City Desk

Post Obscenity Filter Catches Fowl Terminology

On Wednesday, Washington Post staff writer Rick Weiss wrote a front-page piece about the 2.5 million chickens that ate contaminated pet food. As the story notes, the "revelations are the latest in a rapidly widening scandal that started out with reports of a few deaths of pets" and highlight problems in U.S. food-safety protections.

And so plenty of readers on washingtonpost.com felt compelled to comment on the piece. One obstacle: They had a lot of trouble getting the word "chicken" onto the site. Here are some excerpts from the comment section:

The Miracle of Modern Agriculture! Feed plastic waste to the c*ic*ens. Make cattle carnivorous! Lots of new diseases to be explored! THANKS!
By thrh | May 2, 2007 12:40:48 AM

Donate the 100,000 Indiana chi c k ens to Africa. DHS protects your food supply about as well as they protect America from cybercrime and spam, which is almost not at all.
By open | May 2, 2007 12:31:37 AM

"Chicken" clearly packs none of the offense associated with such commonly asterisked words as f**k, s**t, a**hole, and so on. But it does share a certain consonant combo with the f-word, and that's "ck." A survey of article-comment sections of the Post site hint that those two letters trigger certain spasms in the paper's obscenity filter. For example, a comment responding to a May 3 story about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reads like this: "Shouldnt Condi be atta***ng Russia?"

The Post's obscenity filter is clearly working overtime. Get the whole story in next week's Dept. of Media.

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  • http://www.popcesspool.net JW

    Man, anybody who wants to post something about baseball's Robert Fick is probably fucked.

  • anon

    Maybe it's so people can't call the editorial board chickenshit?

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