Wilder: There's a time and a place for profanity

Binghamton University's student-run newspaper Pipe Dream published an editorial on Feb. 23 criticizing the administration's response to the recent academic scandal embroiling the men's basketball team.

The editorial was well-written and poignant, and it seemed as though each and every sentence was given careful thought.

Up until the final four words, that is.

The editors at Pipe Dream topped off the otherwise great editorial with this sentence: "[BU President Lois] DeFleur f----- us all." Except in Pipe Dream, the profanity itself was printed.

Did the editors have the right to print a vulgarity? Absolutely. Should they have? I don't think so.

The editorial was undoubtedly daring; Pipe Dream belittled the pathetic attempt at damage control on the parts of DeFleur and Provost Mary Ann Swain. Morals, honor and integrity were touted as qualities sorely lacked by the administration.

Then, the authors got lazy, obtusely transitioning to the recent Tiger Woods scandal in order to set up the closing sentence with the magic word, sullying the moral pulpit from which they preached. In short, they should have censored their censure.

Yes, the conclusion was a succinct, bold way to reiterate the paper's stance. That doesn't make it right.

In the current times, curse words just aren't as offensive as they used to be. The prevalence of inflammatory language in movies, music and banter with friends effectively numbs many students to cursing before they even reach college. It's likely that those who read Pipe Dream's editorial hardly were fazed by the profanity.

My issue with their decision to use a vulgarity is this: in order to be able to decry the professionalism and integrity of others, a paper must strive to exude similar qualities itself. Cursing when trying to make a point is best saved for arguments at seedy taverns. Casually dropping in a four-letter word during a conversation with a close friend is much different than using one to peddle an opinion to thousands of readers.

The Associated Press Stylebook rightly cautions against the use of vulgarities, stating, "Do not use them in stories unless they are part of direct quotations and there is a compelling reason for them." So the blight on Pipe Dream's editorial was against AP style, not to mention against better judgment.

I am not criticizing Pipe Dream as a whole; they are a deservedly award-winning college newspaper that The Lamron tries its best to compete with. In this instance, however, I think they royally [messed] up.