February 14, 2008

Because "box of chocolate" doesn't fit in a 4x4 grid, I guess

In today's USA Today Quick Cross (a 4x4 word square), the second across entry is RAPE ("Pillage's partner). Way to stay classy, USA Today. Check out the puzzle yourself, if you don't believe me.

The really lame part is that they could have just changed the P in RAPE to an R to make RARE (crossing ERIC instead of EPIC).

(Thanks to Tyler for the tip.)

Posted by Francis at 05:26 PM

Weren't you once prevented from using "rape" as an answer even though you weren't using the forced-sex definition? I guess USA Today is who you should be writing for (but for the fact that the non-forced-sex definition would stump everyone who reads USA Today).

Posted by: Charles at February 14, 2008 06:12 PM

Yes, in Crasswords. One of the clues that got removed referenced "The Rape Song" from "The Fantasticks" (and while I thought it was an interesting piece of trivia that such a famous show had a song with "rape" in the title -- which got changed to "raid", by the way, in our high school production -- I still had to rewrite the crossword to get rid of that entry).

Posted by: Francis at February 14, 2008 10:57 PM

Can't it be clued as something like the seed that produces canola oil? Or am I thinking of the right thing here?

Posted by: gotcha at February 14, 2008 11:39 PM

It could be clued that way...but I think most editors would still rather shy away from it, because when the answer grid is published, the context of the clue is gone, and you just have the word RAPE sitting right there in the grid. It's only run in one mainstream crossword publication in the period currently covered in the Cruciverb.com archives, a Cathy Millhauser puzzle edited by Stan Newman, clued as "The ___ of the Lock" (Pope poem).

The problem of readers getting upset by an offensive word in an answer grid is not imaginary, even. I'm pretty sure I recall a daily Times puzzle that generated some angry letters when the answer for the clue "The ___ mightier than the sword" was published.

Posted by: Francis at February 15, 2008 12:21 AM

I just started doing a lot of crosswords in the last couple of months. I've heard of this "Sunday breakfast table rule," but I gotta say I don't see it. New York Times has somewhat risque material all the time. Today's NYT crossword has PORNO.

Also, while I could imagine people complaining about PORNO or PENIS, I find it hard to imagine a statistically significant number of people being offended by the word RAPE, whether it was clued as a sex crime or not. Who covers their ears at the word RAPE?

Posted by: Richard at February 16, 2008 02:48 AM

Never underestimate the ability of people to be offended. One time somebody raised a huge stink because [Monica] SELES crossed STAB. Unreal.

Posted by: Tyler at February 16, 2008 10:24 PM

The Onion is the most out-there newspaper crossword I've seen (which makes sense). This week, they had "JASS" clued by something like "Hugh _____ (joke name)".

Posted by: Genevieve at February 21, 2008 04:32 PM
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