Snow: Let's not freak out over use of 'freakin' '

asnow@newsobserver.comDecember 8, 2012 

As if UNC-CH didn’t have enough athletic and academic headaches, critics are taking basketball coach Roy Williams to task for his habitual use of the word “freakin’ .”

All coach is guilty of is resorting to euphemism, the art of substituting a word for a similar-sounding word sometimes socially unacceptable.

But when I tried to defend the coach, I ran into a buzz saw of opposition from several friends as well as from my wife.

The tempest in a teapot takes me back to my childhood when my brothers and I would feel the sting of a switch on our backs and legs if we used such words as “Dern” or “Holy mackerel!” or “Daggonit!” when what we really wanted to say and meant was “damn!”

Meanwhile, my father would fling his “Plagonits!” right and left. (“Plagonit!” is a condensation of “A plague on it!”)

When I once dared point out that he was just substituting “Plagonit” for “Dern!” or, heaven forbid, “Damn!”, I was sent to fetch another switch from the suffering sapling in the backyard.

Sure, we know Coach Williams’ “freakin’ ” is a euphemism for the f-word. But even a novice lawyer could make a good case in court that he’s not guilty of using profanity.

Now if you want to hear some really first class cussing by a coach, drive over to… No, never mind.

Tit for tat

In a recent column item regarding Administrative Judge Fred Morrison’s ruling that the town of Brasstown can’t hold its traditional New Year’s Eve possum drop, I quoted Charles Dickens’ comment in “Oliver Twist: “The law is a ass, a idiot.”

Judge Morrison responded with a quote from Chief Justice Joseph Story, (1779-1845): “The law is a jealous mistress, and requires a long and constant courtship. It is not to be worn by trifling favors, but by lavish homage.”

Time was

Many of you had definite opinions on how the toilet paper roll should be installed.

This from Don Shaw, former longtime WTVD sports director: “The late Ann Landers kept a running dialogue regarding same debate for several years. It’s interesting how times change. I remember when our big concern was if the Sears-Roebuck gift catalogue in the out house would last until the next one arrived.”

For the record

David Katz, research assistant for veteran news commentator David Gergen, writes to correct my misquote of CBS’ Nov. 11 “Face the Nation” broadcast:

“David did not say the country was devastated. He instead said: ‘Bob, I can’t tell you in the last few days I have talked to people who served under him and they are devastated by this because they look up to him so much.’

“David was quite clearly referring to the people who served under Petraeus, not the country as a whole,” Katz noted. “In speaking about the country as a whole, David said, ‘It’s a tragedy not only for the families, for the individuals involved. I think it’s a tragedy for the country.”

My apologies to Mr. Gergen,whom I have long considered one of the most reliable and astute political analysts on the network news.

No cellphones allowed

Not long ago, I read that ringing cellphones during Sunday worship have become so disruptive that some churches fine the absent-minded culprits who forget to turn them off $25 or more per ring.

You might think the embarrassment itself would be sufficient penalty but apparently some pastors think not.

Only once has my phone violated the solemnity of the Sabbath and that was during Sunday School rather than in the sanctuary.

My embarrassment was eased only a wee bit by the fact that my ringtone was the familiar hymn “Ode to Joy.”

When I mentioned fines for sanctuary cell phone violations, a friend said, “Now, when are churches going to fine moms who don’t take their crying babies out after five minutes of wailing?”

Oh, my! Let’s not go there.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or

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