NYT taboo avoidance fail

An exchange on ADS-L, started by Larry Horn, who reported this item from the NYT (“Montauk’s Hipster Fatigue”, by Jim Rutenberg) today (pay-off at the end):

So, these signs have been popping up around the East End [of Montauk, Long Island]: a picture of a hat with a red slash through it.

Not just any hat, mind you, but a fedora.

… At its most superficial level, the fedora featured in the signs represents your basic hipster. And to some extent, it’s just part of what is shaping up as a countrywide anti-hipster movement. Something about artisanal tattoos; a bespoke, frontiersman beard; and, yes, a fedora perched atop the head just so is sending some people around the bend.

In these parts, the image of the hipster is also a stand-in for a more deeply seated suspicion that the whole look provides cover for a more privileged crowd that is intent upon importing to your neighborhood higher real estate, food and drink prices — and a new attitude that says, “I’m richer than you, I’m hipper than you and, gosh darn it, some things are going to change around here.”

As the Web site Diehipster.com puts it in a diatribe aimed at urban-based hipsters, “You’ve accomplished nothing over the last decade but displaced hard-working families, old-time residents and newly arrived immigrants who do not seek attention like you [Offensive Adjective Inappropriate for Family Newspaper].”

Just what offensive adjective?, you wonder. As well you might.

Ben Zimmer tracked down the relevant part of the DieHipster site, here:

You clueless wanna-be urban fucks aren’t fooling any of us real New Yorkers. You’ve accomplished nothing over the last decade but displaced hard working families, old time residents, and newly arrived immigrants who do not seek attention like you cocksuckers.

Ah, that wonderful English adjective cocksuckers (in its plural form, of course, and serving as the object of the preposition like).

Adjective, noun, who really cares? Not Jim Rutenberg and/or his editors.

The NYT generally tries to avoid taboo avoidance inside square brackets, but they let this one through. There were other ways they could have gone, the most subtle of which would have been the out-of-quotes paraphrase (which they’ve used on other occasions), along the lines of:

“…  and newly arrived immigrants who do not seek attention like you” fools.

Maybe things are different in the Fashion & Style section.

 

4 Responses to “NYT taboo avoidance fail”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    In e-mail, Larry Horn comments waggishly on my suggested out-of-quotes paraphrase:

    Not specific enough. I’d have gone for

    “… and newly arrived immigrants who do not seek attention like you” fellators.

  2. This Week’s Language Blog Roundup: Mars, Olympics, and more | Wordnik Says:

    [...] New York Times had some taboo avoidance fail this week, as explained by Arnold Zwicky: “Ah, that wonderful English adjective cocksuckers (in its plural form, of course, and serving as [...]

  3. Adjectives « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    [...] I was reminded of the NYT‘s use of adjective to refer to the word cocksuckers, reported on here. I’m beginning to understand what’s going on [...]

  4. Best of Language Blog Roundup 2012 | Wordnik Says:

    [...] noun cocksuckers as “Offensive Adjective Inappropriate for Family Newspaper.” As Arnold Zwicky wrote, “Adjective, noun, who really cares?” The NYT then refused to print the name of the website, [...]

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