SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
A word now about profanity. I'm in favor - not on this show or around children and grandparents. But I think an occasional profanity can remind us of the power of words to convey intense emotion. This week, Bryan Price, the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, who just lost four straight games, answered a reporter's question with a five and a half minute reply - a lot of people called it a rant - that featured what the Associated Press called a common vulgarity that begins with F. He repeated this profanity 77 times. He put an I-N-G trail to the word and uttered the expletive as an adjective [expletive], a gerund [expletive] and an interjection [expletive]. He set off the profanity over and over like firecrackers on the 4 of July, though, not once in 77 times did he use it to describe the act of intimacy for which that [expletive]-ing word was coined.
The manager has apologized for his language, but not the gist of his argument. Mr. Price was upset over media reports about which players were injured, who might be sent to the minors and who would replace them on the team. Such information could be valuable to the club's opponents, and he said the Reds hadn't been able to reach some of the players themselves. I think we owe that F-bomb kid the right to be called and told that he's going to be sent down as opposed to reading it in a tweet, he said, followed by more F-bombs. But the manager's good point got lost amid the expletives.
An occasional profanity should be added to your language like a habanero pepper, not poured over your words like ketchup. A speech that Bryan Price probably intended to defend the right of the manager to inform his players of personnel changes before they hear about it on Twitter or the radio wound up being reported just as a profane rant. I do not know Bryan Price. Reporters who cover the Cincinnati Reds say they were surprised by his tirade. The Bryan Price they deal with every day is gracious and forthcoming. I see by his bio that Bryan Price went to the University of California, Berkeley. The school's still better known for producing more sandal-clad protesters, long-haired academics, noted economists and Nobel laureates than pro athletes. You'd think a Berkley man would've learned how to use more than one profanity.
(SOUNDBITE OF POEM, "HOWL")
ALLEN GINSBERG: Angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz, who bared their brains to heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated, who passed through universities with radiant, cool eyes, hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war, who are expelled from the academies for crazy...
SIMON: Allen Ginsberg, "Howl."
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