I Think I Got Screwed

If you ask me, the censorship code for comics is way too strict.

For example, here is today’s original strip:


But here is how it was changed for newspapers:


Is “Screw you” really that offensive of a phrase?  It doesn’t feel that way to me.

What do you think?





79 thoughts on “I Think I Got Screwed

  1. I had this conversation with a friend just the other day. I do not find “screw you” offensive. However I do find actual swear words offensive.

  2. “Screw you” seems less offensive to me. !@#$ implies “F*** You” in my world.

  3. Reading the “%@#…” makes me input a WORSE word than “SCREW”. It actually makes your strip harsher when it’s censored. From, Toona

  4. hey Stephan, in my head… oh never mind what Jim said – i read it as ‘F you’ with ‘Screw you’ so much milder – shtupidt people… in happier news though my copies of ‘Pearls Falls Fast’ and Timmy Failure 2 literally just were dropped off at my door via Amazon… now you’ll pretty much HAVE to include my stuffed dolphin, No_bob [because he doesn’t bob] in a future strip, right?

    love your work – keep on pasta man and if you’re ever in Oakland, SF area and would put up with a drink with/from a fan let me know – only in Americaland til August then back to being number 1 fan in South Africa

    love brett fish

  5. um.. by putting the cartoon swear symbols there, makes me think the F word in my head. so no, screw isn’t quite as naughty. *%#$@! you for reading my comments.

  6. I agree with Jim. I mentally inserted a word worse than “screw” when I read it this morning. Glad to know it was the censors that startled me and not your humor.

  7. I am not offended in the least bit. I agree with folks that the symbols make it look worse than the word screw!

  8. But they DID use the proper number of squiggles – 5, not 4 – so it couldn’t be the F word. Still, it’s unnecessary. Anyone that’s going to be offended by “screw you” has learned long ago not to read Pearls. They’d probably hate the puns, too.

  9. I’m writing the editor right now to complain because the crocodile’s not wearing pants. Even if he is hiding his *##%^ behind a shrub.

  10. My mind read a lot worse than “screw” when I saw symbols, so I’d say the censored version was actually worse tan the original.

  11. what? !@#$%^ means: “LOVE”. like the cute croc say: “love you, give mints?”

  12. Reminds me of Jimmy Kimmel’s Unnecessary Censorship bit – I automatically inserted a swear word much worse than screw.

    You should do an entire strip using the word screw in its other non-offensive forms. Then the final panel should be “screw you” and see what they do.

  13. As I have a very creative mind, invective/vituperative wise, the “censored” one is actually much worse that the original. And, hey, it is the Crocks and the IRS. 😉

  14. SP – interesting…I immediately thought you had meant Fuck instead of Screw. The censors made it worse to me. Fuck them.

    Eddie Dalton

  15. SP – I had immediately thought you had meant fuck instead of screw. The censors made it worse. Fuck them.

  16. As so many have said, the @$#%@ implies something far worse than “screw” :p

  17. I am less offended by screw you than I am the implication of the punctuation marks.

  18. I’m against censorship of the discussion of controversial ideas or issues, however I think it’s a good idea to be careful about using swear words or sexually loaded words. Many folks who enjoy a good hardy laugh don’t necessary care for that type of language.

  19. I’m sure others have noted this, but the best part about their decision to censor is that in many ways they made it MORE offensive. When I read this comic yesterday, my mind automatically read “Fuck you, government.” “Screw you” didn’t even occur to me. By censoring, they managed to make the word dirtier.

    I gotta say though, I like the censored “adult” version 🙂

  20. In retrospect, it is funnier the way they “censored’ it. It leaves more to the imagination. I like it better the way it way actually printed.

  21. “Screw you” is a common phrase used by all sorts of public people including religious conservatives.
    Personally, I find it in bad taste to use the phrase in a public setting. I cannot believe that people who use this vernacular phrase do not understand what it really means.
    Most people would not say “F*** You” in a public setting either on the radio, television or in print.
    And those that do would probably not say “I want to take my **** and **** it into your **** in the worst possible way just to make you feel bad!”
    Ergo, as this is what it means, why share this particular euphemism in a public setting?

    Nonetheless, as Mr. Pastis specializes in bad taste, particularly in punditry and, as the Crocs are the epitome of Mr. Pastis’ bad taste, I would make allowances for Mr. Pastis to use this offensive phrase in the proper setting.
    But, everyone else should just shut the f*** up and be decent!

  22. I am now expecting a strip in which every third or fourth word of each characters conversation is punctuation marks. Rat: “Hey Pig, you *&#$! my last donut!” Pig: “What? That’s so #%*&(@ not true! It was *&$@# g\ Goat!” Goat: “No *&^%$@#* way! I don’t even like *&^#$%^ donuts!” Croc’s next door: “Huh. Me geet *@&&^%$% filled dohnutz.”

  23. It just kind of looks like you meant something else that would have been more offensive. So when I would look at that I’d hear the even more offensive word in my mind instead of just ‘screw you’.

  24. I agree with the censors! “Screw” is a synonym for “f—.” And %@#@* is a good old comics tradition that lets use use our imaginations.
    I thoroughly enjoy your strip btw. And I am glad to read in the Washington Post that your wife didn’t actually throw you out!! I had to look this up after today’s strip which involves you taking someone to bed under (mildly) false pretenses…

  25. Indeed, vis a vis the wife…. After today’s strip, I figured that things were really on the &*%$##! Crocs (er… rocks)!

