I dedicate this post to the late George Carlin, comedian, amateur linguist, chronicler of annoying human behavior.
I find “f*ck” really fucking annoying. I’m not even talking about its usage in mass media publications like the New York Times or CNN.com, which adhere to certain rules of journalism/style (more on that below). I’m talking about regular folks using “f*ck” in emails, IM conversations, blogs, and other throwaway media. Why not just write “fuck”? If you morally object to cursing, shouldn’t you write “fudge”? Or are you afraid it makes you look like a sissy? Maybe you’re trying to outsmart auto-censoring rules. Try using spaces: “f u c k”. Is “the f-word” not edgy enough for you? You want people to think you’re cool enough to make it 75% of the way there, but need to make sure you don’t cross the line, right? If so, you’re an idiot, because nothing says uncool more than going right up to the edge and then backing off. Perhaps you’re the type of person who holds up your index, middle, and ring fingers and tells people to “read between the lines”.
I also find it funny that the rules of asterisking curse words are haphazard. For example, “f*ck” and “b*tch” omit the vowel, but “a**hole” omits the consonants. Why is that? Why isn’t it “*sshole” (or, more prudently, “*ssh*l*”)? Also, I sometimes see “b!tch”, which I admit is better (or at least more creative) than “b*tch” because the exclamation looks like an upside-down “i”. Clever. Maybe instead of “f*ck”, use “fnck”, since “n” is kind of an upside-down “u”. 87.5% of the way there!
As for mass media publications, who are you kidding? Your standards have been dropping like a rock in your desperate attempts to retain dwindling readership. Why keep this standard? Maybe you could use the “f u c k” suggestion I gave above. At least that preserves the full integrity of the word, without actually having to use “fuck”. Might even win you some new readers. What if you’re running an article about a group called “Families Utilizing Conservative Knowledge”? Is it OK to refer to them as “F.U.C.K.”? Or do you have to use “F.*.C.K.”? That’s just plain silly. To be clear, I’m not asking that you actually use “fuck” as a modifier yourself. I don’t expect to see a Times headline like “White House Fucking Tired of Public Option Debate”. I’m saying that if you’re an official, objective record keeper of our times, you shouldn’t shy away from using “fuck” if it’s part of someone’s actual quote. We’re all adults here. We understand context.
One last thing, for the grammatical purists among you: shouldn’t it be “f’ck”?