13 October 2005 - Thursday

A plea for growing up

This is sad. I spent half an hour of my time yesterday trying to keep the expression "seeing-eye bitch" from being censored by our student newspaper.

The expression was used in a book review that I copy-edited. It is a direct quotation from the book under discussion. After listening to the reviewers, I am convinced that this expression is useful in the review as a way to capture an important aspect of the book. It seems, however, that some other people are nervous.

Now, this controversy is not that important by itself. Removing the expression will weaken the review -- if only by making it less interesting -- but the review is still excellent. However, I object as strongly as the reviewers to the excision of the phrase.

Who do we think will take offense at the inclusion? Seeing-eye dogs? Small children -- because so many of them read our book reviews? People with no vocabulary or sense of context whatsoever?

Or is this just a reflex? At a conservative Christian school, when we see a word like "bitch" in any context, we're supposed to drown it quietly to avoid contamination.

It is degrading. It is degrading because it implies an incredible ignorance and weakness of mind on the part of our readership. It is degrading because we are subjecting excellent staff writers to the sensitivities of an imaginary sanctimonious crank -- one highly unlikely, actually, to care about this novel. In a larger sense, it is degrading because it keeps us from interacting with our culture respectfully. We evangelicals love to make a show of putting conversational perfumed handkerchiefs to our noses, avoiding the odors of our neighbors.

| Posted by Wilson at 10:20 Central | TrackBack
| Report submitted to the Communications Desk