Friday, December 30, 2005

The "S" word

Over at Xooglers I recently posted a note about all the people who have been writing me asking for advice on how to get jobs at Google and sundry other things. In a fit of pique regarding certain aspects of my correspondents' style, I employed a certain anglo-saxon epithet which nominally means excrement, but which I employed in a more colloquial and idiomatic style merely to provide emphasis and a little more semantic interest than a word like "things".

Will Ray posted an interesting comment on my choice of terminology. It's interesting because he seems to object to my use of the "S" word, even though he doesn't actually come out and say it. Instead, he engages in some armchair psychoanalysis of my character. (I won't comment on the accuracy of his assessment except to observe that there's hardly any sport in diagnosing someone -- anyone -- as insecure, especially someone who has chosen computer programming as a profession.)

I don't really care so much about what Will Ray thinks, but I am concerned about the possibility that I might offend people by using an expletive, even where the use is defensible. Personally I've never understood why people get so upset about certain words. It's even more puzzling to me that it's acceptable to use these words if you change the spelling even though everyone still knows exactly what you mean (e.g. F***). But regardless, I have become keenly aware of the fact that one can completely undermine one's position just by being an a*****le, to say nothing of the fact that there's just no need for it.

So now I am torn. On the one hand I really don't want to offend anyone, but on the other hand I don't want to give the appearance that I agree with those who think that using swear words is a Terrible Thing. (I also don't want to give the appearance that I'm caving in to pressure, for fear that this will encourage more Will Rays to crawl out of the woodwork to critique my writing or catalog my personal failings.) So should I go back and edit that entry? Post an apology? Do nothing?

Quite the moral quandry, this one.

[Update:]

Upon reflection I have decided to go back and edit the entry. I decided this for a couple of reasons, but the overriding one was that Xooglers isn't my blog, it's Doug's blog, and I don't want my bad language to reflect poorly on him. I guess I'll just have to risk giving Will Ray a reason to feel smug. Will, if you're reading this, don't be under any delusions: I didn't do it for you.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Good call. When posting on other's blogs, yes, a degree of decorum is mandatory, unless it's a forgone conclusion that such colorful euphamisims are acceptable. On your own blog, of course, you have slightly more leeway. :)

Thomas said...

That's silly, if you ask me. In the immortal words of Q-Tip, "somtimes I have to cuss just to prove my damn point." I mean, if you're speaking American English, you can't call bullshit on something without cussing. Yes, it's a linguistic legacy of slavery and barbarism, but it's also a part of the American dialect, and that won't be changing in our lifetimes.