I have a not-so-shocking confession to make: I curse. In fact, around deadlines, I curse a lot. Most of my verbal spewing is directed at my computer screen. But still, it’s not something I’m proud of, and it’s certainly not something I want to flaunt.
This confession comes in light of several recent bouts with the f*** word. Every magazine/newspaper/book editor has to grapple with the question: should this word be allowed in their publication?
I’ve had to make this call several times in the last few months. In our October issue, there’s an interview with novelist Chuck Palahniuk along with a brief excerpt from his new book, and the f*** word is part of the excerpt from Chapter 1. We decided to handle it with asterisks.
And last week, a source for a piece we’re running on the gay and lesbian fiction market had an issue with our “censoring” the f*** word.
On our forum, we’ve set up filters to automatically asterisk the word.
We’re a writing magazine, so the last thing we want to do is censor the work of writers. I do understand why the word might have its place in fiction—especially in dialogue since it’s become so ubiquitous in our language, it would seem almost wrong for certain types of characters not to be using it.
But especially in nonfiction, don’t writers need to be the ones to keep the level of discourse high? Hasn’t the f*** word become so common that it’s almost trite? And is it really censorship if an editor chooses not to print this particular word? As you can tell, this is really bugging me right now, so please let me know your thoughts.