I read a news account about the young man who was killed while videotaping the Notre Dame football team’s practice. He was in a mobile loft high above the field, and there were very high winds that day. He died when the structure he was in collapsed. In an interesting twist on this story, the article quoted some of his last words, which he posted to his Twitter feed in the moments leading up to his death. CBS News reported his final Tweets to be "Gusts of wind up to 60 mph. Well today will be fun at work. I guess I've lived long enough." and, "Holy (blank). Holy (blank). This is terrifying." Of course, I suspect he didn’t actually write “Holy (blank),” I’m sure that was kindly censored for us by CBS. If I were a betting man, I’d say he either used the “s-word” or the “f-word” instead. I will warn you now that in a few paragraphs I will actually (horrors!) spell those words out for you, so if that’s going to bother you, don’t plan on reading this whole thing. You’re safe for at least a couple of paragraphs, though, so stick with me here.
Isn’t it interesting that reading the tragic account of someone’s death is deemed to be somehow less offensive to one’s sensibilities than it would be to read whatever curse word that person may have used shortly before his demise? Isn’t it somewhat ridiculous that some of the last words of this man who died far too young are deemed to be unsuitable for publication or broadcast? This poor bloke was terrified, quite likely (and regrettably, accurately) fearing for his life. The accident that killed him occurred within an hour of the “Holy (blank)” Tweet.
I wonder what the likelihood is of curse-words shortly before death. I imagine that in accidental-death situations, it’s probably staggeringly common, yet we still want to act as if these select words are somehow unacceptable. We set aside a relative handful of words as being naughty. I’ve never been able to really understand that.
I think in particular in a situation such as this, where some of the final thoughts of a human being have been recorded for eternity, we should all waive whatever stricture we might otherwise have and let those words be heard. One of this young man’s final thoughts was “Holy (blank).” In fact, he was scared enough even to utter it twice in his final Tweet, yet we as a society are apparently too sensitive to read such words in print.
There are unspeakable horrors printed each day on newsprint (or as in this case, online). The atrocities of war, the actions of a murderer and so forth are recounted for us, but when a young man who is about to die (and seems to know it) says “shit” or “fuck” (I warned you) or whatever it was that he said, we are to be protected from that. I just don’t get that.
I disagree with you on principle if you think that all of those so-called naughty words that we dare not utter on broadcasts or in print ought to be so stricken. I’m personally for all words being a-ok. I particularly disagree with you if those words cannot be uttered in proper context during a news account. Though I see it as a ridiculous double standard, I suppose I can accept that some of you (fools though you may be) find it inappropriate to show naked people on television (women would be my preference, beautiful, lithe…wait, what was my point?). But if the nudity is contextually news worthy and not shown for prurient purpose, can’t it be shown? I’m sure a breast or two has been exposed during a mammography or breastfeeding news story, and what’s wrong with that? I see this young man’s expletive in the same context. While you wouldn’t (I might, but you probably wouldn’t) want Brian Williams to open the NBC Nightly News with “It was a shitty day on Wall Street today, with the Dow plunging 500 points,” can’t you see the value in giving this young man’s (almost) last words a proper accounting? I can, and now that I’ve so eloquently elucidated this for you, I hope you can too.