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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

A reply to Will Baude re John Kerry & the F-word

In a post entitled "What's in an F-word," the always eloquent Will Baude of Crescat Sententia asks, "Am I the only person who actually admires Senator Kerry for using the 'F-word' in his Rolling Stone interview?" and comes to this conclusion:

Sure, Kerry's use of the f-word was probably calculated politics. What else is new? Ironically enough, I think that occasional uses of strong language display a bit of class.

But Will:   Except for once, in an update, and even for purposes of a quotation, you avoid using the word yourself in your post (as I have here as well).  Have you asked yourself why?

It probably wasn't because you think many of your readers "haven't heard the word before."  Rather, I suspect it's simply because you recognize that it's a crude word, and that using it would fall below a standard of civility you prefer to maintain for your blog.

I agree with you that Kerry was engaging in "calculated politics" — indeed, his use of the word rings false even from the printed page — but it was a miscalculation that shows just how aloof and out of touch the famously haughty, French-looking millionaire Democrat (who by the way served in Vietnam) actually is. 

Specifically, Kerry's use of the word in an on-the-record interview shows a lack of sensitivity to, and a lack of understanding of, most Americans.  Most of us — even if we use the word ourselves as an expletive when we hit our thumbs with hammers or in very casual private jokes and conversations with intimates — are capable of and insist upon recognizing different standards for different times, places, and contexts.  And simply put, most of us prefer our "national leaders" to maintain a certain standard of civility in what they say for public consumption, just as we hold ourselves to higher standards of decency when we're speaking or, especially, writing publicly and non-anonymously.

Thus, I no more applaud or condone Kerry's usage than I would applaud or condone Dubya if, in an act of public speech, he called Hillary Clinton a "c__t."  That would be unpardonably crude — the kind of conduct up with which Barbara Bush never would put, and not coincidentally the kind of conduct into which Dubya would never accidentally slip, much less something he'd deliberately undertake.  And yet I'm entirely untroubled, and in fact still amused, that in what was intended to be a private aside to Dick Cheney in front of a microphone that was supposed to be off, Dubya called Adam Clymer a "major-league a__hole."

Posted by Beldar at 08:30 AM in Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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