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A FEATURE IN The Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2016, is titled “Vol. 29, No. 7: Vulgarities.” It updates this newspaper’s treatment of words and phrases that once weren’t uttered in polite society. Today, however, ….
Briefly, The Wall Street Journal is adopting a practice that evolved more than 30 years ago at R&T, back when Dick Bartkus was publisher, the late Tony Hogg was editor, Wife Dottie was managing editor and Innes Ireland handled part of the magazine’s Formula One reporting. For reasons to become clear anon, the new WSJ/old R&T practice was a simple one, known at R&T as “The Jackie Stewart Rule.”
It came about when Tony Hogg editorialized in the magazine about “rich Arabs pissing away their oil money in London casinos.”
Dick Barktus was livid. Not on ethnic, economic or anti-gambling grounds, but rather on the particular verb Tony had employed. “I never want to see things like this in R&T again!” Dick told Dottie.
Dottie complied. Whenever anyone submitted anything that offended her 4-H sensibilities, she’d stop Dick as he passed and asked for a ruling.
Dick quickly grew tired of this and said, “Look, Clendenin, it’s okay if Jackie Stewart says it, but we’re not going to use such language ourselves.” Thus, The Jackie Stewart Rule.
It worked admirably well, and school librarians rarely complained about R&T’s choice of words.
Innes Ireland knew of the rule and also knew Jackie. In one GP report, Innes wrote, “Walking down the pit lane, I encountered Jackie Stewart who said it had been pissing rain.”
R&T ran it verbatim; just as, today, three decades later, the WSJ plans to treat less than 4-H utterances. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016