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To asterisk or not to asterisk, that is the question



The hyper-sensitive linguistic logic of The Times (or, arguably, the intractable problems faced daily by its unsung sub-editors) was on show again yesterday, in its reporting of the travails and temperament of Chelsea’s deeply unloveable captain. If The Times can repeat itself, then so can I (April 10th: “I hate all sports ..”). For international readers, and for those who are not familiar with the inherently ridiculous world of professional football, John Terry is facing trial this summer for ‘racially abusing’ an opposing player.

Yes [1]. To protect the delicate sensibilities of its supposedly adult and worldly readership, the paper’s subbies had to asterisk out the two words that – at least on a football pitch, if not elsewhere – are inoffensive. Conversely, they left en clair the one word which is perfectly innocuous in the nation’s drawing-rooms, but whose use has landed Terry with a July 9th date with destiny at Southwark Crown Court.

Yes [2]. I have cut the extract unnecessarily large, to give you a fuller picture of Terry’s loveable character.

John Terry insists that he didn’t say ‘black c***’, but ‘blind c***’.
Anton Ferdinand says that he heard different.
Deaf c***.


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