March 1, 2007

Dirty words.

Lefty blogs have way more of them than righty blogs. (Via Instapundit.) Do you care? It's obviously more the lefty style to talk dirty. It really doesn't mean anything to me. Just a matter of taste. What I do care about is clear, interesting writing. People who use lots of dirty words are often deficient in that respect. But that's also true of plenty of people who don't.

63 comments:

Revenant said...

It is hard to know what to make of this survey, since it doesn't say what *percentage* of the words are profanities. It also doesn't distinguish comments from posts.

Peter Palladas said...

I'm only surprised at #7. Do you guys really consider that a profanity?

Over here not a dinner party goes by without the hostess, at some point, asking whether she and the other women present should 'get their tits out for the lads'.

See Debrett's passim.

Simon said...

Peter, only people weened on Private Eye use passim like that. Which is why I use it frequently. ;)

CB said...

This seems generally right, but 18-1 sounds pretty high. I think the main reason is that the big lefty blogs get dozens or hundreds of comments on posts (and I think the comments are where most of the profanity is) while many of the big righty blogs either don't have comments or only get 10-20 comments per post.

Another reason might be that since there is a Republican in the White House, it is the lefties that are in a state of outrage--remember how angry the righties always were when Clinton was President.

Richard Dolan said...

Profanity is pretty tiresome and usually detracts from one's message. Unless you're talking about an unusually good writer with a real feel for language, it almost never works in any positive way. The only time I can remember when I thought it was an interesting move was during an opening statement by a well-known defense lawyer in a big federal case in NY. He was describing the Gov't's charges and told the jury: there's only one word that fits this indictment: Bullshit! Bullshit! (pounding the podium as he said it). It was so unexpected that everyone in the courtroom was riveted. The trial judge (George Pratt) didn't say anything. I've never tried anything like that myself, but I still remember that moment. The jury was transfixed, but I don't know whether in a good way (alas, as is the norm in fed court, his client was convicted on all counts).

George said...

When a writer uses an obscenity, it tells you that he's too intellectually lazy to express himself in an original way.

Of course, this excludes geniuses like Shakespeare, the filthiest f***in' bard of Avon.

Cole Porter, too...

Brush up your Shakespeare,
Start quoting him now.
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow.....
If your goil is a Washington Heights dream
Treat the kid to "A Midsummer Night Dream."
If she fights when her clothes you are mussing,
What are clothes? "Much Ado About Nussing."
If she says your behavior is heinous
Kick her right in the "Coriolanus."

Sissy Willis said...

As we blogged years ago in Pardon my French:

What bothers James Lileks about gutter language in the public square seems to be the fact that "there's a small child present":

"If naughty words crossed my lips, they would not necessarily require a road map. And, of course, that makes me an utter hypocrite, I suppose. So, you can say it at home, but Bono can't say it on network TV? Yes! You've grasped the nub of the gist, you have."

What bothers some of us, though, isn't the doggy doodoo connotations of gutter language per se so much as the poverty of language resources its excessive use betrays.

bearing said...

Instapunk's original challenge stated that the finding of lefties-use-more-profanity would prove that the righties are concerned with ideas, amd the lefties are obsessed with hateful invective.

Who's obsessing now? I wondered.

I find obscenity tiresome except when used sparingly. Carlin's seven dirty words are a useful proxy for "hatefulness," only a proxy for a certain coarse style (and how much of this is phrases such as "fucking awesome?" Not very classy, but not hateful either.)

Knowing the outcome of the "seven dirty words" experiment, I do wonder what seven words the lefties would choose as a proxy for hatefulness, were they to embark on a similar experiment...

bearing said...

... sorry, read "Carlin's seven dirty words are NOT a useful proxy for hatefulness..."

Beth said...

Instapunk's original challenge stated that the finding of lefties-use-more-profanity would prove that the righties are concerned with ideas, amd the lefties are obsessed with hateful invective.

All it proved is that Instapunk's a fracking idiot. (I've been enjoying Battlestar Galactica, can you tell?)

Christy said...

Bearing, you'll have to explain to me a little more fully how Carlin's 7 are not a proxy for hatefulness. They strike me as angry hateful words.

