Profanity and publishing

by Victoria Madden

A piece on the writing standards that seem to characterize our current era from one of blogosphere’s ‘trio of Wodehouse fame’ (Ashok, Honoria, Noel, in case you didn’t know).

He’s sound on trains too.

The Traveller

Let’s talk about swearing in journalism. Once upon a time, there was none, at least not commonplace as it is now. For a swear word to reach print or, heaven forbid, the airwaves, it took long, anguished philosophical debate or monumental carelessness in the editorial process.

I remember as a cadet on the Courier-Mail in Brisbane a rolling argument through high levels and low about publishing a review of a small play called Norm and Ahmed by Alex Buzo, which included its controversial punchline. The play was one of Ozlit’s first forays that I can remember into the fraught topic of race relations. Its dramatic height came with either Norm or Ahmed (it hardly matters which) advising the other to go fornicate, in the Big Word that was considered most shocking in the 1960s.

Maybe we published the review with the word in and maybe we didn’t. I don’t remember. The point here…

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