(warning… this discussion, while treated in an adult fashion, contains reference to words we do not like to hear from our youngsters. Please read it yourself before allowing them to read it, as well)
Still, there’s a controversy afoot, and I’m interested in your take. It is yet another case of “To PC or Not to PC”.
On or about January 25, Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, uttered the phrase “f-ing retarded,” either in reference to the people he was in meeting with (according to Sarah Palin’s Facebook Notes) or in reference to the idea of exposing Obama’s failures on the healthcare issue (according to the Wall Street Journal).
I have to wonder why this has not yet been blown up to the scandal that President Bush faced when he swore in front of an open mike (2006), or the professionally fatal blow delivered to Trent Lott over comments made at a roast honoring Strom Thurmond’s 100th Birthday.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to not be subject to yet another scandal – Lord knows we’ve had enough of them – but I have to wonder why.
To my knowledge, President George W. Bush swore once in public. He was excoriated for it, because it was “unpresidential” and he “should have known” that “any mike is a live mike.” We endured at least a week of shocked reporters discussing Vice President Cheney’s invitation to Senator Leahy to “f-himself”. But now, it seems like we hear about the potty-mouth tendencies of this administration with disturbing frequency:
- Rahm Emanuel says that an idea/group of people are “f’ing retarded”
- Van Jones calls Republicans “a-holes”
- Joe Biden says, “give me a f’ing break” on a live mike (“I didn’t know it was live”) in a March, 2009 meeting about Amtrak
- President Obama calls Kanye West a “jackass”
Why is there no uproar? Why is there no serious call for public apology, followed by a stint in rehab? Yes, Mr. Emanuel made a private phone call to Tim Shriver, CEO of Special Olympics, apologizing for the remark. Apparently, we are being asked to accept that the privately issued apology is enough. But it wasn’t enough for Bush, Cheney or Lott.
The only difference I see here is that most of the potty-mouthed incidents from the current administration are said in public, sometimes in press conferences (the Kanye statement), whereas the previous administration uttered most of their profanity behind closed doors. Or at least away from the public.
I do not have virgin ears. I am not saying that there should be no profanity at all. I’m an adult. I swear plenty, and I know that other adults swear plenty, as well. The difference is, I know the difference between acting in a professional manner – which includes finding substitutes for profane words when I’m in a public or professional situation – and swearing in an empty house when I stub my toe or trip over the dog.
Yeah, I know the answer, even as I ask the question. That was then, this is now. “They” were Republicans, these guys are Democrats.
Personally, I’m not sure that Mr. Emanuel should be fired over this comment. The word “retarded,” as politically incorrect as it is now, has been part of the vernacular as long as I can remember. I don’t know if it rises to the seriousness of the “n-word”, as Sarah Palin alleges, although I’m not quite sure why the “n-word” is as heinous as everyone makes it out to be. Perhaps that’s because I know and understand that words are only harmful if they’re used as weapons. There are plenty of occasions where any word that can be construed as “hate speech” can be used in an innocuous way. But in this atmosphere of Political Correctness, every word must be chosen with the utmost care, because every word that’s on “the list” is forbidden in any situation regardless of the context.
So, this long rant brings me back to my original question: Should Rahm Emanuel be fired for referring to people as “f-ing retarded”? (because I know plenty of you think he should be fired for other reasons).