Thursday, September 20, 2012

Smelling Salts

Miss Manners, Hints from Heloise, Dear Abby---forget them! The most helpful people in the world are the folks at the Canadian sports website (we looked in at them back on February 4, 2012, “The Life Worth Living"). 
TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays and Yunel Escobar will hold a news conference at Yankee Stadium live on at 3:30pm et today to discuss an alleged homophobic slur that was written on the shortstop's eye-black over the weekend.     ... 
Several pictures posted online show Escobar with the message written in Spanish in his eye-black, a type of sticker players wear under their eyes to reduce the sun's glare.
The words under the 29-year-old Cuban's eyes were "TU ERE MARICON" which can be translated as "You are a ------."
Okay, I should have posted a sarcasm alert. 

Here we are in the 21st century and an arm of the media devoted to all sorts of macho doings (ice hockey, football in all its incarnations, boxing, etc.) is so much like a Victorian maiden aunt that it can’t even give us a letter to work with. Some other newspaper and magazine websites at least let us play charades (First letter—“F”) or fill in the blanks (what comes between “F” and “T”?). But let’s give TSN some credit; they gave all the Latinos north of the border the right dope. So far as I could tell, the mighty Washington Post would only venture as far as “gay slur.”

Report things as they truly are? One would think that the self-styled paper of record, The New York Times would feel that it was its duty to do so. Unfortunately, the NYT is the prissiest of the prissy. Consider the opening lines of a 2008 book review entitled “Between Truth and Lies, An Unprintable Ubiquity” (My god! It’s everywhere—and we can’t print it!):
Harry G. Frankfurt, 76, is a moral philosopher of international reputation and a professor emeritus at Princeton. He is also the author of a book recently published by the Princeton University Press that is the first in the publishing house's distinguished history to carry a title most newspapers, including this one, would find unfit to print. The work is called "On Bull - - - - ."The opening paragraph of the 67-page essay is a model of reason and composition, repeatedly disrupted by that single obscenity:"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much [bull]. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize [bull] and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry."
The Times couldn’t even allow itself to print the title of the book under review! And in the text itself the paper had to resort to using one-half of the dreaded word as a euphemism for "that single obscenity." Basically what the Times was saying was: “Here is “bull” plus four letters—figure it out in your own dirty mind.” I imagine that other readers of the review reacted as I did when I originally read it over four years ago. They worked it out in their filthy little heads, and, when they got up off the floor, continued reading.

Why in the 21st century (I’ve just had a glance at the calendar again) can’t these people treat their readers as adults? We know all the curse words and the slanderous ones. If the media would report them, we would look them in the eye on the printed page or computer screen without getting the vapors.

But maybe I am wrong--and media giants such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph (UK), and ESPN are correct in thinking otherwise--in assuming a level of cosmopolitan sophistication on the part of their readers and online viewers.

Perhaps the place where 21st century adulthood is to be found is on the pages of papers such as the Lethbridge Herald of Alberta, Canada, whose 15,000 readers probably didn’t fall over in a swoon when they read:
Escobar had written under his eyes "TU ERE MARICON," which can be translated as "You are a faggot.


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