Whiteout in the Hands of a Fool

I think I mentioned attending the Festival of Faith & Writing, yes? Yes. And I mentioned these workshops I attended. On poetry and on playwriting.

Well, just this minute I decided to rest my brain from a taxing revision, to read something that was handed out during workshop. A ten-minute play about a guy and a girl talking about their failed relationship. We weren't given time to read it during the workshop, even though the focus of the workshop was on structure as seen in a short play. It would have been wonderful to read it then and there, to dissect it and unpack it and learn from it. But whatever. We didn't.

So I pulled it out and read it. And I wondered what was up with the margins. There were these big gaps in the middle of paragraphs or at the start of lines. Then I noticed the gaps were not gaps, rather words. Words that had been mostly successfully whited out by ... someone. The workshop facilitator? I'm assuming.

See, the topic of profanity came up briefly during our workshop. One participant mentioned that his scene had a naughty word in it, and asked if we minded. I was more than a little surprised when the man beside me said he did indeed mind, and if he read the part, he would not say the word. Really? Well, ok, I thought, the man is a pastor. Not a pastor of any church I've attended (or would attend even if it meant salvation from the fires of hell), but a pastor. So his reluctance to drop the D-bomb aloud is allowable.

But what about profanity in a written work, a script? I can understand censoring a word mid-read-aloud to avoid violating one's own moral code, but is it acceptable to censor a published work (pre-photocopying) - thus inflicting your moral code on everyone who happens to read the document? Hmmmm.

Yes, yes, I understand that she may not have been inflicting anything on us. Rather, she likely did it to avoid offending anyone. Is it really possible to avoid offending anyone? Some may be offended by a well-placed damn, others by the presumptuousness of someone else deciding what words are appropriate for us to read, still others by the (marginally) salacious content of the scene itself. Personally, I'd rather be treated like a grownup. Pick a different scene, or put the white-out away.

Plus, maybe it's the jr. higher in me, but it's really distracting to read something when I'm tilting the page sideways trying to see what that word might have been.

Note to the facilitator: you missed one. An F-bomb!