Jul 11, 2008

Cut his nuts 'out' or 'off'?

Jesse Jackson's recent offer to cut off Barack Obama's nuts places an unusually prickly matter of journalistic etiquette before the American media. The Los Angeles Times went with: “crude language.” The AP mentioned “regretfully crude" language and "a slang reference to his wanting to cut off Obama's testicles." The New York Times, the guardians of 'all the news that's fit to print' put it with even more masterful aplomb: “Mr. Jackson made disparaging remarks, apparently including a crude reference to male genitalia.” Only The New York Post printed it in full, slapping it in a bold 50-point headline: JESSE JACKSON SAYS HE WANTS TO CUT OBAMA'S 'NUTS OUT'

Hang on — "out" or "off"? Reuters went with "out". Other went with "off." Tradition would suggest the latter. As George Stephanopolous said of Al Gore "He was good to me, but the threat was implicit: 'Don't even think about trying to shut me out; if it comes down to you or me, I'll cut your nuts off.'" Or as Al Haig, speaking to Richard Nixon, said of Mark Felt aka Deep Throat: "We've got to be careful as to when to cut his nuts off."

Cutting someone's nuts "out" on the other hand, is favored only by thugs and gangsters, according to the Post. The actual clip — finally aired on Fox news — revealed the good Reverend to be a traditionalist.

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