Public Editor

"Raspberries" for not printing Russian punk group's name

"Raspberries to the Kansas City Star for a lack of courage!" said email I just received.

"I'm talking about the short item 'Putin vs Punk Rock' carried on July 31, p A3, in which only an anonymous reference is made to 'three Russian musicians,'" he continued.

"The name of the group was apparently too vulgar for the Star to print. Yet other news outlets including NPR, The Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor were all willing to say the word."

He's right -- the brief in the print edition didn't use the group's name, "Pussy Riot." Several stories on the website have used it.

The Star has printed every vulgar or obscene word I can think of except for one (the dreaded "c-word," which I know many people find the most distasteful term in the English language, at least to Americans -- though it's oddly comparatively benign in the UK). Listings and even stories have mentioned band names such as the Butthole Surfers (who were once on the fringes of mainstream success) and Nashville Pussy.

Too genteel in this case? I think this one's the essence of subjectivity, and either position can be defended reasonably.

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