TMS Ombudsman

October 06, 2009 | Comments (0) | by T.R.

"The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves." -- Oscar Wilde

Any reader of Thunder Matt's Saloon, if they so choose, can find an article or joke that offends their better sensibilities. The blogosphere is, after all, a mish-mash of controversial and unresearched opinion and poor attempts at humor. TMS is no exception. That being said, the TMS staff (and this Ombudsman) believes that it's readership is of a mature enough stature that they will turn a blind eye to the worst of these transgressions. Even so, there is little room at TMS for blatant obscenity, be it graphic or written in nature. Offending authors could be pointed out, shunned in the comments, and otherwise mocked and ridiculed by readers. But what if there is a contradiction within the realm of vulgarity? Specifically, what does it say when a writer contradicts his own moral high ground? Does self-contradiction imply heightened intelligence, as Oscar Wilde might have us believe? Or is one who contradicts himself simply lazy and foolish, inattentive to his own detail and message?

These questions were recently brought to light concerning contradictory means of censorship by different staffers. The first concerns a piece titled "On the Bright Side of Things", penned by Surrounded By Communists. SBC, as we will call him, chose to alter the term "fuck-up" in his opening sentence, replacing it with the awkward "f&ck up". Listen, we're all adults here. When used properly, the word "fuck" can effectively shoulders a great burden, conveying emotions that cleaner synonyms cannot. Despite this attention to self-censorship, SBC proceeds to caption his first photo in the article by employing the word "asshole". So one is fine, but not the other?

TMS is not being hounded by the FCC. There is no magical hour of the night that demarcates a line between the use of clean and foul language. TMS is written for a mature audience. The prevalence of "fuck" and "asshole" throughout the Internet and other forms of mass media has truly desensitized their impact for the majority of Western society. There should be little reason to hesitate in using them, as long as they help in maximizing effect and are not directed toward individuals in a hateful, irresponsible manner. Consistency in this respect should be maintained amongst TMS staff. Contradiction of this rule, particularly by one author in the same post, should be avoided. If nothing else, such resolve by the author precipitates a level of trust and understanding between writer and reader; a bind that is essential for continued growth in an often-overwhelming sea of sports and entertainment blogs.

While conviction in prose is most admirable, vigilance should be maintained at all times when it comes to visual content. On Monday, staff writer Arcturus posted a photo which most would consider questionable in taste, and certainly unsafe for the work environment (and let's be honest, most TMS readers peruse the site while at work). Though Arcturus seemingly made an attempt at obscuring the most private parts of "Ms. Phoenix Ray", there is clearly a nipple slipping through on the left breast. Discretion being the better part of valor, this picture and post should have come with a clear warning, possibly with a link to the photo instead of having it embedded in the article. Pictures do, after all, say a thousand words (and scar a thousand minds).

Make no mistake: words and pictures are held to different standards. Expletives are palatable when given context, whereas pictures draw the eyes and can bypass context entirely. There is no contradiction in saying that one is favorable over the other.

Or is there?

Editor's Note: Surrounded By Communists was recently dismissed for this and other infractions deemed detrimental to the integrity of TMS. The other infractions involved a fraternity house and a broomstick.