Asterisks and other seemingly harmless symbols that replace letters in words are not only useless, but diabolical. Writers routinely use this artifice under the erroneous assumption that they can disguise offensive language and thus avoid offending the tender sensibilities of the readers.
However, neither the writer nor the reader has gained anything, because when people see an ast*risked word, they assume that it's "bad", and will automatically stop and read it (several times if necessary), until they see the "bad" word they expect. This is particularly vexing for those of us who constantly strive to maintain absolute purity of thought, lest we be condemned to the eternal fires of damnation.
As dangerous as this convention is, it can be even worse, because an unscrupulous writer can use the conditioned reflexive response to the asterisk to lead readers to see offensive words where none actually exist.
The following examples are offered for your edification:
1. Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read "the *uck stops here".
2. I'll never replace my old-fashioned bed, because I have sl*ts under the box springs.
3. To a baseball fan, the most exciting play is the "suicide squeeze", where the runner on third base races for home just as the pitcher releases the ball, and the batter lays a perfect *unt halfway between the mound and first base.
4.Agribusiness uses NAFTA to flood Mexico with their cr*p.
5.When your mouth is full of toothpaste, remember to s*it before you swallow.
6.Larry Craig is a senator from Ida**.
7. Why do women prefer men who wear Aqua V*lva?
8.When you're too tired to accept a friend's last minute dinner invitation, you should decline by saying "Sorry, but I've got to take a p*ss tonight".
This sort of chicanery not only assaults our morals, but makes it more difficult for our government's illegal spy programs to uncover the millions of terrorist plots being planned at this very moment. The asterisk and other symbols confuse the data-mining programs so badly that they can't see that this piece obviously contains instructions for weaponizing anthrax.
I'm sure you see the danger inherent in the use of these symbols. Would you be willing to support a boycott to save both our souls and our country?