Townhall's New Sensitivity

You may have heard that Bristol Palin got into a little barroom skirmish the other day, in which she lashed out (including a homophobic comment) at an obnoxious heckler. Different outlets handled the story differently, but I only noticed one -- conservative megasite -- that was too prudish to spell out the word "whore."

The top-of-front-page headline (now lower on page as I write this) read: Classy: Man Screams "Your Mother is a Who:e" at Bristol Palin. The brief story used 'who:e' in the headline and 'who*e' in the text.

I was initially struck by the innovative use of a colon in place of the 'r', but then I wondered: is this convention, or are they suddenly treating whore as specially offensive to help justify Bristol's aggressive reaction?

The site's search tool informed me that 'whore' is "deemed offensive and will not be searched for." Fortunately Google has no such qualms and I was able to determine that the Townhall site has occasionally used the full word in headlines, and several times in text of news items, including quite recently.

I was unable to find any instances of the site using the 'clean' versions of the word anywhere other than this Bristol Palin story.

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