This morning in the Wall Street Journal, right on the front page, they had one of those stupid quotes where they blank out part of the word. Apparently this is to guard sensitive eyes from reading words that every single person reading the newspaper has seen, heard, and maybe said quite a few times.

It’s very odd. The Economist, which in the US we think of as a magazine but which the British seem to call a newspaper, treats readers like adults and just writes whatever the quoted person said.  After all, it is a quote.

This morning’s quote was from Senator Warner of Virginia’s buzzer.  Warner is part of the “Gang of Six” who are trying to craft a budget…a dismal story for another day. Apparently he brings a buzzer with him to each meeting and when things get too tense he whacks it. When whacked the buzzer proudly intones: “Bull—- detected. Take precautions.”

I wrote this as presented. My guess is that the buzzer is less squeamish and just shouts out the full word, which is hardly such a horrible curse word these days. Actually, it’s hardly a curse word at all.

The reason I mention this is the stupidity of the way that people do this all the time. We blip out half of words on television, fill in replacement syllables when speaking, and in print do as the Wall Street Journal does.

What amuses me no end is that every single person who sees Bull—- says the full word in their head. They fill in the missing syllable on television, and many even turn the replacement syllable into the real thing. All in their heads.

Apparently it’s fine to cause people to hear such language in the privacy of their head but there is something wrong with actually saying these things out loud or writing them out to the same people. Very odd.

The important thing for you to think about is not just this quirk of human nature but the implications. Such subtrefuge doesn’t fool anyone. Our minds paint the full picture. In these word games as in other observations about you.



Commenting area

  1. Considering some of the very graphic images we see in print and in digital form of death and destruction, the editing out, or bleeping out, of “offensive” material is a bit of overkill (dare I use the word kill?) Consider the recent news of Ben Laden. The government is considering releasing the picture of him with a bullet hole in his face. Rather graphic. I wonder they’ll blank out the bullet hole.

    All in all, I’d say that a lot of people just miss the obvious. By the way, thank’s for including the clip art of a steer trying to hatch an Easter egg.

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