7 Dirty Words You Can Sometimes Read on Blogs

In response to an ongoing controversy about the use of vulgar language on blogs, InstaPunk issued a challenge which NewsBuckit‘s Patrick Ishmael took up: search the top blogs on each side of the aisle for instances of George Carlin’s infamous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” The results:

Blog Dirty Words Table - Left

Blog Dirty Words Table - Right

Steven Taylor notes some methodological concerns about the process which are well taken. Nonetheless, in the spirit of the day, he applies the test to his own site, PoliBlog, and finds 45 instances. In his defense, he notes that “all 45 are from comments left by readers (and a couple look like they are trackback spam that slipped through the cracks).”

Mine are almost all trackbacks or comments as well. The rest are either references to the government funding of “Piss Christ,” a quote of former Sen. Conrad Burns (which helped him become a former Senator, so that’ll teach him) and a couple of “Pulp Fiction” quotes used to illustrate a point.

I have been known to use the occasional profanity in my offline life, which is probably the reverse of most people, who seem to feel unburdened by the freedom of the Internet. I made a decision, though, in the early days of the blog to refrain from stronger-than-PG language unless there was a compelling reason. Partly, that was out of respect for the fact that a right-leaning blog will draw a fair number of religiously devout readers who find such words offensive.

Mostly, though, it was a recognition that the site host sets the tone of his comments section. OTB’s comments section is generally much more civil than those of most blogs with similar traffic levels. I like to think the content of the posts themselves are part of the reason.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Rodney Dill says:

    I would expect most of the profainity on all sites come from comments, but then there probably is the occaisional vitrolic blogger. I see a lot of sh*t and F@ck type comments, which are somewhat self censored but are clear on the intent. I suppose most of these were not counted.

  2. I try and avoid writing profanity above pg-13 on my little site, too. Most of any bad language comes from excerpting liberal sites, such as the DU and Hufftard Post.

    Liberals love using vulgarity on their sites, because most of what they write is based on feelings, not facts. Vulgarity emphasises their seething cauldron of hatred.

  3. Steve M. says:

    Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler? What Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler?

  4. Scott Ott says:

    ScrappleFace, as most know, is a family-friendly daily conservative satire site, but thanks to your post, I was able to find five references that would have made Carlin’s list. I can’t locate the other six. All five were either trackbacks from other blogs, or comments from readers that somehow slipped through. I’m grateful for this service, James.


  5. Mark says:

    Liberals love using vulgarity on their sites, because most of what they write is based on feelings, not facts. Vulgarity emphasises their seething cauldron of hatred.
    Posted by: William Teach

    I enjoy OTB because the postings and most of the comments seem to be written in good faith without hyperbole and over-generalization. The OTB crowd appears to enjoy a reasoned debate which is missing from the more extreme sites on both sides.

    If you’ve read this far, you probably can guess what I’m going to say next: William’s comment does not fall into this category.

  6. Mark says:

    As a lefty, I would prefer that the major left-leaning blogs would clean up their language for two reasons:

    1. It doesn’t really add anything to their arguments.

    2. It gives the Right ammunition to discredit them in the eyes of the general public without ever addressing their arguments. The Right can just complain that the Left uses bad words and Howie Kurtz et. al. will jump in to help discredit the lefty bloggers.

  7. carpeicthus says:

    Yeah, William’s myopia is more offensive than any stupid word.

  8. just me says:

    Even on the left leaning blogs that I visit, in generalthe majority of profanity is in the comments.

    I do not read daily Kos or some of the others that would top the profanity useage list unless I am following a link from another blog.

    I also admit I don’t care much for profanity laced arguments, I think people can make most points without their use, although there are times when a profanity is the best word to use.

  9. spencer says:

    Why do you have to be “religiously devoted” to find
    profanity offensive? Can’t someone else find it

  10. Bandit says:

    Mark – I agree with your sentiment on #2 – but I kind of disagree with your exact characterization – but generally if someone can’t express themselves without cursing or spewing hate they really don’t have an argument

  11. Steven Plunk says:

    I happen to agree with William Teach. I would also hypothesize that liberal posters are generally younger and therefore more likely to use bad language. I base that on day to day experience from high school into adult life.

    I find it hard to believe that people would find such observations offensive. It may be uncomfortable to have such shortcomings pointed out but a good portion of America sees it as fact.

  12. Meanwhile, notice that Mark faild to actually rebut what I wrote, just threw an attack out there.

    Visiting most of the major left leaning sites, they are seething cauldron’s of hate.

  13. John Burgess says:

    My blog is not the most political (in terms of US politics), but I do believe it is conservative in its general outlook.

    Of some 2,800 posts, I have found one ‘Carlin word’: ‘pissed off’. That particular word seems to have reached some level of even broadcast acceptability, so I’m not sweating it.

    I can certainly swear adequately to turn the room blue in a half-dozen languages. Sometimes I do. But usually I don’t as I reserve that slice of vocabulary for the times when it’s really needed. Conversing on a blog (particularly my blog) does not require foul language.

  14. Mark says:

    Meanwhile, notice that Mark faild to actually rebut what I wrote, just threw an attack out there.

    How does one rebut comments like “Seething cauldron of hatred”?

    If you offer some support for your assertion that liberals base their writing on feelings, then maybe we would have something to discuss.

  15. Mark, spend some time at sites like the DU, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, etc. Heck, visit the official democratic parties blog at Democrats.org. While there are certainly those on the right who act in a poor manner, the major leading left wing sites are ripe with disgusting rhetoric, horrible language, death threats, hope of death for Republicans, and so on.

    There is very little fact interspersed, it is mostly based on feelings, and you can feel the anger.

    I don’t know about you, but, I generally avoid engaging in discussions with people like that, even if on the right. It is a waste of time, and leads only to slur-fests. I’d much rather sit down and converse with people who want to discuss and debate, which would include you. Rather then come out and launch a vicious attack, you kept it in the realm of debate. I appreciate.