by Sam Worley
The folly of youth aside, other issues are at stake here, like—how long till butt chugging makes it into the OED? Maybe they can address the inconsistent application of the hyphen across media sources—"butt chugging" here, "butt-chugging" there, but "butt-chugging incident," let's all agree, or for that matter "butt-chugging enthusiast." It brings to mind a June blog post by Mary Norris, of the New Yorker's copyediting department, about a letter she'd received from a reader complaining that "star fucker," which had appeared in a story about Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, needed a hyphen. Why, sure, Norris agrees: "See how, with the hyphen, the weight of the word comes down on the first half of the compound? Star-fucker. Without the hyphen, the word tips, giving equal weight to both nouns and turning the compound from an insult to a term of endearment."
Indeed! Though our tendency here is actually in the opposite direction—the Reader style guide specifies open compounds like "mirth maker," for instance, not "mirth-maker"—I don't know what the rule is when the first word in the compound might also function, as in "star fucker," as an adjective. After the Reader copy department recently agreed that "douchebag" should, contra Merriam-Webster, be spelled as one word, a colleague asked in jest for further clarification: "motherfucker or mother fucker?" he wondered. Well, I suppose it depends on if you're using the expression in the pejorative sense or in the merely descriptive.
Speaking of pejorative, the highly embarrassed student, who calls butt chugging "gross and immoral" and strenuously denies having engaged in it, threw in for the record that he's not gay, which is obviously the first conclusion you'd draw upon hearing about a college student who (allegedly) tried funneling booze up his ass. He noted this in the first paragraph of a five-page statement he released the other day: "For the record, I am not a homosexual and I do not appreciate the media reports that infer that I am gay."
The proof of the pudding of Broughton's youth, anyway, has less to do with his alleged anal activities than with the fact that he thought he could deny being gay in the same public statement that he identified his plight with the single gayest cultural touchstone of the last century: The Wizard of Oz. Kids are (allegedly) drinking through their assholes when they could be learning about friends of Dorothy. Writes young Broughton, "The movie The Wizard of Oz has many parallels to this vicious media event which has taken place at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville during the past week which has helped to destroy my life." What are they? The paragraph that follows fails to follow up on this intriguing comparison—it's just a tease, a dalliance, but he drops the thread. On the other hand, the next paragraph begins, "Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore." Ah, innocence.