A public pain in the rear, and how to talk about it

Trying to keep the blog high school internet filter-friendly: Bob Sutton has a book about a rule of business he proposes: The No [pains in the rear] Rule. “No jerks allowed,” as the Nepali Times euphemistically put it.

How do you market a book with a mildly profane title? And how do you do it when the title is so apt, so perfect, that nothing else would work? Even the New York Times is struggling with this problem, since the book made the best-seller lists. And how do you do it when the normally-soporific FCC has started to complain about on-air profanity?

Will I get into trouble if I tell you the book is titled, The No Asshole Rule? Sutton wonders:

I appreciate the credit they are giving the book for raising awareness. But I am highly amused and slightly annoyed by The Times‘ persistent refusal to write the name of the book. When the book appeared on the best-seller list, they called it The No A******* Rule. My publisher had good fun goading them with the advertisement below The Times motto is “All the news Fit to Print,” but I guess that they still find the title offensive. I am accustomed to such silliness, as my essay over at Huffington reports — see part 1 and part 2. But I do wonder why, of all the major newspapers and magazines in the world, The Times continues to be most resistant to printing the title, or even a hint of it. This is the same publication that published many unsavory details from the Elliot Spitzer, Larry Craig, and especially, Bill Clinton sex scandals. I also think it is pretty difficult for them to argue that they are violating generally accepted standards in the print media. Many newspapers do continue to call it something like The No Ahole Rule, but the name has been spelled out in respectable publications including the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times, Fortune (including in a recent article giving kudos to Baird for having a no asshole rule), to BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, McKinsey Quarterly, and even Stanford Reports — the rather staid in-house publication at my own university. And major European newspapers like The Observer in England, La Monde in France, and Corriere Dela Sera in Rome printed the title (or related translations) with no fuss at all.

He’s right, of course. Students won’t blanche at hearing the word — they use worse, and would improve their language to come back to such a gentle profanity.

Guess who made the “No A—— Rule mention” rule.

The book’s subtitle is “Building a civilized workplace, and surviving one that isn’t.”

Sutton has a great idea. The book deserves to be read, and followed.

Teachers, have you ever worked in a school where this rule would not have improved the climate?


3 Responses to A public pain in the rear, and how to talk about it

  1. Crudely Wrott says:

    Silly, innit? The more so since a) Everybody knows what the word means, b) Everybody knows at least one, c) Everybody has been one.

    I suppose that the NYT’s reluctance to print the word “asshole” simply indicates that there are at least some assholes working for the paper. No surprise there. Them sumbitches are all over.

    Maybe they should try a synonym, like “mulepit”. Yeah. That oughta work.


  2. zhoen says:

    Because the folks at the NYT are assholes?


  3. onlycrook says:

    I refer to my ex-husbands as AH1 and AH2. Works for me.


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