Profane language is still language.

Chuck Wendig gives us the news of Clean Reader, an app that allows the user to read ebooks with the swear words filtered out. You might guess that a lot of us don’t like this. You’d be right.

I am an author where much of my work utilizes profanity. Because fuck yeah, profanity. Profanity is a circus of language. It’s a drunken trapeze act. It’s clowns on fire. And let’s be clear up front: profanity is not separate from language. It is not lazy language. It is language. Just another part of it. Vulgarity has merit. It is expressive. It is emotive. It is metaphor.

Yes. I agree with this. Profanity is language. We’re talking about actual words that real people use in their daily lives to communicate their ideas. The dividing line between supposedly clean language and filthy language is strictly arbitrary. If you read a book that was written with words like shit, fuck, bitch, ass, hell, damn, cunt, and cocksucker present, but read it with those words switched out with other, supposedly kid-friendly words, you lose a certain amount of expression, emotion, metaphor and characterization from the content. The book tends not to be as effective with the profanity taken out.

That said, I don’t really have an opinion on whether this app is or should be legal. I’m not interested in talking about whether it’s morally wrong for someone to sell this app, or use it. I think this thing is completely fucking ridiculous, and if you think you’d enjoy my books (for example) more with the f-bombs taken out, I don’t think you’d really enjoy my books either way. I’ll show you a screencap from Clean Reader’s blog that gives a good example of the absurdity of focusing on profanity:



If you’re having trouble reading the text on that image, this is what it says:

“Game of Thrones 5 book bundle is on sale for the next 5 hours. Only $19.99 for the series. That’s 50% off the normal price. Act fast before the sale ends! And read it with Clean Reader so you won’t have to read any of the swear words in the series!”

If you’re thinking you’ve been wanting to read the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, except they have so much nasty language, you should probably ask yourself what it is, exactly, that bothers you so much about those monosyllabic words.

By all means, let’s read about people killing each other! Here’s a guy getting his head cut off in front of a crowd that includes his own daughters! Here’s another guy who lets his guards gang-rape his teenage son’s wife while the son watches, and then forces the son to participate! Here’s a woman and her teenage son being murdered at her brother’s wedding! Here’s a guy whose penis was chopped off and sent in a box to his father! Here’s a grown man chucking a defenseless little boy out of a high window because the boy saw him fooling around with his twin sister! (Would it bother you more if I wrote “fucking” instead of “fooling around with”?) Here’s a woman who likes to burn people alive! Here’s an old man who’s been sexually abusing his daughters for decades, and sacrifices his newborn sons to the Army of the Undead! Look at this teenage king who orders his bodyguard to beat up a defenseless girl! Here’s a mentally handicapped woman who was gang-raped during a riot! Look, here’s a woman trying to throw her niece to her death because she thinks the girl is fooling around with the aunt’s new husband! And now the husband chucks his wife to her death, without even giving her niece a chance to leave the room! Here’s a young woman being forced to fight a fully grown bear with a blunt sword and no armor! She bit a man’s ear off earlier that day because he tried to rape her.

You want to read about all those horrible things, but you don’t want to see the word CUNT on the page? Think about that for a while. Ask yourself why that is.

50 Shades of Bullshit

E.L. James, what is that I don’t even.

Mummy porn writer EL James has threatened a housewife with legal action for throwing saucy Fifty Shades of Grey parties.

Tina Winters, 45, wanted to pass on tips and sell lingerie but lawyers told her to stop using the novel as a theme.

This is the best part, though:

EL James’ agent Valerie Hoskins said the legal letter was not personal, adding: “You can’t just hijack something someone else owns.”

This agent is representing an author who made a fortune from writing modified fanfic. She wrote a crappy book series that owes its commercial success to another crappy book series which owes its viability to the popularity of fantasy elements which have been evolving in the public imagination since Bram Stoker wrote Dracula.

This is an author who is standing on the shoulders of a bigger person who in turn stands on the shoulders of multiple giants. Robin McKinley did a better job with sympathetic vampires than Stephenie Meyer, and you don’t need to scratch very deep into the erotic fiction community to find writers who do a better job with kinky sex than E.L. James.

Yet she feels so incredibly threatened by a woman in Coventry selling lingerie.

“They just picked on the wrong guy this time.”

