Reader Rep: Ted Diadiun weighs in on Queen of Steam

Dear friends, it is I, Ted Diadiun, your new reader representative. After being held in rapture by my thought-provoking insights on all matters journalism for The Plain Dealer, Scene management has asked me to do the same for its quaint little periodical. Normally, a major literary figure such as I, Ted Diadiun, would only deign to allow my formidable shadow to color the pages of the country’s most prestigious papers, like the Lake County News-Herald. But considering that Scene so badly needs my assistance – and they’re paying in cash – I have agreed to lend my untold talents to this desperate proposition. As those many who follow Ted Diadiun know, I have recently returned from a conference of the Organization of Newspaper Ombudsman at Harvard University (what better place for my esteemed colleagues and I to gather), where we discussed scintillating topics close to Ted Diadiun, including blogging, fairness, beard-trimming and, of course, Ted Diadiun. Yet now I am back, and it appears your e-mails have been piling up. One story in particular this week, “Queen of Steam," raised quite a stir. It appears the profile of local romance novelist Tina Engler contained some language that many readers found offensive. The offending words included “cocks and pussies,” “tweaked plump nipples,” “inviting cunts,” and “spurting their life force.” Prior to writing this column, Ted Diadiun had minimal experience with such complaints. At The Plain Dealer, the closest we ever came to being sexually offensive was an incident involving Dick Feagler and some egg-nog at the office Christmas party in ’87. Or at least I think that was egg-nog . . . In any event, Ted Diadiun thoroughly researched the etymology behind the above references. “Pussy,” as it turns out, is said to have evolved from the Old Norse word “puss,” meaning “pocket” or “pouch,” whereas “cunt” comes from the Germanic “kunton,” meaning “female genitalia.” Though Ted Diadiun understands that our readers hold many different values close to hearth and home, in this case you are wrong. As a master wordsmith myself, Ted Diadiun believes it’s a writer’s prerogative – if not an imperative – to engage in witty wordplay. Writer Denise Grollmus creatively mined foreign cultures to deliver a certain giguere to her story. I say hurrah! Though Ted Diadiun would have undoubtedly done it better, I can’t agree that the invocation of Viking or Germanic language is somehow offensive, unless you’re racist. So quit emailing me. Unfortunately, Ted Diadiun was unable to locate a meaning for “spurting their life force.” My best guess is that it involves a water fountain, possibly at a monastery, yet I am regrettably unsure of the proper usage. In the interest of fairness, however, I must now use the restroom.
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