$@&! the word police

Letters to the Boston editor, September 18, 2009
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  September 16, 2009

I like to think of myself as a progressive and far from a prude. In fact, more than 20 years ago, I wrote a letter to the Phoenix in support of a front-page column about President Reagan, in which the word “fuck” was used perhaps more than 20 times. The word “fuck” was not being used in a graphic sense, but to express and color various emotions. I felt it fit the story aptly and applauded the author for what seemed his audacity to use it.

However, maybe I am behind the times now, as I was surprised by the casual use of unnecessary and lame explicit language in the September 4 issue. In the film review of For the Love of Movies— a review I recommend — Chris Faraone writes that film critic Gerald “Peary has no interest in fellating his contemporaries.” I know what Faraone is saying; I just do not think it necessary or appropriate to be that overly descriptive. Now if the movie was called For the Love of Sex in the Movies, then maybe.

Next up, the cover story: “Living with HPV,” by Lisa Spinelli. I recognize there is a first-person narrative aspect, but this is still a reporter’s investigative piece. I got stuck on this one sentence: “LSIL cells — or low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions — are equivalent to an area where a number of these abnormal cells are grouped together, like a bunch of greasy douchebags at a nightclub.”

Say what? I thought first perhaps this is like some crazy Fellini/Fantasia-type scene, where used, dirty hygiene-receptacles are dancing together under the disco lights. But if so that would likely be for the two-word term, douche bag. Whereas the one word term, douchebag, is slang and generally describes bad guys — which doesn’t make any sense to me as guys don’t usually have douche bags, unless maybe we get them thrown in our faces for being them? Anyway, let’s say nasty douchebag guys do hang out at clubs together a lot. Are they usually greasy, too?

I am not offended. I don’t blame either writer so much for what I would call useless distraction. I am dismayed the Phoenix editors let both instances go. But as it happened not once but twice in one issue, maybe that is where the Phoenix is going, right along with the world. So that the world will feel right at home reading the Phoenix.

Michael Burwell
South Weymouth

EDITOR’S NOTE Those who found this letter interesting should check out our review of Jesse Sheidlower’s book, The F Word.

Paranoid justification
Your September 11 article “The Plots Thicken” was misleading and insulting. As a victim of 9/11 (my uncle was on Flight 11) and somebody who has extensively researched the events that unfolded that day, it is painful to be casually tossed aside and lumped in with “Holocaust deniers” and other such obviously delusional groups. There is obvious and conclusive evidence that 9/11 was at the very least allowed to happen by our government, and more likely encouraged. If you had done the proper research I think you would see that we Americans have every reason to be paranoid of our Orwellian police-state government.

David DePrest
Portsmouth, Rhode Island

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