Ann asked if we care. No in the written word because the eye easily elides the f-bombs. Yet when spoken I feel as though I'm being pelted by stones. Could be cultural. I genuinely do not hear a lot of cussing. And I have been known to get in the face of men using foul language around kids and shutting them up. But that is my world.

A couple of years ago my then 8 year old nephew inappropriately blew up at another kid at one of his football games. The epithet used was "Baby!" How much more devastating for an 8 year old than one of the usual expletives.

Beth, I'm old fashioned. I still prefer frelling. (Farscape)

Freder Frederson said...

Better to use a little blue language than advocate genocide and the formation of death squads.

mcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mcg said...

Agreed. So go tell the Iranians to stop threatening the destruction of the Jews, will ya?

bearing said...

Christy, I realize I'm stretching pretty far to defend them here. I believe it's tasteless and disgusting, but not necessarily a proxy for "hate." Maybe a proxy for lack of imagination.

I think it's a cultural thing. That the right side and the left side have both become such echo chambers that the standards of discourse have evolved near-independently, and it is simply accepted on the left that this is how you write.

I suspect that given the choice to choose seven phrases that *they* would use as a hatefulness metric, the left would pick different ones.

That being said, the difference doesn't bode well for the echo chamber effect disappearing. I don't read lefty blogs much precisely because the profanity is so thick it's tiresome. I'd read them more if I didn't dislike that style so much.

Tully said...

They strike me as angry hateful words.

Aw, cmon, Christy. Even Carlin said that one of them doesn't belong. It's a friendly word! (I'll wager it's also the one that came in last in the word counts.)

What Richard Dolan said. Used very sparingly, such language has use and meaning. Used as it so often is, as a barrage or bombardment, it loses all effectiveness and simply indicates bad things about the lack of maturity and intellect of the bombardier.

Seven Machos said...

Armies are death squads.

Daryl Herbert said...

Better to use a little blue language than advocate genocide and the formation of death squads.

Yeah, like your pals in Hizb'allah, HAMAS, Fat'eh, and the brave Iraqi resistance that sets off bombs in marketplaces. Genocidal death squads, the lot of 'em--and you never want them to take a bullet. Where are your loyalties, Freder?

mcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mcg said...

Armies are death squads.
Utter nonsense.

Seven Machos said...

What are armies? Have you ever been in one or seen them operate? Their job is to kill people and break things. This is precisely why our army -- the best in the world -- has done such a subpar job at securing Iraq when expressly restricted from killing people and breaking things.

Sorry to hijack the thread.

Daryl Herbert said...

They strike me as angry hateful words.

No, swearing builds camaraderie when it's done by people who you agree with, and it makes you feel bad if they're outsiders.

So if you see a bunch of leftards at their stupid fucking clubhouse spewing profanities, it's because they want you to feel bad.

Fuck 'em, who cares what those dumb bastards think. Don't you feel closer to me already?

The reason most righties don't swear so much is, we're not interested in building a clubhouse. We're all individuals, and we're not looking for some Fenton Communications staffers to tell us what to do. We're not interested in getting worked up into a lather at how unfair it is that Amanda Marcotte has been smeared, we like to laugh at Patterico's total dismantling of the Glenns Greenwald.

MadisonMan said...

Dave needs to post here more often, apparently, to tilt the dirty blog (shameful!) total away from the left.

So if someone posts 1000000 f*cks -- just to post them -- how would that affect the totals?

I generally glaze right over the swear words, although I'll note who uses them. If there are too many, I'll just jump right over the commenter. I won't listen to it real life, why read it here?

tiggeril said...

Fuck 'em, who cares what those dumb bastards think. Don't you feel closer to me already?

Say it, don't spray it, dude. Jeez.

Henry said...

Better to use a little blue language than advocate genocide and the formation of death squads.

That's an either/or?

Joan said...

I'm not sure of the methodology, but I believe the count was only on posts and not comments, because there was a note on one blog that said they thought it was picking up usage on the comments as well.

mcg said...

What are armies? Have you ever been in one or seen them operate? Their job is to kill people and break things. This is precisely why our army -- the best in the world -- has done such a subpar job at securing Iraq when expressly restricted from killing people and breaking things.