Todd Stave, son of an abortion provider and landlord to Dr. Carhart’s clinic in Germantown, draws the line at anti-choice crazies showing up at his daughter’s middle school:

Rather than be intimidated or back down from this bullying, Stave chose to give anti-choicers a taste of their own medicine. He started taking down the names and phone numbers of the people who called him in protest and had volunteers call those people back to “thank them for their thoughts and tell them, ‘No, he will not be shutting Dr. Carhart down,'” Rachel Maddow reported last night. (Legally, he couldn’t do that even if he wanted to.) Stave also set up a website that responds to anti-abortion protesters and offers resources for victims of their bullying.

Watch the video of his appearance with Rachel Maddow. This is what courage looks like.


Friday Fuckery

Via Robin Marty, this is just a little bit too appropriate:

The mother of a three-year old named Paisley, who made shock waves across the Internet this week for donning a Pretty Woman-inspired prostitute outfit during a promo for Toddlers & Tiaras, says she will donate the scandalous get-up in question…

… to Georgia Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization Dickey refers to as “Paisley’s charity.” The group states its mission as “protecting innocent life from fertilization until natural death.”

Nothing says “protect innocent life” like a toddler-sized hooker costume. Nothing promotes the joy and power of motherhood quite like parading a 3-year-old on stage in said hooker costume. Dare I even ask why Georgia Right to Life is “Paisley’s charity” according to her mother? Were they the ones who successfully talked Wendy Dickey out of aborting the embryo which later became Paisley? And is Georgia Right to Life going to take the hooker costume and auction it off for money to keep on bullying women into having more babies?
One might be forgiven for getting the impression that anti-choicers have dysfunctional attitudes about female sexuality, children, and especially female children. Just think: in about another nine years (or as few as six!), she’ll be old enough to impregnate.

America does not owe AAPLOG members a living.

Robin Marty shows us the latest round of surely-you-jest absurdity in the battle over abortion rights in Kansas. It appears of AAPLOG, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are filing to appeal the federal injunction against the enforcement of TRAP laws, which would effectively shut down most abortion clinics. In short, their lawsuit says, “Oh yes they CAN shut down the abortion clinics in Kansas!” What is their legal standing in the case, you ask? I’ll give you the full quote from NECN:

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists filed a motion to intervene in the case Monday, along with a notice of its appeal of the injunction. The group claims it has legal standing in the case because its members in Kansas are losing childbirth-related business to abortion clinics. It also says its members are placed at a competitive disadvantage because abortion providers pass along the costs of any complications or medical care after abortions to other doctors.

Is this an argument against abortion rights now? “We need to force women to have babies because baby-catching docs need to make a living”?

Fine, this is just their foot-in-the-door argument to get their case into court. They want to see the TRAP laws enforced because they’re against abortion, full stop. There are plenty of OB/GYNs who do mostly maternity care, don’t provide abortions, and are pro-choice. They seem to be more concerned with how they’re already working a ridiculous number of hours per week with the patients they already have, rather than whining about how they’d have so much more business if only women didn’t have the right to choose.

In order to get their case into court, however, they will need to convince a judge of this “taking away our business” malarkey. This “competitive disadvantage” idea is also quite bizarre. Abortion providers do follow-up appointments with their patients to see how they’re recovering. Now, if a woman has a hemorrhage or a sudden life-threatening infection after an abortion, she will need to go to the emergency room. A woman who suffers major complications after giving birth will also go to the emergency room and will be cared for by doctors other than the OB/GYN who provided her L&D care. We could just as easily say that abortion providers are at a competitive disadvantage to L&D care providers because the latter group don’t have to deal with hordes of protesters terrorizing their clinics.

Does AAPLOG also try to shut down midwifery practices on the grounds that—no, scratch that thought, I don’t want to give them ideas.

Seriously, though, the idea that abortion providers are in competition with maternity care providers assumes that society is obligated to provide the maternity docs with as much business as possible. It assumes that women not only are not allowed to decide how to plan their families, they’re also not allowed to decide how to spend their money. An abortion costs a few hundred dollars. Having a baby at a hospital can run you into the $10k-20k-and-up range, but that’s not why women have abortions. The reason that women have abortions is because they have unwanted pregnancies. We’re not just talking about a product that’s cheaper than the alternative. This is about women making decisions for their lives. The ability of certain doctors to maintain their customer base does not come into that decision.

Demanding handwritten thank-you notes in a world of viral emails

About yesterday’s post?

