To blank or not to blank

A reader's letter in one of the writing magazines I get was lamenting the fact that the magazine had printed the word 'fuck' in full when printing a winning story. Apparently this lady could not read any further in this story having come across the word in full. I think, though she did not admit as much, that she was OUTRAGED! The offending word should have been blanked out so as not to offend according to Outraged Reader. Apparently, f**k is not offensive and she would have been able to read on.


Whilst one should not be uber-critical of others' standards, one has to wonder how this lady reads. When she comes across f**k in a piece of writing what does she say in her head? 'Fred thought, Eff star star kay that!' ? No, I very much think she reads the word in her head just as it is spoken.

The offended lady also questioned why the word had to be used at all, apparently there are millions of words that could be used instead. I question that. What word has quite the same emphasis as fuck? The hard sounding consonants in a single syllable make it a very forceful word, which in the right context is, I think, fine. Over-use of it does lessen its strength and shock value but it does have its place. It has been around for ages after all.

Many esteemed writers have used it over hundreds of years; it is not a purely modern phenomenon as this lady would have us believe. This lady (and now I AM being uber-critical) does not move in a circle of society that uses this word. Goodness me, where does she live? I have a sneaking suspicion that people may not use this vulgar term in her presence but once she has left a room there may be a few thinking, 'Thank fuck for that!'

I've just been struck by another thought. Maybe she substitutes a word - fork perhaps? Fork would be a brilliant replacement; it sounds incredibly similar and has that emphasis I mentioned earlier. I wonder what we could substitute for the 'c' word?

(After I had put pen to paper, literally, a similar article was published in the The Times. Great minds and all that.)


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