The Seattle Times loosens up on profanity

Crosscut | Seattle Weekly
Carrie Brownstein got salty in The Seattle Times’ Sunday magazine earlier this month, and Crosscut’s Barry Mitzman noticed: “And just so you don’t think I’m a total asshole…” the musician and “Portlandia” star told Paul de Barros. Now, you could debate whether that was actual profanity, but the coarse language still signals a shift for a paper that Mitzman says once retitled “The Last American Virgin” as “The Last American Nice Girls” in its pages.

Mitzman then embarks upon a project that sounds kind of fun: looking up every occurrence of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” in the paper.

Two of those words, “asshole” and “piss,” have been used with some frequency since 1990 (usually in quoted matter). “Piss” figured in an important local story in 2010. Other uses seemed to be accidental, and he couldn’t find a couple words at all.

While writing about his research, Mitzman takes a shot at Seattle Weekly, noting that he and de Barros both worked for the alt back when it didn’t work two specific cusswords “into every other sentence as the current staff does now.”

In a comedic memo published on Seattle Weekly’s blog, managing editor Caleb Hannan uses those two words in almost every other sentence as he tries to figure out “Who leaked?

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  • Reykjavik

    If you can use it in primetime network TV, it should be allowable in a newspaper. This idea of a “family” newspaper is ludicrous, as if kids actually read print these days.

  • peter911sc

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  • Ed Murrieta

    Asshole is not among George Carlin’s Seven Deadly Words. Those words are, for your edification: