“A sh*thead by any other name would smell as ignorant.” — (Infantile paraphrase by me of a line by William Shakespeare from “Romeo and Juliet.”)
The late comedian George Carlin wrote in 1972 about the seven dirty words one cannot say on TV. Then in 2016, when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was revealed to have uttered the words “grab ’em by the pussy” on a hot mike in 2005, the word pussy was bleeped or text-altered, and the seven dirty words prohibition that was still pretty much in effect for network television became eight dirty words.
In the months since, pussy has become normalized, routinely spoken aloud in the media, reducing the number back to the original seven.
But not any more. After it was revealed this week that our president, Donald Trump, had called Haiti and several African nations “shitholes” just days ago, the word shit can now be, and has been numerous times, uttered on national network and cable news, and I assume on radio as well.
By my new and revised count, there are now only six dirty words one cannot say on television.
I am not upset by the use of profanity. I actually embrace it. Being a lover of words, I appreciate the power a single word can wield. But because of the power of some extraordinary words, I believe they must be used wisely.
To quote a favorite New Yorker cartoon, wherein a mother admonishes her young son for swearing, “Only use profanity for emphasis, dear, otherwise you cheapen it.”
When my boys were little they were just like little boys (and girls) all over. They took undue delight in words like poopy, peepee, butt and fart. As part of their early childhood education, my husband and I made sure to teach them the lessons of the power of words, and when and where they were appropriate. The household rule was that when the boys were overtaken by the urge to use “toilet talk,” as we christened it, they were to excuse themselves to one of their bedrooms to engage in the guilty pleasure. Such talk was not for casual public indulgence.
As the boys got older and the words more graphic, their education continued to include enhanced lessons in what words were unacceptable in certain venues and among certain company.
For example, it was not acceptable to use words like f*ck, sh*t, c*ck, c*nt, or G**damn it in polite company (church, restaurants, stores and the like), but those words were acceptable in certain private discussions for emphasis because of the power and meaning they conveyed in certain context.
We often included George Carlin’s observations about language and profanity in our lessons with them. I like to think that proper use of vulgar language made them more articulate. Now, as grown men, both of them know the value and proper use of a powerful, specialized vocabulary.
What I am upset by is the use of irresponsible language of any kind, whether vulgar or polite in nature. I am upset when a world leader speaks ill of his or anyone else’s country or its leadership. Such careless use of language indicates poor judgment in seeing the big picture of international relations.
Such reckless oral communication exhibits that leader’s inability to look ahead to the consequences of charged rhetoric or racial/nationalistic slurs. A world leader who commits such linguistic crime should be held accountable for his recklessness. He should suffer consequences of some kind for the lax, undiplomatic attention to an important detail like words.
So why is it that our president continues to get away with oral murder? It’s not that we so-called “snowflakes” don’t get enraged. We do. And some congressional Democrats do cry foul into the Washington winds. But our calls for accountability are treated as foolish, insignificant and even naive, while evangelicals, conservatives and congessional Republicans make excuses for the president, try to “yeah but” us into believing this behavior is normal, or have selective amnesia about their witnessing it.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has underplayed the president’s transgression as “unfortunate” and “unhelpful.” While the rest of the world laughs at the president, and wonders what is wrong with our voting populace, and deepens its loathing and distrust for our nation, a country that used to serve as a lamp to the world, shining its light on the best and brightest concepts the world has yet developed and nurtured.
I have never claimed to be a lady. I have been known to let fly with a well-placed f-bomb. I can curse like a sailor when my emotions get the better of me. And as of tonight I am a woman at her f*cking wit’s end. I am f*cking tired of our sh*t-for-brains president demeaning my country with his damnable, ignorant thoughtlessness.
Who among President Trump’s supporters will exhibit the cajones to call him out as the foul-mouthed bigot that he is? Who among his beloved base will find the intellectual fortitude to condemn his petulant, childish, racist rhetoric?
Love or hate the president’s policies and political views, the manner in which he comports and expresses himself cannot stand uncensured. Donald Trump may yet have three years in office as our president. He must not be allowed, especially by his disciples, to further sully the reputation of the United States of America without being called to account.
The office of president must remain above civil reproach. Because, if he is allowed to continue in his narcissistic ways, together, we, all Americans, are victims of his selfish oral indulgence.