In a nearly unprecedented move, the stodgy New York Times printed the f-word in its entirety — sans asterisks or dashes — leaving the full swear word on its pages to scandalize Sunday morning readers.
Accompanying a feature about writers' rooms, this weekend's T magazine featured the opening lines to Jonathan Lethem's forthcoming novel Dissident Gardens, which reads as such: "Quit fucking black cops or get booted from the Communist party." The Times, which goes through great, and often hilarious, lengths not to print all four of those obscene letters, left "fucking" without any asterisks, as you can see in the picture to the right.
It's unclear how or why this f-bomb made it past The Times's prude copy-editors. New York Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has yet to comment on the affair. Update: Sullivan has acknowledged the f-word retweeting a story about it on Twitter. When asked what that meant she responded. "Neither an endorsement nor a panic attack. More of a shrug."That line only appears in the print edition of the T magazine, which perhaps has different standards than the newspaper. And, notably, the online version of that article features zero f-bombs.
The Times, however, has never been consistent with its censorship of cuss words, as The Atlantic Wire's Jen Doll wrote about back when the paper refused to mention the blog "Shut the Fuck Up" on its esteemed pages. The paper, generally, avoids the word completely — even in quotes — paraphrasing the vulgarity instead. "As a general guideline, we try to avoid using dashes," one Times editor said back then.
Despite that policy when writing about bands, blogs, or podcasts, the organization has before let a "fuck" slide, when quoting Monica Lewinsky in September 1998:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.