Seven Machos, if you don't have the moral sophistication to distinguish between the strategy of a traditional army at war and a true death squad as it is historically considered, that's your problem, not ours. But don't go slandering our troops with your intellectual weakness.

mcg said...

Let's just be clear, you are suggesting that the death squads of, say, the Nazis or Khmer Rouge, truly bent on genocide, are not to be distinguished from our own army or those of other democratic nations.

If you want to stick by that, say so. Otherwise, admit that your little equivalence is utterly idiotic.

Seven Machos said...

mcg -- In your attempt to take the high road, you make my point.

A "death squad" is nothing more than an army that another (typically far left) group doesn't like. The most common use of "death squad" as I know the term is by leftists who want to de-legitimize the perfectly legitimate School of the Americas. It's all quite patronizing, really. Our army is an army. Armies that, for example, fight in a civil war against the good, earnest Sandinistas are death squads.

As an aside, what does a traditional army at war do exactly if it doesn't kill people and break things? Feed the poor? Plant trees?

Seven Machos said...

Definitions:

army. A group that kills people and breaks things that mcg likes, e.g., the American military in WWII.

death squad. A group that kills people and breaks things that mcg does not like, e.g., the German military in WWII.

mcg said...

Sigh. Seven Machos, your ignorance is showing. I am not suggesting that all of the Nazi forces were death squads just because they happened to be our enemy. On the contrary, the Nazis employed both traditional armies and death squads. The death squads often followed the traditional armies to carry out their indiscriminate killings after their armies had successfully invaded a new area.

Seven Machos said...

mcg -- Look, this is a semantic argument, and arguments over semantics are usually proxies for something deeper and more substantial.

I contend that an army is a death squad because armies kill people and break things. That's their sole reason for existing. All other negotiation can be handled by diplomats. I concede that our army is a very moral, ethical, humane death squad.

You won't find a bigger supporter of the United States military than me but you are simply wrong to imply that the U.S. military has not engaged in "indiscriminate" killings. Ask the people of Dresden, for example, or the people of Atlanta, or the people of My Lai. I put "indiscriminate" in "quotations marks" because the killings weren't, of course, indiscriminate at all. And to the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis, their killings by their armies were not indiscriminate.

mcg said...

mcg -- Look, this is a semantic argument, and arguments over semantics are usually proxies for something deeper and more substantial.

Right, like your insistence on illegitimate moral equivalences.

I contend that an army is a death squad because armies kill people and break things.

And you are wrong. Death squads and armies both kill people. But they don't have the same function. In fact, if a death squad breaks things, it's kind of a bonus. Their purpose is more focused on that killing thing.

I concede that our army is a very moral, ethical, humane death squad.

Oh, gee, I'm sure they would be grateful to hear that.

You won't find a bigger supporter of the United States military than me

You proved that to be utterly false when you equated them with death squads, you moron.

but you are simply wrong to imply that the U.S. military has not engaged in "indiscriminate" killings.

I'd be wrong if I actually did that. The only problem is, I never did. But unlike you, I don't do is paint the overwhelming noble work of the military with its few exceptions.

Dewave said...

Would anyone really be surprised at such a result? There is very much an 'angry left' that likes to gather in huge communities and rant and rave in hate filled invectives together.

Some liberals simply have to stay on a high of morally self righteous indigation, and their sense of moral superiority and constant outrage is what fuels a lot of the comments.

Of course, this 'study' doesn't mean much unless you look at the *percentages* of the words. I mean, the # of words posted at daily kos just dwarfs any right wing site.

If liberals post 20 times more words, but only 18 times more profanity, well, this study won't have been very conclusive.

Tim said...

"The death squads often followed the traditional armies to carry out their indiscriminate killings after their armies had successfully invaded a new area."

Two small points. While this was structurally true of the death squads, it wasn't operationally true. On the Eastern front, during the early years of the war in which the Germans were on the offensive, these units, commonly known as "Einsatzgruppen," would follow the German Army and, with the Army's support and cooperation, would round up Jews, Gypsies and others and then commit mass executions. This could only be described as "indiscriminent" to the degree that one thinks the Einsatzgruppen targets were sufficiently broad as to be effectively indiscriminent. Regardless, the Einsatzgruppen could not have done their jobs without the support of the German Army.

hdhouse said...

