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L.A. Times Was Right To Use "Faggot" In Article About Kobe Bryant Incident

The LA Times bucked editorial convention, using the word Kobe Bryant used, “faggot,” within an article rather than a polite euphemism such as “anti-gay slur.” This was the correct decision, both journalistically and intellectually.

The Times explained the decision to Larry Brown Sports.

“Derogatory terms such as the one in the Kobe Bryant story are rarely printed in the paper, for obvious reasons. However, when the use of the word IS the story, as was the case with Bryant’s utterance, it is important to print it for clarity and accountability. This has happened with the other offensive terms in years past. But using such offensive words is never done lightly and, as was the case in this instance, is always cleared at the highest level of the editorial department. There needs to be a very good reason to use it, and in this case, because Bryant’s use of the term and the strong reaction to it from several different corners were the reason for the story, our judgment was to go with it.”

The goal of a newspaper, or any journalistic medium, is to inform the public concisely and accurately. Unwarranted crudeness has no place, but efforts to avoid it should not distort stories. The word Kobe Bryant used was the story. Using “a homophobic slur” makes the story vague and blunts the impact.

This was a similar issue in the Favre-Sterger story. Media outlets wouldn’t even use the term “penis.” They used bowdlerized euphemisms which deadened the story. Which explanation is clear and accurately captures the gravity of the situation,” Brett Favre sent Jenn Sterger “an inappropriate text message” or Brett Favre sent Jenn Sterger “a picture of his erect penis?” There’s nothing prurient about a precise anatomical term.
Journalism should encapsulate the world, not sterilize it.

[Photo via Getty]

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