And Speaking of Tim…

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I have to say that I too was quite surprised at the reaction to his casual but decidedly non-gratuitous dropping of th F-Bomb. Actually, I can’t say that I even noticed it when I read the original entry.

The positions on this one are what you might expect: free speech folks who object to the notion of self-censorship squaring off against those who object to the usage of vulgarity on either moral grounds, out of concern for the employer’s corporate image, or both.

From where I sit, this is pretty simple: it’s a question of choice. Tim’s choice, and his employer’s choice. The usage of such language carries with it consequences, for both him and for his employer. If he – and they – are willing to bear that cost, more power to the both of them. If readers choose to be offended, they can of course decline to read him in future. For me personally, I couldn’t care less. But of course I’ve always subscribed to the notion put forward by some comedian in the past that says that the word he used is the most versatile in the English language.

All of this, of course, is a blogging tempest in a teapot. I seriously doubt anyone will care about – let alone remember – this incident in a month, if not next week. But the one thing I did want to tease out before it blows over was Tim’s idea that a blog should be a near perfect representation of precisely who we are. About halfway down, he says, “So I’m reluctant to do anything that makes ongoing read less like the way I really sound.”

For the record, I’m a believer that blogs can and should be a manifestation of who the author is. As I’ve written before, one of the truly transformative aspects to blogging is that it allows you to scale your personality (good and bad) to the internet. Writing about how I got ticketed, towed and impounded in West Springfield as an example, gives you not only the opportunity to have a chuckle at my expense, but also for you to get a feel for how I handle things (and, it must be said, how dumb I can be at times). It allows you to know a bit more about me, and where I’m coming from. Jonathan describes a phenomenon I experience regularly a bit more here here; meeting complete strangers that are already up to speed on what you’ve been up lately.

All that said, however, I would never contend that my blog is precisely who I am, nor how I sound. It’s a fair representation, and certainly is true to what I believe, but it’s not a mirror image. Despite her best efforts, my mother would be the first to tell you that I swear quite a bit in person. Even more while I’m fishing. So far as I know, however, I haven’t yet sworn in this space. It’s not to say that it won’t happen, but just to say that I wouldn’t do it without serious justification.

While swearing might be an aspect of who I am, I don’t feel any obligation to share that portion of my personality here, nor do I feel that I’m misrepresenting myself by taking a different tone here than I might in person. Just as you might use different language when you’re visiting your significant other’s family for the first time than while out at a bar with friends, so too do I personally believe that a blog can (at times) benefit from a more moderate tone.

But that’s my choice, just as Tim’s is his. As the saying goes, while I might not agree with his choice, I certainly respect his right to make it. And while my choice might be to keep my blog family friendly (presuming your family’s really into nerdy things like Asterisk), Tim’s certainly not risking my subscription if chooses to use some salty language.


  1. I can understand the “Corporate Viewpoint” thing, but… DAMN that’s fucking cool!

  2. Tim Bray is a fucking smart guy, and can use whatever language he wants to on his own blog. If people don’t like it they can unsubscribe.

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