Abu Ghraib again, inadvertent iambic pentameter, Girls, drunk driving, domestic violence, drool, Michael Cera, Blue Velvet, bareback sex, small talk, “a monkey making love to a baseboard heater,” french fries and suicide, Bakhtin and vintage hats, Seinfeld and genocide, petty theft, sweating man tits, minstrelsy, carwash sex, Ryan Lochte, bumper stickers, pigs’ blood, public masturbation, Peek-a-boo Barbie, “a veggie burger with too much mustard,” original sin, vandalism, body modification, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, rape, rape songs, Rosa Parks, lesbian fiction, cantaloupe, the MFA debate, the Midwest, sex ed, huffing, interspecies mating and a Walmart hot dog stand, female body hair, PTSD, 9/11, 9/11 again, and again, Michael Jackson, incontinence, “ham sandwiches, potato salad, jeans with elastic waists,” The Chronicles of Narnia, attempted murder, and Joan of Arc’s clitoris, to name a few.
No matter the vantage from which you take offense — as a vegetarian viewing Daniela Kovacic’s paintings or a celibate priest reading Beth Reed’s poems about muff divers and “cock-draining blondes” — the potential affront is ever-present. So how do you defend yourself against insult? How do we protect you, dear reader, from discomfort?
We are happy to apologize for an email, but never for our poetry, our essays, our stories, our art. To avoid offensiveness entirely would be to willingly confine ourselves, as politicians do, to a tiny, anodyne pocket of communicative space, hemmed in on all sides by the barbed fences of public opprobrium. Sometimes, our readers should be upset. Art and fart jokes and failure should unsettle. Displeasure, whether it leads to a wholesale boycott of Wag’s or of K. Silem Mohammad’s “Gwyneth Paltrow” (“thanks for the hate mail / I thought you were Gwyneth Paltrow / it’s sick the way you keep having sex without me”), at the very least shows engagement. We know that everything we publish won’t be for everybody — and nor should it.