Letter: Potty-mouth politics belong in private, not public

Posted 4/20/22

To the editor:Several days ago I entered my local gym only to see a twenty-something guy hoofing it on a treadmill, earbuds in, wearing a “F*** BIDEN” t-shirt. Writing this, I …

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Letter: Potty-mouth politics belong in private, not public

Posted

To the editor:

Several days ago I entered my local gym only to see a twenty-something guy hoofing it on a treadmill, earbuds in, wearing a “F*** BIDEN” t-shirt.

Writing this, I “bleeped” the word out of respect to this newspaper’s readers and its duty to meet and maintain an elevated sense of decency in public discourse. That’s as it should be. But the shirt was bleeping bleepless; it bluntly spelled out all four letters, big and bold. Doing so, it, and the man who wore it, shrugged off any accountability for meeting and maintaining even a shred of public decency and civic decorum. Simply put, it, and he, gave such old-fashioned notions as the finger.

This was the first time I encountered that particular swear fully spelled-out, though the “blank Biden” sentiment has been proliferating for a while: on bumper-stickers and window decals (often using an arrangement of assault rifles and/or handguns to form the swear’s four letters); as hash-tags; and on Let’s Go Brandon merchandise of all kinds (the story goes that at a political rally someone mistook the chant “f*** Joe Biden” for “let’s go, Brandon”; it’s now a trendy in-joke). Apparently, some view it as cool and cheeky, even gutsy, to incorporate profanity as part of their so-called principled, oppositional stance, as part of their unvarnished political “message.” Let’s Go Brandon? Let’s Go First Amendment!

Sorry. No. Swearing in this way is neither cool nor cheeky nor gutsy. It’s simply evidence of a childish, potty-mouth mentality. “Look at me! I’m saying bad words out loud!” And while “[Bleep]+whoever/whatever” may serve as a nod to like-minded potty-mouths, more broadly having this kind of vocal derogatory language entered into public discourse for any purpose, as part of any message, is an offense to the general community.

Don’t get me wrong: I curse like a sailor. Privately. So it’s not the language that offends me. It’s the brazenness of using such language in public, and the snotty attitude which holds that if I or anyone else is offended by it, well, “tough [bleep]” Or as another shirt I recently spotted in the gym said, “I don’t give a [bleep] about your feelings!”

The “[Bleep] Biden” message is not cool nor funny nor gutsy. “[Bleep] Trump” is not cool nor funny nor gutsy. “[Bleep]” anything expressed in public discourse is not cool nor funny nor gutsy. Instead, such behavior is simply corrosive to an already degraded standard for public engagement and basic civility among community-members, within their shared community space.

If we can’t rise above lazily hurling epithets at those we don’t like or with whom we disagree as being unacceptable public discourse, flat out wrong, we are headed for some very dark days. And those who don’t see that, or more likely simply don’t care, may be having their jollies, but in so doing they are taking a box cutter to the fabric of common decency and basic respect for others.

Jerry Blitefield
Beach Street
Warren

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.