Blogging and profanity
posted by Dan Filler
As I read through Dan Markel’s thoughtful post about SSRN, over on Prawfs, I stopped and lingered over his use of the phrase “shitty first draft.” Although I have not really been conscious of this before, profanity seems largely taboo, at least within the law blogging community. Not that it’s forbidden, mind you, but blogs feel positively Southern in this respect. (People surely curse down here, but typically only in the most informal social settings.) I didn’t think about Dan’s post again until I was skimming comments to one of Eugene Volokh’s posts and witnessed Greedy Clerk get chastised for describing Alito’s selection as “a clear ‘fuck you’ choice to the Democrats.”
I must concede that my sympathies lie with the swearers. Perhaps I was a free-range child, but I grew up cursing and loving it. Then I happened upon a job in a public defender office. Let’s just that say that when it comes to the use of lewd and profane language, those proverbial sailors and truckers will have to take a number.
I fully concede that cursing is no substitute for creative word choice. But I also think that both Dan’s and Greedy Clerk’s use of profanity convey an idea with particularity.
Why is it that we’re so shy when it comes to dirty talk? I suspect that lawyers generally (excluding, for the most part, trial lawyers) are risk averse, and law profs exceptionally so. Among other things, there are tenure committees to worry about. And I suspect that more than a few law profs dream about becoming federal judges. (I am pleased to say that my own fantasy life does not feature any Article III moments.)
I’ll probably stay decent as long as I’m visiting here at Co-Op (after all, I am staying at someone else’s house!) But don’t think I won’t be swearing up a storm in my head.