From Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky, a tale from the Not Always Right site (about obtuse or ill-behaved customers), with a lot of asterisked material:

[from Portland OR] (I’m working at the entrance of a local heritage fair when a white pickup truck pulls up. The driver, a large middle-aged man, gets out and stomps towards my desk.)

Customer: *slams his hands on the table* “What the f*** do you Mexicans think you’re doing?”

Me: *confused* “Sir, we—”

Customer: “Look, I don’t want you d*** w******* here in the first place. I want you all back over the border where you belong!”

Me: “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You’re being very offensive, and this is—”

Customer: “But if you’re going to come to my godd*** country, you’re going to act like real Americans and not fly those f***ing Mexican flags and speak that s***-eating language, and you aren’t gonna celebrate being a bunch of f***ing foreigners!”

Me: “Security to entrance!”

Customer: *jumps back into his car and starts driving off* “Go back to Mexico!”

(The racist driver never returned. The heritage event in question, by the way, was the Scottish Highland Games.) [hence this story has been titled “Your Bigotry Is Kilting Me”]

Look back at the customer’s second turn in this exchange. What’s been asterisked out? In particular, “you damn what“?

Yes, “you damn wetbacks”. Either the writer of the story or the editors of the website thought that wetback has become an unprintable slur. So readers are protected from it as well as fuck, shit, and (even) damn. Far too much asterisking going on here, to the point of obscurity (see the Guardian‘s take on the matter, here).

Then there are the rabidly anti-Mexican sentiments the customer was so free to dispense. Sadly, not at all a rare thing these days, right up there with anti-Muslim and anti-gay ravings (it’s distressing to read comments on the web about the Chick-fil-A story, which go all the way to people calling for faggots to be put to death), not to mention anti-black and anti-woman ravings. (My dismay is not about the language, but about the attitude it expresses.)

[Note added later: the counterpart to the Not Always Right site is the Not Always Working site, about workers.]

8 Responses to “Cursing”

  1. Robert Says:

    To me the most puzzling one is “godd*** “. (Not in the sense that I don’t know what it represents, but it strikes me as an odd form.)

  2. Kathryn B Says:

    ah, yes Old Portland. I know it well. the truck guy is completely secure in his belief that he is a Fine Upstanding Citizen. he is not an aberration, he is in fact expressing the prevailing culture he moves in.

  3. the ridger Says:

    That’s very much the TBS form of censorship. “God” is left in, much else is removed.


    Hello, professor and thank you for your interesting article.
    After reading it I tried to figure out what the words “heritage fair” mean. Now I know it`s an event that focuses on the history of pupils ` motherland. But I still don`t clearly understand what this heritage fair words mean.
    F.e. do the participants sell their works? It`s just that I though “fair” is the place to sell and it puzzled me.
    And google doesn`t give any sober information on what the “heritage event” means. I suppose it a kind of historical-cultural event that promotes the historical roots of the place.
    Please, help!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: