I've got a question for your parents: would you rather your kid learned a euphemism for the f-word or read about rape and murder? Go ahead, I'll give you a few seconds. It shouldn't take long. In the meantime, you might want to steer clear of the New York Times.
In a disagreement with website STFU Parents this week, the Grey Lady, she who has long proclaimed herself the place to find "all the news that's fit to print" has revealed its decision that it's not "fitting" to print even the vaguest references to curse words lest they "offend" the venerable newspaper's "younger readers."
Essentially the New York Times has just informed the parents of America that it is far scarier that our kids learn a euphemism for f--k than that they read that three American soldiers were murdered for no reason (on the front page of the website yesterday) or about the man who chopped an 8-year-old boy up into little pieces and stuck him in the freezer (child killer Levi Aron made the NY section yesterday).
Excuse me, parents, if you think the latter is better, please do not send your child to play with mine. I'm not ready to tell my 7-year-old why evil men kill 8-year-old children.
I am OK with a conversation about why certain words are not appropriate in polite company. In fact, we had it just this week. She said "hell" and when I told her it was not a nice word, she mentioned the TV show Hell's Kitchen which her father and I both watch. It developed into an interesting discussion, and we both came out enlightened.
These conversations are what euphemisms were made for ... because we do have to sanitize certain adult things for children, but we can't make them all go away. I find it rather insulting to my intelligence that the Times -- of all places -- is telling parents they can't handle a conversation about the term STFU.
The paper's "policy" came to light this week only because of a story that made reference to STFU Parents' tagline without credit to its source. Blogger B was understandbly upset and wrote to the paper asking for credit for her words. As a writer, I was annoyed on her behalf. As a parent, I'm incensed by the response that they blatantly refuse to use a euphemism for the f-bomb in an effort to protect kids ... even while they told B "Granted, we aren't the parents of young readers."
That's right, newspaper editors are not the parents of our children. Their jobs are to convey the news in a relatively classy way -- hence the use of a euphemism rather than the actual expletive. Our job is to police what our kids read, hear, and see.
So, I don't let my 7-year-old read The New York Times. She isn't ready to learn what happened to poor little Leiby Kletzy at the hands of Levi Aron. But if she hears the name LMFAO on the radio, I'm not going to scream and cry and call the FCC. I'm going to tell her we don't say f--k ... at least not in front of Grandma.
What do you think of the Times' extreme take on protecting our kids from curse words?
Image via GranniesKitchen/Flickr