taboo [OT--sort of]

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 21 11:52:05 UTC 2012

An article in NYDN was quoted by Eugene Volokh this morning:
> A bigot named their WiFi signal "F--- All Jews and N----" -- and now
> cops are investigating.

I'm not going to get into First Amendment implications of all
this--that's Volokh's job. But I find something very unsettling in this
particular example of taboo avoidance. "All" and "and" are incidental,
but why is "N---" blanked out and "Jews" is not? If this whole thing is
about discrimination, shouldn't both groups be treated equally?
Shouldn't the report have been "F--- All J--- and N----"? Or is the
aforementioned "bigot" softer on Jews and thus has chosen a less
insulting categorization? What if he said "Fuck all Hebrews and
Niggers"? Or even "Fuck all Kikes and Niggers? Would NYDN blank out
"kike"? Or would they try some weasel-word explanation such as
"offensively expressed sexually vulgar disposition toward Jews and
African-Americans, not in so many words"? An enquiring Jew wants to know...

OK </snark>

Never mind that it wasn't the "signal" that was thus named, but the
"hotspot" that sent and received signals. Speaking of which--is this
meaning of "signal" in the OED? Should it be?


PS: Rhetorical questions, of course--No; Yes. In fact, I believe, this
meaning of "signal" is quite old--the radio-related question, "Can you
locate the signal?" has always meant, "Can you find out where it's
coming from?" or "Can you find the source?" It's contextual, but the
meaning is similar (unless we parse "locate" differently from locate
7.--say, as "trace back to its origin"--I don't think that's in the OED

locate, v.
> 7. To discover the exact place or locality of (a person or thing).

Maybe "locate the signal" should be a listed phrase. (126K raw ghits,
although many are spurious)

The American Dialect Society -

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