You don’t remember “A Wee Swearie”? That exposition on the properties of the most commonly used four letter expletive by Billy Connolly was a classic of 70s comedy. And it started with the understatement “There’s going to be some swearing”. Why I make this brief reminiscence is this: there does seem to be rather more than “some” swearing going on around the blogosphere.
So what? It’s all about freedom of expression, as well as speech, isn’t it? Of course. But, I would caution, freedom does not have to equal foul mouthed. That’s not an attempt at sniffiness – just a highlighting of the obvious: if the blogosphere can’t express itself in coherent and plain language, it won’t replace or even seriously supplement the print and broadcast media any time soon.
But what about all the expletive meisters in the print and broadcast media? Sure, they most certainly exist, not least the legendarily foul mouthed editor of the Daily Mail, Paul Dacre. But the effing and blinding that dominates behind the scenes at the Rothermere press does not carry through into the product: rather the opposite – the Mail is typically in the vanguard against swearing in the media, especially when this can be used as a stick to beat the BBC.
That’s not censorship – it’s common sense. The more the f-word is deployed, the less effect it has, and the more the target audience is put off. That’s why the so-called “Industrial Language” of the editorial conference stays on that side of the wall. And if papers like the Daily Mail (and, just to reinforce the reminder, the Sun and Star too) can do without it, so can your average blog.
And that’s Gordon Ramsaying telling you.