” didn’t last long enough to have the appropriate style guides determine how to present all types of profanity and vulgarity in a correct form. (You know I’m all about that.) If he had, I just know we would have been in for a spirited discussion.

Think of it. There are certain words that aren’t fit to print, even when they are part of all the news that IS fit to print. Let’s start with that word I know you’re thinking about and which Scaramucci likes so much.  

It can be a verb on its own, but add –ing and a whole new world of usage options opens up. Scaramucci “want[s]to –ing kill all the leakers” while later claiming to have “fingerprints on everything they’ve done through the F. B. I. and the –ing  Department of Justice.” He really likes this particular vulgarity (I’m not judging, just saying), using it a few times more in the New Yorker interview, so you get the idea.

I think I would have advocated, for style guide purposes, that we should agree to use “–ing” to mean the whole –ing thing. See what I mean.  

Of course, there are other vulgarities that may need new rules to address. And since these are not restricted to four letter words, we need to determine a system that will make the meaning clear to adults, but still somewhat confusing to children—if that’s still possible.

The first decision should be whether to use an asterisk or a hyphen for the missing letters. Personally, I’m for the asterisk, as the old school rule is two hyphens is a dash, and there’s no need to confuse that issue (or my Word software) any further.  

We also will need to decide which letters get left out. Vowels only? Everything in the middle? Every other letter? Of course, if you know you’re looking for a “dirty” word, you can discern the word pretty easily, whichever method you use. But we still must think of the children.

But then Scaramucci managed to use so many words that weren’t vulgarities in and of themselves; they only became profane in context, so to speak. This is one reason why English is such a beautiful, nuanced language.

I had more than one giggle with the cable news networks throwing their hands up in the air when trying to communicate about Scaramucci’s assertions about what Steve Bannon was trying to do to himself and what Reince Priebus did to Scaramucci. That’s as clear as I can make this reference, now that I understand how much caution must be used when using four letters English words which end in “ck.”  

Maybe our experiment in extreme vulgarity, like extreme vetting, will run its course. But, in the meantime, good l**k.



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Well, Let Me Say This About That is an interesting twist on current events, as told by Dallas' finest and funniest Craig McCartney.

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