I subscribe to a newsmagazine called “The Nation” which, while having a decidedly progressive slant, does do its best to keep a somewhat objective tone. The essays and op-ed pieces are generally soberly written and well-considered, and frequently do the reader the courtesy of allowing that other differing viewpoints might very well have some merit. In the last couple of years, it’s been tough reading — largely because their contributors and columnists have a habit of ferreting out official misconduct, hypocrisy, etc., and it does make for depressing reading.
Once in a while, though, something appears that makes me laugh out loud. “Nation” has a very good columnist on media affairs named Eric Alterman. He’s titled his column “Liberal Media”, presumably because he (like many of us) is so tired of hearing this term used by the right wing as a pejorative. In a column that appeared in December (I no longer have the issue, and I can’t remember what the topic of discussion was), Alterman used the word “b******t”. In the first January issue’s letters to the editor, a reader took Alterman to task for it, closing his letter by saying that “the great journalist Izzy Stone declared during the turbulent 1960’s that shouting four-letter words is no argument, and calling cops ‘pigs’ is incivility.”
Alterman’s reply to this rather confused and confusing diatribe was beautiful, succinct and to the point: “B******t” has eight letters.” I laughed so hard I knocked over a glass of water. That was one neat takedown.