When the FCC was handing out fines to Howard Stern (no fan here but just sayin') there was a very good opinion expressed that observed that Stern at least didn't lie or obfuscate but told it as he saw it, however profanely.

Are individual dirty words more profane than an untrue sentence? Would this explain the right v. the left?

mcg said...

Tim, thanks for the correction and clarification. I'm glad I am not the only one here who can distinguish between armies and death squads. (Actually, I'm pretty sure all but one of us can.)

Seven Machos said...

mcg -- How would you define what a basic Marine platoon is trained to do?

Fatmouse said...

Seven Machos, you FUCKING idiot.

Let me explain the difference between armies and death squads.

An army's job is to make the enemy stop fighting.

A death squad's job is to kill you, wheter you surrender or fight.

mcg said...

Well, your question isn't a particularly good one, and yet it is useful nonetheless.

There is no one good answer to what the purpose of a marine platoon is. Its purpose is determined by war strategy. But usually it involves infiltrating, overtaking, and/or controlling a particular geographical location for its strategic value. Now because there are often people at that location who are willing to kill said Marines to prevent them from doing so, killing is often a necessary part of the method by which they accomplish that objective.

So killing is not the purpose, it is part of the method. For a death squad, killing is its purpose.

Seven Machos said...

You have set up an absurd strawman and attacked it.

You brought up the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis. Was the purpose and objective of the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge to kill people? Did they want to secure land, too? Did they have certain -- shall we say, to be charitable -- philosophical objectives? Or was it just a big death frenzy for the purpose of killing?

Fatmouse said...

Since you're stupid, I'll provide a simpler example.

You're in combat. You drop your gun and throw your hands up in surrender.

The marines will make sure it's not a trap, then take you prisoner.

The death squad will think, "wow, that made our job easier!" and blow your limited brains out.

mcg said...

You brought up the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis.

Yes, I did. And specifically, I brought up the death squads of the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis. And then when you confused the Nazi armies with Nazi death squads, I clarified.

Was the purpose and objective of the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge to kill people?

One of the objectives of the Khmer Rouge and the Nazis was to target and kill entire classes of people, yes. And they used death squads to do it.

But that was not their only objective. The Nazis were intent on expanding the reach of their empire. And for that they used traditional armies.

Did they want to secure land, too? Did they have certain -- shall we say, to be charitable -- philosophical objectives?

Yes, as I just said above, they did have other objectives, which is why death squads alone did not suffice.

Where's that straw man again? I'm not the one confusing political entities with military ones.

Beth said...

Yeah, like your pals in Hizb'allah, HAMAS, Fat'eh, and the brave Iraqi resistance that sets off bombs in marketplaces.

Hey, stop talking 'bout my friends like that! Gosh, can't a commie fascist Dhimmicrat liberal get a break around here?

Beth said...

Seven,

Marines don't kidnap dissident nuns, take them out into the woods, rape them, shoot them, and bury them in shallow graves. Death squads, trained at the "perfectly legitimate School of the Americas" do that. Your argument is as stupid as that of pacifists, who can't find a difference between just war and any way. It's all killing, isn't it?

Beth said...

"war," not "way"; damn those fracking typos.

Naked Lunch said...

Would anyone really be surprised at such a result? There is very much an 'angry left' that likes to gather in huge communities and rant and rave in hate filled invectives together.

The top 20 on this naughty word list just happen to be ones that the Right is scared stiff about - and it's what the knee-capping of Amanda Marcotte was all about. And after the last election, I can hardly blame them. And this is why the Right hates McCain; because he doesn't seem to share the same passion in their hatred of liberals.

Bruce Hayden said...

If there is a difference bettween left and right here, and I suspect there is because I don't run into that much profanity on the right side of the blogosphere, it may because the left seems to argue more from emotion and the right more from facts. That of course doesn't say that either side has a monopoly on either. But rather, it is a question of degree.

