Romenesko reported yesterday that the Hearst Connecticut Media Group has banned from its comment boards the use of the word fracking, which sometimes refers to a hydraulic-fracturing process by which petroleum and natural gas are extracted from rocks beneath the earth’s surface. Fracking is objectionable for a number of reasons, not least its effects on the environment (and on the flammability levels of the water at nearby residences), but Hearst found it uncomfortable for reasons as follows: “Sadly, many of our users attempt to exploit a perfectly legitimate word as a replacement for it’s more vulgar cousin,” wrote Brett Mickelson, the executive producer of the Hearst Connecticut Media Group, employing what’s known in the trade as the “vulgar apostrophe” (like its cousin the normal apostrophe, only wrong). The entertainment industry is at fault: the vulgar usage was pioneered by the TV show Battlestar Galactica, in which characters used the word frack to stand in for it’s more vulgar cousin. There have been two Battlestar Galacticas; frack was actually introduced in the 70s version, but its usage was amplified in the awesome one with Edward James Olmos that ran during the aughts. (Its spelling changed too: the producers of the new version styled it frak so that it’d be a proper four-letter word.)
A multimedia extravaganza, below, illustrates the vulgar usage.