Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Are We Cool With P***y Now?

The front page of today's Philadelphia Inquirer features coverage of Ferguson and the rest of the country in the wake of the grand jury's decision not to put police officer Darren Wilson on trial for the killing of Michael Brown in August.

One of the stories on the front page is by the Associated Press based upon grand jury evidence, regarding the interaction between Wilson and Brown just before Brown was killed.

"I drew my gun," Wilson told the grand jury. "I said, 'Get back or I'm going to shoot you.'"

"He immediately grabs my gun and says, 'You are too much of a pussy to shoot me,' " Wilson added.

Is it acceptable to have that word on the front page of the newspaper?

On one hand, it's a quote. On the other hand, news outlets generally do not use such language, especially on the front page.

Television stations have been bleeping or otherwise concealing the term on air.

The Inquirer, ironically, has at least two mentions of the band Pussy Riot in the paper today.


Ramona Rauh said...

We've discussed in class the evolution of censorship and how as a society becomes accustomed and unoffended by a word, it makes a slow transition from being categorized as profanity to being used freely in media as acceptable vernacular. What we see here could be an example of just that. The author could've easily censored the quote, but instead of asterisks he printed the entire word. The transition could prove to be problematic because of the misogynistic meaning behind the word that many will still take offense in, but this could be the beginning stages of an acceptable word for journalism.

However, in the case of Pussy Riot, I believe that it should of course be exempt from censorship because it's what the band is called and a journalist should try to use plural nouns accurately. I also realize the dilemma that would arise if another name were really over-the-top filthy, but in that case it should be up to the authors' and newspapers' discretion whether to print or censor it.

Dan O'Neill said...

When it comes to using offensive language in the news, no matter where it may be located/placed at, there should always be a level of censorship. Meaning, using asterisks is probably the most acceptable way, because even though it already gives you the idea of what the word is, it doesn't fully tell you either. It's sort of just left up to the reader his/herself to make an inquiry about what the word is and why it was censored in the first place.

As for the word "p***y", it's not necessarily a word that should be used often. Not just in the media, but in general. Especially when it is referring to a way in how a man is being viewed as less-than-masculine. Not only is it offensive, but gives the wrong connotation. When you use the word for something like, say, "Pussy Riot", it's fine because that is the band's name. Even if it does offend, it's still the band's name and a news outlet can choose to use their names or not.

Faissal Darwish said...

The newspaper had to use that word since it is a quote, although they should have used asterisks.

At the same time, the newspaper did not have to put it on the front page; they could have easily put another quote. I have to admit, however, that the term is definitely eye-catching and would easily attract audiences since it is unusual for a newspaper to publicize it.

In regards to the band, the newspaper has no other choice but to publicize the word as it is part of the band's official name.