Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beware the F-Word

Oh, irony of ironies.

Last night, a small news story was posted to the New York Magazine website, featuring a shocking collection of words.

The news item, which concerned itself with two rival schools of journalism in this great city of ours, sent my eyebrows WAY up to my hairline.

Not because of what it purported to be about (who cares, after all, after the pissing matches of graduate programs), but because it featured HOBB (whom loyal readers know to be Husband of Bungalow Babe and who is a professor at one of these schools), using a word that he rarely uses in real life.

Yes, it's the biggest and baddest cuss word there is, folks, the ultimate naughty thing to say, beginning with an F, and ending with a UCK.

And it ain't Firetruck.

Now, here's the thang:

The word that HOBB is quoted as using is actually one of my personal faves, the equivalent of the coveted blank Scrabble tile, an all-purpose, pithy, monosyllabic, blunt and utterly vulgar word that sounds good in a variety of settings and situations.

Bang your knee under the table as you're standing up exactly in that horribly painful spot that makes you black out and want to die?

Bump unexpectedly into your ex-boyfriend at the Halloween parade in the Village only to realize that he's holding hands with a guy who reminds you of your father?

Some drug addict darts in front of your moving vehicle and you swerve, nearly killing a mom with a baby stroller?

I rest my case.

The point is, I have a healthy relationship with the F-word, much to the dismay of HOBB who has accused me of being afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome due to my fondness of it.

So, returning to last night, I was stunned to discover him using the F-word...but worse, far worse.

He was quoted using it -- a university professor (and religion writer and publicly Orthodox Jew, to boot) -- in the pages of New York, which did readers a favor by posting the item online before the print issue hit the stands.

The context was his commentary on journalism education that seeks to teach the new bells and whistles of the medium before the basics.

To convey his point, he reportedly told his Reporting and Writing Class earlier this year, "F-word New Media." One of his students dutifully wrote this piece of instruction down and anonymously conveyed it to the reporter from New York.

Naturally, HOBB's pronouncement is the money quote and it instantly went viral, due in small part, to me, the perversely proud wife, who blasted it out to a group of friends and select cool family friends.

Today, you'll find it charmingly referenced in various places online in blogs and websites that care about pissing matches between graduate journalism programs. In the comment log to the New York article, HOBB has both defenders and detractors.

Some find HOBB to be a dinosaur, a Luddite, a fuddy-duddy. Amusingly, others bring examples of other important technological inventions (the phone, the automobile, moving pictures) that were similarly pooh-poohed by those who lacked vision.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the rage-soaked, hostile invective by commentors on a couple of the other blogs, citizens of cyberspace who found HOBB's view so egregious that they were moved to hateful, vicious, even violent-sounding posts.

They became ageist, calling him an old man, which he certainly isn't.

They turned the F-word on him.

They sounded like grounded teens getting really pissed at their parents.

This, I found curious.

Was it HOBB's use of the F-word, I wondered? Did that raise the blood pressure of readers? Supposing he had used a slightly different choice of words, such as -- "I don't really like New Media," instead of "F- New Media?"

But I'm the first to admit it. Positioning the F-word next to "New Media" has a jaunty, sloganistic ring to it. Sounds like a fundraising concept for the J-School, something cool to put on t-shirts, perhaps.

F*** New Media!

Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Class of 2009

Anyway, the more I pondered the apoplectic reaction of some readers, the more I wondered who the true Luddites were.

I also wondered how our home environment would change now that HOBB's secret is out of the bag.

Despite claiming to abstain, he is indeed a public practitioner of the F-word.

I'm not the only one who needs to wash her mouth out.

But yet another secret has stayed largely discovered by those writing about HOBB'S public Tourette's attack: this allegedly anti-New Media prof is married to a practitioner of the New Media. (Duh!!! You're reading her blog!)

And with that tantalizing - not to mention, ironic -- little tidbit, his words take on a whole new dimension.

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