Oh, it’s real, all right. This is not a hoax.

Shine tells us:

When Withers received the email (Bourne sent it three times to be sure) she did what anyone would do: she forwarded it to a few friends to share in the shock. What was the alternative —respond with a ‘frowny’ face? But instead of simply offering advice, some anonymous friend got pro-active and forwarded Bourne’s e-attack, launching a viral sensation in a matter of hours. Now everyone in the Western Hemisphere has laid eyes on Bourne’s email.

In a way, it’s the ultimate revenge on a mother-in-law who needed to be put in her place after such power-mongering. But it’s not going to make for smooth wedding. Bourne has been labeled the mother-in-law from hell by media outlets and Withers’ father Alan has fueled the fire  by publicly calling Bourne “Miss fancy pants.” Now parents on both sides of the couple are feuding and nobody’s manners are in check. Suggestion for Heidi and Freddie, her groom: elope.

I think calling her “Miss fancy pants” is way too gentle, personally.

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Classist, hostile control freak lectures stepson’s fiance on good manners.

As much as I lecture here on etiquette, I think it’s important to remember that behind every rule of good manners there should be some connection to the real world, and when the times change enough that those connections no longer apply, then the etiquette point in question needs to be reconsidered. The purpose of good manners is ultimately to make other people comfortable. If you’re using “manners” to make someone feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, then you’re doing it wrong.

There’s a post on Jezebel today about an email (which may or may not be real) that a British woman received from her fiance’s step-mother, and, assuming it’s real, it is a fascinating display of how proper etiquette is so easily abused. There are a lot of comments on the article saying, “Well, her tone is out of line, but it’s good advice she’s giving and the daughter-in-law-to-be is obviously very rude and needs to learn some things.” This is assuming that the recipient really is as obnoxious and ill-intentioned as the letter makes her out to be, and I would argue that the letter writer exhibits an attitude that begs a critical view.

Now, maybe this is just a culture that I don’t sufficiently understand. After all, I’m a metropolitan mid-Atlantic American; we’re not sufficiently concerned with manners for the South, and not sufficiently concerned with gentility for the North, and we’ve long since lost our British ancestors’ sense of propriety. Meanwhile I’ve been spoiled by the Albanian sense of hospitality, and I will tell you what, there are parts of that culture that make me tear my hair out, but they make a genuine effort to make their guests feel welcome and comfortable. I guess that’s a gene that’s been repeatedly reinforced in the Albanian population but conspicuously absent from some parts of the British upper crust.

So, let’s go over this sucker point by point. Weapons-grade sarcasm ahead!

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

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Someone has not spent much time among Harry Potter fans.

The Dish quotes someone named Tamar Szebo Gendler who thinks she can tell J.K. Rowling what not to say about her own characters:

As far as textual evidence goes, it’s clear that “Dumbledore is gay” is not a primary truth in Harry Potter: that sentence appears nowhere in the 4,100 or so canonical pages. So the question is whether it is a secondary truth. … [O]ur best evidence here is what Rowling herself said. But why should that matter? As readers have complained: “If the series is truly at an end, then the author no longer possesses the authority to create new thoughts, feelings, and realities for those characters. And, indeed, this sort of view of authorial authority is held by a number of leading critics of authorial intent. They point out that language is a social creation, and that authors do not have the power simply to make words mean what they choose. By this reasoning, it’s not up to Rowling to say whether Dumbledore is gay: her texts need to be allowed to speak for themselves, and each of her readers is a qualified listener.

Oh, no, it’s not like J.K. Rowling created Dumbledore, or wrote the Harry Potter series, or anything.

In case you haven’t read the series and don’t have many friends who can’t resist talking about it, there are spoilers below the jump. Proceed with caution.

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Christofascist Dumbfuckery

Oh, this is freaking rich. Ed Brayton shows us this gem (and by gem I mean turd) from Bryan Fischer, warrior for Jebus:

That Bryan Fischer column saying it was okay to slaughter the Native Americans because they were so immoral has been pulled down from the AFA site and so has the response column written by another AFA staffer. Fischer rationalizes the whole thing:

So this is a conversation that needs to take place. But based on the reaction to my column of Tuesday, America is not mature enough right now for that robust dialogue to occur.

Fortunately it’s late enough in the morning that I’ve already finished my coffee, or else it might have been sprayed into the keyboard.

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