Comedian George Carlin isn't the only one around with a list of naughty words. As journalists, we have our own catalog of "red flag" words and expressions that are real no-no's.
By keeping the terms out of print, or at least making sure we handle them carefully, we hope to keep ourselves out of court.For example, though the BYU Cougar Eat is famous for its interesting confections, we wouldn't dare refer to its food as an adulteration of products.
Journalists, as well as others, also have to be careful with adultery, and heaven help us if we call the wrong person an atheist. In addition, we must be careful not to refer to attorneys as ambulance chasers, and the phrase attempted suicide is not a good idea, not to mention bad for your health.
Bigamy, though popular in some sectors, is out. We also have to be careful with booze-hound, bribery, buys votes, bad moral character, bankrupt and blockhead - leaving us few words to use when writing about politicians.
We can't refer to members of the Utah County Clean Air Coalition as communists, despite what Rep. Howard Nielson thinks of them. And we probably wouldn't call Nielson a coward when it comes to clean-air issues, despite what the coalition thinks of him. We have to be careful with cheats, crook and collusion, as well.
People may be drunkards and drug addicts, but you probably won't read about it unless they're celebrities, and we mustn't use deadbeats or deadheads when writing about members of political parties.
Once the three former Timpanogos Mental Health officials sentenced to prison in August have done their time, they'll be ex-convicts, but you won't hear it from us. We also do our best not to call people fools or fascists, thus limiting our ability to describe televangelists or Panamanian leaders.
We're careful never to call would-be public office holders fawning sycophants, and we could never refer to the 29 candidates running for city council seats in Provo and Orem as groveling office seekers.
We can call people gay only if they're happy and heterosexual.
Humbug is OK if used during the Christmas season. Hypocrite is out, as is illegitimate, notwithstanding a headline in this week's Orem Geneva Times - "Beware of illegitimate contractors."
We can't write much of illicit relations, infidelity and intimacy, or say any BYU football player has a Jekyll-Hyde personality.
Ku Klux Klan makes the list, along with kept woman. Liar is verboten except in reference to an old Three Dog Night song.
We can say someone has a mental disease only if a psychiatrist says so in court. And we have to be judicious in referring to people as Nazis, peeping Toms, perjurers, plagiarists, rascals, rogues, scandalmongers, scoundrels, seducers, shysters, skunks, slackers, sneaks, spies and stool pigeons - unless, of course, we work for the National Enquirer or People magazine.
Scam and swindle also are red flag words, though you might think otherwise when considering business practices in Utah.
We have to shy away from unethical and unprofessional, except when writing about politicians or other journalists, and we can't refer to unmarried mothers at all.
Regardless of our caution, journalists often are accused of being villains whose publications are little more than the product of vice dens. We'll never admit it, though.