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Reynaldo went on to say that if the word is offensive to Jewish people, then crossword editors and constructors would be well advised to steer clear of ever allowing anything that can be interpreted as the lowercase “shylock.”
I have to say I agree. Factual cluing gets you only so far, in my opinion, and it’s important to write with an ear for not only what is entertaining, but also what will not offend. The bottom line for any product is whether it will sell, and I personally would not clue the entry “Jew” as “Shylock” in one of my puzzles, not just because I believe it to be off-putting, but also for fear of getting my employer into trouble (a good way to put a damper on my relationships with the few crossword venues that are left). Another published constructor put it this way: “I wouldn’t be too thrilled to see ‘Catholic’ clued as ‘Torquemada,’ for example, even though it is undoubtedly factual.”
So Barocas, though a Jew, would not be offended by the “Shylock” clue, and Deb Amlen. also a Jew, would not use it in a puzzle. There will always be differences in people’s views. The shame here is not so much that the clue was published, but that in all the discussion, practically no one mentioned that the rest of the puzzle happened to be terrific, a lively and sparkling way to pass the time.
Deb Amlen writes the “Wordplay” crossword blog for The New York Times and is the author of “It’s Not P.M.S., It’s You: A Totally Non-hormonal Analysis of Male Behavior” (Sterling Innovation, 2010).