  26. They symbols are way funnier because to me, they encompass ALL the seven words you can’t say on t.v.

  27. It’s so commonly used that I’m sure most people take it how it is usually intended (a harsher way of saying tough luck in this context), but in this context it is meant to be a slightly less harsh way of saying f… you, so I’m not surprised that it was censored, especially as most people still consider the comic pages a place that is pretty much all ages appropriate.

    As others have mentioned, by using the *#@#$@ symbols, the word is left to the imagination of the reader. Sure, most over the age of ten or so are probably going substitute a harsher word than screw, but the substitution was probably made more with a mind to avoiding the ire of parents of younger children who would probably think the bad word was something like doo doo head or something like that.

    Lastly, it is sometimes good to have limits on how you can say things as it forces you to be more creative, as we have seen time and time again in this excellent strip.

  28. In my mind, seeing the #@%! symbols in the comics looks funny, thereby adding to the funniness of the comic. I guess I’m one of the few people who likes the modified version better. Harumph.

  29. The symbols make it seem much more inappropriate than it is. I can just imagine all of the people this morning hunched over their newspapers, trying to figure out which word it is

  30. Well, today on Tax Day, the LA Times placed a large black opaque tape to cover your entire comic strip. Glad I have the GoComics feed each day so I could see the original work. I really don’t think it’s so bad for a comic bear to make a meal of an IRS employee. Although the bear could probably find better meat to consume.

  31. My wife asked me to insert a threaded bolt to fix the cabinet, but unfortunately at that moment my rooster chose to faint. I had no choice but to reply, “Sorry darling, I can’t screw because my cock is limp.” Or is that too #*#^@^&#$ ?

  32. I think that if the reader is old enough to know the alternate meaning of screw then they probably don’t need to be protected and if the don’t know then what harm is done? You do what you think is O.K. and if the papers don’t agree with you then @$#/! them.

  33. I wholeheartedly agree with all the people who said that their minds put a worse word into the censored spot than “Screw you”. But that’s just because I’ve got a BAD potty mouth myself! Much congratulations on being nominated for the 2013 Reuben Award. This is your year Stephan!!
    Marcia R. May 22, 2014

  34. Saying Screw you to somebody is just as bad as saying You Suck, which is not derogatory. But saying F you is bad.

  35. Ironically, by censoring the word ‘screw’, they force the reader to assume you said ‘fuck’ instead, making it look worse censored than if they left it alone.

  36. If one of my students said it to me in class (elementary & middle school art) I’d send ’em to the office and tell their parents. And I’d suggest they read the Far Side.

  37. Interesting! From one point of view, your version is milder. As has been pointed out by others, the “censored” version implies a more coarse word. On the other hand, #@%!-type expressions have become a well-known, rather “safe” euphemism, whereas the bald reality of “screw you” steps all over that euphemism, and by association, the censors. So, in my opinion, the censors are slapping your wrist and reasserting their role in protecting the public, which you so handily ignored!

  38. So much depends upon context, does it not? Are you suggesting that your school scenario and Pasti’s strip of one “adult” Croc talking to an IRS agent are equivalent? Other than that, I’m with you about reading The Far Side. And Calvin & Hobbes, too.

  39. As many said above, I read it as “fuck you” when censored. To me, it just forces the audience to be the one doing the swearing rather than the comic strip, so at best it’s just a big “fuck you” to the people reading it and at worst actively damaging the culture of everything surrounding it.

    Honestly I find the censorship itself more offensive than any material it’s trying to obfuscate. You could do a strip that’s nothing but a cock and balls swearing and I’d be less offended than I am by the actual obscurification of the text. To me, it’s like they’re taking a giant shit on the artwork before printing it. I find it offensive in that it disrespects the artist, damages the artwork, and is a form of talking down to your audience. It’s as if the censors are saying to the artist “You aren’t allowed to be that expressive, we have to make sure your art appeals to the most drab sensibilities” and to the audience “you’re not mature enough to handle reality, so I’m going to cover it up and pretend it doesn’t exist.” News flash, even when I was young and first learning to read I was mature enough to handle even the harshest swears. When has censorship ever improved a piece of artwork?

  40. Late to the party here, but I think that the censor must be a close cousin of Tipper Gore, & still thinks this is the 80’s. The change was f’ing ridiculous, it was fine (& funnier) the way it was written.

  41. Personally I like the newspaper version better. It gives you the sense of a stronger swear word used by Croc’s accountant in the strip.

  42. I think the newspaper edited version is better. Leave it to older folks imagination, don’t plant the coarseness in the 10 year old’s mind.

  43. Is “Screw you” really that offensive of a phrase? No, absolutely not. The US has become a country full of weenies just looking for an excuse to be offended. Anyone that thinks “Screw you” is offensive is overly sensitive and needs to get over themselves. The term itself is a euphemism for something even more effective. You publish one of the very best and most popular comic strips available today, and one reason is that the language is much like that of regular folks. It’s my favorite and I never miss it. I repost it on my facebook page so my friends can enjoy it as well. So screw those folks that don’t like the language you use.

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