Words Get in the Way

When it comes to printing profanities, the Rocky Mountain News is consistently inconsistent, as two recent articles demonstrate.

In the Rocky's March 10 issue, media writer Dave Kopel's column equated the approach of Paul Campos, a left leaner who's among the tab's regular opinion-meisters, with that of right-wing syndicated shrieker Ann Coulter. Along the way, he noted the recent Coulter appearance in which she referred to Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards as a "faggot" -- and to the paper's credit, this word was actually printed as it appears here.

The term may have offended a few readers with tender sensibilities, but that's preferable to fostering confusion. I first heard about Coulter's ill-advised crack in a broadcast report that declared she'd used "an f-word" -- and (no surprise) "faggot" wasn't the first f-word that came to mind.

In the March 12 edition, though, the Rocky tiptoed around a profane quote in a manner that was wholly ridiculous.

"Win of the Decade at Arco," the article in question, concerned the Denver Nuggets' first victory at Sacramento's Arco Arena since 1997. A few paragraphs from the top, Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony was quoted as follows: "It's crazy to never win in this building... I know it's a tough building, but (darn)."

"Darn"? Why not "golly"? Or "gee willikers"?

This isn't to suggest that the Rocky was in the wrong for not publishing the word "shit," if that is indeed what Anthony said. (If "damn" was the word in question, there's no excuse.) The piece appeared in the sports section, where there's at least the possibility that kids might have been reading; in contrast, Kopel's offering turned up on the opinion page, where children fear to tread. Nevertheless, tossing in a "darn" to complete this comment makes everyone look stupid. Either the quote should have been clipped off after "It's crazy to never win in this building" to avoid the problem, or something else should have been substituted for "darn;" if not "sh--," then at least "expletive."

I know it's a tough situation, but darn. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts