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Blue Streak: Swearing, Free Speech, and Sexual Harassment
     

Blue Streak: Swearing, Free Speech, and Sexual Harassment

by Richard Dooling
 
A funny, provocative, and knowledgeable book about cursing and swearing, Blue Streak includes chapters on political correctness and on foul-ups in the workplace and in the courts caused by language regulations. It explores the tendency of men to swear more than women, the history and implications of some of the more common swear words, and obscenity in social,

Overview

A funny, provocative, and knowledgeable book about cursing and swearing, Blue Streak includes chapters on political correctness and on foul-ups in the workplace and in the courts caused by language regulations. It explores the tendency of men to swear more than women, the history and implications of some of the more common swear words, and obscenity in social, personal, and even theological conversation and literature.

In this volume you will find a fascinating and hilarious explanation of what "f—- you" actually means. (It turns out to be a strange little piece of syntax.) You will tour Hell as a piece of real estate. And you will learn why God would probably rather have us swear than not. The writing is playful and sophisticated, and it takes Blue Streak far beyond mere naughtiness and into the realm of literature.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his novel White Man's Grave, Dooling showed he could write hilariously about the absurdities of law. Here, unfortunately, his armchair musings on law and folkways meander between entertaining and dyspeptic. "[I]n response to gender politics, the government now intrudes into almost every important aspect of our occupational lives," exaggerates the author, an attorney specializing in employment discrimination law, obviously on the defense side. His excursions celebrating "the restorative powers of blue-streak cussing" are enjoyable enough, especially as he assays dictionaries to show how long-standing neglect of dirty words is being supplanted by the new slang dictionaries. Similarly amusing are his investigations into the literary pedigree of our leading four-letter words. In between, he slaloms through prominent Supreme Court cases concerning offensive speech, teasing out inconsistencies and idiocies, and slams campus speech codes. It is the claims of verbal sexual harassment"hostile environment," as opposed to the easily evaluated quid pro quo varietythat enrage Dooling, and he catalogues some rather silly court cases. But his general argumentthat the "language police" support the Orwellian idea that law can help end hatredis somewhat caricatured, unleavened by either reportage or (hint) a fictional approach. Author tour. (Aug.)
Library Journal
In this romp through the netherworld of blue language, entire chapters are devoted to our favorite barnyard epithet, Satan's domain, and the multipurpose four-letter word generally considered the king of obscenities. But Blue Streak is not just a linguistic treatise. Dooling, an attorney and novelist (White Man's Grave, LJ 4/15/94), focuses on politically correct language police who try to banish negative attitudes by abolishing the words used to express them. Admittedly "self-consciously confrontational," taking delight in tweaking government dictates against verbal sexual harassment, Blue Streak, though cleverly written, is guaranteed to offend many readers, even those who do not shrink from its language. Book selectors should travel at their own risk.Jim G. Burns, Ottumwa P. L., Ia.
Donna Seaman
Dooling's flair for satire and disdain for hypocrisy were evident in his novel "White Man's Grave" (1994), and here, in this analysis of the status of free speech in our "politically correct" era, his scorn runs rampant. As a lawyer specializing in employment-discrimination cases, Dooling has witnessed the downside of sexual harassment law: tens of thousands of hopeless cases. So his ire over the meddling of "word police" in what are, frankly, ordinary fractious verbal exchanges between coworkers makes sense, especially since he seems to recognize the seriousness of genuine complaints. But Dooling is so abrasively dismissive of women and so quick to oversimplify gender differences, that readers may find themselves bristling at his bluster even as they recognize the validity of his main point: language can be offensive, but the right to speak freely must be protected. As part of his maddening but ultimately entertaining argument, Dooling offers lively histories of "dirty" words and provocative theories about why they're so compelling.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679444718
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/30/1996
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.81(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.86(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Dooling was recently nominated for the National Book Award for his second novel, White Man's Grave. A lawyer specializing in employment-discrimination cases, he lives in Omaha with his wife and three children.

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