I firmly sit in the camp that holds that the baggy-pants-mean-the-end-of-civilization meme ranks up there with the Ozzy-bites-off-bat’s-heads meme: It’s prima facie ridiculous. While Ozzy may have bitten the head off a bat, I’ve read it was a misunderstanding, or somesuch. While really baggy pants may lower the wearer’s IQ in my mind, I count it as free expression. After all, no laws bar people from dressing like clowns.
Given those views, a chuckle rumbled through my belly to see the issue (baggy pants, not Ozzy) on the front page of today’s Detroit Free Press, let alone as the centerpiece.
Then I read the lede:
Flint residents now have to watch their butts because Police Chief David Dicks is on the lookout.
Um, watch your butts ’cause Dicks is coming? Cute. Maybe a copy editor should have told them. Maybe it was intentional. If it’s the former, they’re fools for not realizing how awful and suggestive the lede is. If it’s the latter, I’d call it a lame attempt at trying to be hip with the lingo, as the kids might say. Either way, on reading that, I would have groaned and had the reporter change it.
And to think that yesterday I spurred a minor controversy in our Features department by flagging a variation of the phrase “get it up” in a story. The head of our department nixed it, replacing it with a parenthetical euphemism. Here’s the original, with apologies to Sue (I really liked the original quote).
(Author Jim) Harrison is predictably blunt. “I had a professor from U-M ask me why (Thomas) McGuane and Richard Ford and I all went to Michigan State,” he says. “I said it was easier, you had more time to read literature and write. And also, I told him, ‘You guys haven’t gotten it up since Arthur Miller in the ’40s, so just ease up, you know?’ ” He laughs.