I must admit that my introduction to bloggging was through Eugene Volokh (volokh.com) when he mildly criticized my intemperate remarks in a cyber law listserve group. He suggested that I would make my point better if I were more temperate. I followed a link in his footer back to his blog, and discovered blogging then and there. And, I have tried to live up to those standards.

And he is right - calling someone an idiot or worse, as I see has been done in this thread, is counter productive. At least here, it doesn't win arguments, it just makes you look silly and juvenile, and suggest that you don't have any real arguments or facts and are calling names instead.

Bruce Hayden said...

Naked Lunch

Let me suggest that Amanda Marcotte's big problem was that she grossly insulted the religion of one of the biggest swing demographics in this country, one needed by any Democrat who wants to win the presidency. Though not fired, Edwards' two bloggers were essentially pushed out because keeping them would probably cost him millions of votes in the general election.

It is far easier to dump someone at this point in the campaign than a year from now, and the contents of their blogs was going to come out some time. Strategically, for the Edwards campaign, it was much better that it came out now.

But the virilent anti-Catholic rhetoric only made their dismissal that much more urgent. The reality is that the middle, as well as the right, is turned off by the type of language they used. And no candidate for the presidency can afford to have it attributed to his campaign.

It is not that they are afraid of those words - indeed, probably everyone here has used, for example, Carlin's seven words numerous times in the right situation. But there is a place for that type of language, and many don't feel that that includes political discource.

Naked Lunch said...

Bruce
This has been hashed, but as far as I know nobody that was reading her blog complained of anti-Catholicism until the day Edwards hired her. Whack.

mcg said...

Yes, but before the campaign her rants were confined to her personal echo-chamber. The audience expanded a bit when she signed with Edwards.

Seven Machos said...

So, when the United States kills hundreds of thousands of people in Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, that's just securing an important political objective. When Latin American people, Cambodian people, and German people kill hundreds of thousands of people, that's a death squad.

I reiterate that I am a conservative. I am a strong supporter of our military and what it does, which is kill and destroy. But I find this we're-good-when-we-kill but they-are-bad-when-they-kill distinction completely ridiculous.

I'll stop now.

Beth said...

"But I find this we're-good-when-we-kill but they-are-bad-when-they-kill distinction completely ridiculous."

Don't stop now, when you just got interesting. I find that last remark a lot more comprehensible than what you've said previously. But I'd still define death squad differently than the examples you give. Death squads exist in the shadows, and do a more sinister work. They drag people out of their homes, round up people and kill them. I'd describe them as extra-curricular to the institutional military.

When our military is sent on a mission like the bombing of Dresden, then it's fair game to call it a war crime, or a massacre, or whatever word works for you. And you're right that just being us doesn't convey morality on everything we do.

mcg said...

So, when the United States kills hundreds of thousands of people in Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, that's just securing an important political objective.

No, not "just". To some, the bombings were part of a strategy that ultimately ended the war. After all, nothing ends war casualties like victory. And it is commonly argued that Hiroshima and Nagasaki in particular saved potentially hundreds of thousands of lives, net, on both sides of the conflict.

When Latin American people, Cambodian people, and German people kill hundreds of thousands of people, that's a death squad.

No. Heck, that's not even a parallel construction. Whether you like it or not, it does indeed depend on the motive and the purpose.

Again, let's make this easy on you. When the Nazis conquered Poland, they used armies to do it. And in the process they killed people.

Then they went in with death squads and rounded up Jews, women, children, homosexuals, etc. etc. etc. and slaughtered them in mass graves. And this is key: it was after the particular military victory was secured.

Yes, the motives, purposes, and even the methods of the killing matter, if we're trying to distinguish between "armies" and "death squads". And it is utterly pathetic that you don't recognize that.

I reiterate that I am a conservative. I am a strong supporter of our military and what it does, which is kill and destroy.

Then why don't you repeat the line "armies are death squads" to the face of a few conscientious military men and see if they take it as the "support" you claim.

But I find this we're-good-when-we-kill but they-are-bad-when-they-kill distinction completely ridiculous.

I think that's a ridiculous distinction too. So it's a good thing I never made it.

