The prohibited T-word.

There’s an obscure exception in the First Amendment that prohibits the media from using the word, “toilet.” The Supreme Court, in an 1843 case, affirmed a Vermont ruling that “bathroom” is acceptable, to be used in place of the prohibited “T-word,” as the Court described “toilet.” The media has used “bathroom” ever since. (A bit of trivia: in arguments, lawyers referred to a plaintiff in the case as John Doe. This was the origin of the word “John” to describe a toilet.)

What brings this up is a paragraph in an AP story, June 16, 2018, about the start of commuter rail service between New Haven, Ct., and Springfield, MA, with 17 daily trains in each direction. Here it is: “There have been some early problems. About half of the trains, those operated by CTrail, use 30-year-old rail cars with bathrooms that are not accessible to the disabled. The Federal Railroad Administration recently ruled those bathrooms cannot be open to anyone until that problem is fixed.”

Imagine! Railroad cars with bathrooms: tiled walls, showers with adjustable-strength shower heads, marble jacuzzi, separate John and Jane stations, make-up tables with variable lighting, guest bathrobes, thick towels, hair driers — the works! Too bad they can’t be used until accessibility remodeling is completed.

File under: When you gotta go, take the bus.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *