Letter from the editor: Bad Behaviour

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The Independent Online

I have had a number of complaints about yesterday’s letter. Some people have said that, in relating - with a degree of tacit approval - tales of drunkenness from this week’s i party, plus parties past, I am endorsing irresponsible drinking.

Heaven forfend! The idea that I would approve of any form of dissolute behaviour is something I find unconscionable. I have always urged my colleagues to drink in a mature and responsible way. Or at least to do what I do and carry a little note with your home address in your pocket!

Those readers who were quick enough on the draw to get tickets for our reader party at the Serpentine Gallery on April 13 will be able to see at first hand just what models of sobriety and discipline we are at i. Just make sure you don’t get caught in a Guinness-drinking competition with our comment editor!

On the subject of bad behaviour, there was a lot of swearing in morning conference yesterday. Or, to be more precise, there was a lot of discussion about swearing. This was prompted by the widespread employment of asterisks in swear words in yesterday’s issue, which included the use of the word “a**hole”. (I thought this was one of our more bizarre misprints before I realised it was the American application of the word.)

There are two schools of thought on this: that all swear words should be asterisked, or that our readers are grown-up enough to be able to withstand the printing of a word that can be heard well before the watershed. My view is that any word likely to offend even a small minority of readers should be avoided if at all possible. If, however, for context or as part of a direct quotation, the word should be used in full, without asterisks. However, there are some words (and we probably all know what they are without my spelling them out, even with asterisks) which are likely to offend most of our readers, and these we will continue to present in an expletive-deleted kind of way. I hope you’re happy to leave it to our judgement. But do let us know what you think.

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