I'll do you a favor and repeat myself, maybe expand a little bit. The Nazis, the Japanese, the Viet Cong, the Italians, etc. etc. all had armies. Our guys fought against them. They were our enemies, and yet they weren'd death squads! There goes the ol' "they are death squads if they're the bad guys" argument, doesn't it?

Furthermore, there are plenty of instances where we have committed atrocities and murders in the course of a military conflict. I have never denied that, either. Though it would seem I have a more favorable view of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki than you do, I am sure there are a number of atrocities on which we would agree.

But you're simply moving the goal posts here. You said "Armies are death squads." Turning it into some sort of longer analysis of the morality of war and its strategies and consequences is simply a distraction from the factual incorrectness of that statement.

RogerA said...

I clearly cant add much to this scholastic disputation re armies and death squads; however, as an ole army guy, the mission of an army is to "close with and destroy the enemy by close combat, fire and maneuver."

Hoosier Daddy said...

So, when the United States kills hundreds of thousands of people in Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, that's just securing an important political objective. When Latin American people, Cambodian people, and German people kill hundreds of thousands of people, that's a death squad.
It seems to me that you’re simply applying a moral equivalency standard here. When Poland surrendered to Germany, the Germans continued to slaughter the inhabitants and carried out a systematic extermination of Jews and ‘other undesirables’. When Germany surrendered, we stopped destroying their cities and began a systematic process of rebuilding their nation. I think that is the difference between an army and a death squad.

But I find this we're-good-when-we-kill but they-are-bad-when-they-kill distinction completely ridiculous.
Actually I find your moral equivalency completely ridiculous. By your rationale, there is no distinction between the off duty cop who killed the gunman in the Utah mall who walked around and randomly shot people.

I'll stop now.
Probably not a bad idea.

mcg said...

Making a distinction between armies and death squads ought to be simpler, not harder, to make than the distinction between standard wartime violence and war crimes.

Only loony extremists paint every wartime action on both sides of a conflict as a war crime. Even Seven Machos wouldn't do that. But serious-minded people don't paint every wartime action of the enemy as a war crime, either. Nor do they excuse every wartime action of our side as acceptable.

Equating armies and death squads reflects an inability to make an even simpler distinction. The entire purpose of a death squad is to commit acts which are commonly recognized as war crimes. Not so with traditional armies. That is not to say that armies don't sometimes commit war crimes; it is not, however, their purpose...

...unless, that is, you're the kind of person that thinks all military are war criminals. Surely someone like Seven Machos, who claims to support the military, doesn't believe that. And if so it would be wise for him to concede the falsity of his four words, "armies are death squads."

I will say this in his defense, though. When S.M. posted those four idiotic words I assumed he was some sort of radical lefty nutjob. He has since claimed to be a conservative; and I would not be inclined to believe him, except that when he said that the miltary's "job is to kill people and break things," I knew that he'd probably been listening to a little Rush Limbaugh :) So I'll take him at his word on that now.

Joe Baby said...

I find a difference between an expletive shared among friends (of which I'm generally on the receiving end) and those broadcast to a public forum.

I'm not surprised that my law school peers are so quick to rely on the naughty...but I am surprised that among the dozen-or-so times they've been dropped in front of professors, not one professor has protested.

One of the episodes was in a question to the Dean, before the entire 1L class...'twas ignored.

In my opinion, that's like someone dumping trash on the front stoop or taking a leak in a hallway, that absolute requires a gentle correction. But that's me.

Joe Baby said...

absolute-ly

Revenant said...

When Poland surrendered to Germany, the Germans continued to slaughter the inhabitants and carried out a systematic extermination of Jews and ‘other undesirables’. When Germany surrendered, we stopped destroying their cities and began a systematic process of rebuilding their nation. I think that is the difference between an army and a death squad.

Well said.

Christy said...

Is that why they are called Blue States?

hdhouse said...

ohhh the ultimate dirty words:


THIRD TERM


or

I like washingtun jus fine. think i'll jus stayon

mcg said...

CHENEY-BOLTON '08!
There's a dirty word or two for ya.
Does that rise to the level of fighting words?