In a hastily-issued press release today, Public Address publisher Russell Brown admitted that his site's annual Word of the Year vote "may have been used by terribly nice people to express a blessedly good sentiment."
Shortly after the announcement that the 2018 Public Address Word of the Year is "kindness", it was revealed that so-called Kindness t-shirts are already being sold by a company called Good Bitches Baking to raise money toward's the company's goal to "try to make the world a little bit less shitty, by baking treats for people having a tough time."
"I'm as shocked as everyone else," said Brown. "I had no idea our annual vote would be harnessed by people who want to make the world better."
In the wake of the announcement, it further emerged that the Public Address reader who nominated "kindness" for the vote, Nicole Murray, is in fact a co-founder of the Good Bitches enterprise.
"As the first person to nominate the winning word, which won the public vote by the proverbial country mile, Ms Murray has won a double pass to any date on Fat Freddy's Drop's boffo summer tour," said Brown.
"I have contacted her and her first response was to ask if she could give the tickets away to someone else. I simply can't explain the unabashed kindness on display here. I wish to apologise to anyone who is triggered by this and possibly made to feel that they should seek ways to practice kindness in their own lives, perhaps by buying a t-shirt."
Brown added: "I know it looks bad, but Richie Hardcore had nothing to do with this."
The Top 10 words for 2108, as voted by Public Address readers, are:
8. Virtue signalling
"It was nice to see 'mahi' get up to third in late voting," said Brown. "It's the latest word from te reo Māori to cross over into mainstream usage and it has a sense of soul to it. Ka pai.
"And a word about word number seven. As nominated, it was 'TERF', an acronym whose perceived meaning has become markedly more negative over the course of the year. I did wonder about not including it after it was nominated in the discussion, but reasoned that 2018 was the year in which a fairly large number of people heard it for the first time and then possibly wished they hadn't.
"But after a number of strongly-worded submissions via Twitter from people I don't even know in the UK, I have made the the decision to swap it out out with [gender-critical feminist]. In the context of a debate which sometimes seems to consist almost entirely of people trying to make each other feel bad, I figured that Christmas week was probably not the time to incrementally increase the overall level of feeling bad. Consider it an act of kindness."
Update: I thought putting an alternative term for #7 in brackets was a suitably snarky way to acknowledge all the people who were yelling at me last night. Clearly, it wasn't, as I now have another set of people expressing hurt and offence at what was meant to be neither hurtful or offensive. I've changed it back.