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Blue Streak:: Swearing, Free Speech, and Sexual Harrassment Hardcover – July 30, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (July 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679444718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679444718
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,120,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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 variety?that enrage Dooling, and he catalogues some rather silly court cases. But his general argument?that the "language police" support the Orwellian idea that law can help end hatred?is somewhat caricatured, unleavened by either reportage or (hint) a fictional approach. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From 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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on April 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Dooling asks why we, particularly men, swear. He searches through history and psychology, sometimes successfully, for the roots of expletives and why we use them. He also considers the reactions to such outbursts and their justification. We are trained as children to eschew "bad" words, but males tend to overcome that brainwashing and use profanity under a wide range of circumstances. Swearing is a near universal and must be contemplated in that setting. Recognizing that fact, he argues, could provide a seawall against the tsunami of "harassment" litigation pending in the courts.
If profanity, which Dooling provides almost to saturation, has a natural basis, then the laws covering workplace expression are irrational and doomed to failure. Worse, they seem to be having more negative impact on lives than on improving workplace conditions. Worse still, is the potential for all this legal [and social] activity leading to thought control? That ultimate question is Dooling's purpose in this rather impudent illustration. He sees the application of civil rights legislation of the 1960s has led along unanticipated paths. Civil rights, originally intended to protect voting and job rights, now extends into the realm of "feelings." Overt discrimination has been replaced by legislated politeness. Dooling wants to curtail the highly questionable practices resulting from vague definitions and decisions. This collection of essays boldly confronts us with past practices. We need to recognize what has occurred and reverse the process. It's not a question of manners, but of reality.
The illogical roots of "political correctness" are now being exposed by many good studies. This one happens to be one of the more senses-assaulting ones, but is no less valuable for that.
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