After reading “Getting An ‘F'” (Westword cover story, Oct. 4, 2007); “David McSwane Remains Editor of CSU Paper” (Westword Blogs online, Oct. 5, 2007); “CSU editor admonished, will keep job” (Denver Post online, Oct. 5, 2007); and “David McSwane Takes on the Media One More Time” (Westword Blogs online, Oct. 10, 2007); I’m fuckin’ pissed.
As reported by the Denver Post, the Colorado State University Board of Student Communications “admonish[ed]” McSwane “for ‘writing’ the offending words.”
As I see it, the board is encouraging journalists to not offend people, which is clearly the opposite point McSwane was trying to make: a zealous defense of free speech underscored by a perfect example of it (i.e., an extremely offensive, yet fully-protected, political statement).
The Denver Post also reported that James Landers, CSU journalism professor and interim chair of the board, said McSwane “violated two elements of the ethics code – using profane language in an editorial and using poor judgment in framing the editorial.”
First, how does one identify “profane” language?
Maybe it is done the same way the former Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Potter Stewart, once claimed he could identify hardcore pornography: “I know it when I see it.” But of course, even Justice Potter later found this position to be untenable.
Instead, maybe the question should be, “why the fuck does it matter if offensive words are used in a fucking editorial?”
More importantly, why is the use of the word “fuck” even offensive in the first place?
A Google search of the word “Fuck” reveals 69,800,000 hits (though, when done in all lowercase letters, it reveals only 67,000,000). Of course, when one throws into the mix “Fucker,” “Fucking,” “Fucked,” and “Fucko,” the result totals 149,914,200.
My answer: the word “fuck” retains its offensive value only because of stupid fucks who continue to make a scene when the word “fuck” is used in public discourse (e.g., James Landers, Larry Penley, and the entire CSU Board).
If those stupid fucks would just chill the fuck out, the fucking word would cease to be used in such context because its intended effect would be completely fucking lost. So, seriously, get a fucking clue.
Equally important, however, is that many ideas throughout history have been deemed offensive: equal rights for women, African descendants not being property, Jesus being (or not being) the Messiah, the world not being flat, etc.
Nonetheless, without the freedom to express an idea as one chooses, the idea itself cannot truly be examined – and at that point education and progress cease to flourish.
Second, Landers claimed that McSwane exercised “poor judgment in framing the editorial.”
What McSwane did was frame the editorial with a perfect example. This is brilliant writing.
Another great example of this sort of writing is Denver Post columnist Diane Carman’s article “Audacious. Profane. He won.”
In the article, she criticizes McSwane, yet as described by Michael Roberts himself, the article was written “in brief declarative snippets meant to emulate the punchy editorial in question.” Hence, like McSwane’s piece, it was an argument underscored by a great example in support of the argument.
So here’s a toast: to David McSwane, the Real American Hero, the true patriot – not for his political views, but rather, because he encouraged people to formulate an opinion and then make it known to the world.
I hope he continues on his journalistic path.
As for the advertisers that pulled their support from the Collegian, I think the Collegian should run an article listing those fuckers, so people like me can refuse to purchase their goods and services.
Jesse S. Hall is an attorney and resident of Denver, Colorado. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesse S. Hall