Carol Platt Liebau

Friday, April 08, 2005

According to this piece in The Wall Street Journal, Princeton University Press is publishing a serious book. But the title isn't serious . . . it's vulgar. It's "Bull----" (without the hyphens).

What is the point, exactly? It's apparently a serious, quasi-scholarly work. So if the author is intelligent enough to pen the book, one would think he's likewise capable of the intellectual exercise necessary to find a more dignified title for it. Any low grade idiot can use the word "bull----" -- shouldn't we expect a bit more from a scholar?

The Journal piece refers to the "coarsening" of standards. It's a real phenomenon in America today, and a distressing one. And don't imagine that a "little thing" like this doesn't matter; it does. In the memorable movie version of the musical "Gigi," one of the characters (a famous courtesan) observes, "Bad table manners have broken up more households than infidelity."

The point isn't literally true, probably, but the point is apt. Coarsening in small things leads to coarsening in large, creating mutual disgust, and, in the end, a decline of the civilization that is supposed to distinguish men, made in God's image, from mere animals (and I'll note that my dog, Winston, would surely have the taste not to title any book with a scatological vulgarity).


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