According to a recent e-mail sent to Hearst Connecticut Media Group site users, visitors can no longer say “fracking” when commenting on articles. Hearst’s reasoning for the ban is a frequent use of the term as a substitute for “fucking.”
Not at a Battlestar Galactica junkie? Apparently the “frakk” “fuck” switcharoo is a thing over there, but we’re not sure that’s part of its common rhetoric down here, in the real world.
Anywho, the e-mail from Hearst’s Stamford Advocate executive producer Brett Mickelson, released by user Kim Feil, reads:
“Sadly, many of our users attempt to exploit a perfectly legitimate word as a replacement for it’s more vulgar cousin. As a result we have been forced to block its usage.”
Hearst’s decision to censor comments caused outrage from anti-fracking activists for justifiable reasons. Fracking is a term generally used to describe the extremely controversial natural gas drilling process, which most recently resurfaced in the news thanks to Governor Cuomos administrative decision to revisit its regulatory proceedings.
In a statement to Jim Romenesko, prolific anti-fracking activist Sharon Wilson expressed her outrage regarding the issue:
“Fracking is a real word. It is used by real — often angry — people to describe impacts to their vital natural resources, health and long-term well-being. …Banning all comments using the word fracking effectively prevents a large segment of the populace from exercising their First Amendment right.”
While Wilson’s argument stands on strong moral grounds, as a private company Hearst has no legal obligation to their users, allowing them to do whatever the frack they want.
Wilson recently released a new e-mail she received at 11:27 am from Mickelson following her initial inquiry. It read:
“It was a technical issue tied to anti-profanity screening. It has been fixed to allow the word “fracking” to appear in our comments section. It was never a policy here or elsewhere at Hearst.”
This appears as a drastic deviation from a response he sent to Wilson earlier after her first inquiry which read:
“there is nothing unsettling about the word ‘fracking,’ and it is an important issue in current events [but] that doesn’t stop others from using the term inappropriately in an entirely different context.”
All we’ll say is that “We’re fracked!” sounds a hell of a lot like “We’re fucked!”