Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 13, 2014

Wondering whether any dirty words still exist


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Sure, if you want you can watch an episode of Law and Order: SVU and see fictionalized accounts or “ripped-from-the-headlines” type of stories involving the crime mentioned. Other shows on multiple networks use it as a plot device, and it can be argued it’s used too often, but that’s a different argument.

No, the point here is that in a public forum I think it can be expected to have people in attendance exhibit some sense of decorum. And if that doesn’t happen, perhaps some remorse would be appreciated.

When I first started out as a full-time reporter in the Southern Tier almost 12 years ago I was at a meeting during which residents expressed their displeasure with a recent reassessment. One outspoken resident got quite animated and accused the town board in question of simply raising local values to make more money. The town supervisor had enough and told the person, “Sir, we do not rape you on your taxes.”

I was still very new and, honestly, I didn’t feel comfortable using the word. I also knew that the quote needed to be in the story. It was, but I used parentheses to turn the word to “cheat.”

The next day I actually was set to meet the supervisor for a different story. His first words to me were about how I censored him. I apologized profusely, but he said it wasn’t necessary. He realized he messed up, and he was glad I hadn’t embarrassed him in print for a temporary lapse in judgement. 

There was genuine remorse in his voice.

However, the voices of the citizens at the meetings I’ve attended, and yes, even the shows I choose to watch, at least in my opinion, just seem to fall back on the word like a punchline.

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