When the P-Word Does Not Stand for Presidential & Why the Boys on the Bus Are Just as Guilty in the Trump Tapes
To say that our political discourse has reached a new low is putting it mildly. History--if our species survives--will look upon this time within the context of Spengler's Decline of the West and Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. We no longer even pretend to have a culture.
Although the hypocrisy innate to society must be called out and excoriated, it is sad to witness the lack of any effort to establish some standard by which we should live. Television has led the charge in this mad-dash rush over the Dodo bird cliff, since its ubiquity lends a tone of acceptability to the banal, the coarse, the shocking, the vile and the violent. But its comrades-in-arms are explicit lyrics in music, the no-holds-barred content on social media, and the overall tone of least-common-denominator marketing.
Gone viral now are video clips of whether the word pussy--in its lewd context having nothing to do with cats--should be used on television, and if so by whom. Give me a break.
Comedian Lenny Bruce claimed that you take the power out of racial slurs by overusing them. An idea that makes sense to me. But do we want to make those words part of our public discourse?
I champion the right of James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Erica Jong, and even Henry Miller to write any words they want. Yet I cringe when I hear the F-word flowing as freely as water from the mouths of 10-year-olds on bicycles.
Maybe societies--especially free ones--need boundaries the same as children do, if only to draw a line in the sand between acceptable and unacceptable. The late Johnny Carson was funny because his humor knew the locus of that line and danced as close to it as possible without crossing. His audience also knew where that line was, and that's what made his antics hilarious.
Which is why people often use the word "class" when referring to Carson. A word sadly lacking from the 2016 presidential campaign.
Of course, there would have been no TV commentary about the p-word had a presidential candidate not been recorded using it to describe his assault on a married woman who managed to fend him off. That incident speaks for itself. There is nothing I can say that has not already been covered in the politically motivated din. Except to ask, as one had to do with Deep Throat during the Nixon administration, who was it that leaked the tape. We need to know about people operating behind the scenes whose motives are suspect at best.
And while no would publicly approve of Trump's comments, shouldn't we also be looking at the role of Access Hollywood's Billy Bush and the other "boys on the bus" who went along with what Trump was saying, tacitly cheering him on and agreeing with him? This is the frat-boy mentality women must deal with every day. This is why there must be protests when a Stanford swimmer gets a slap on the hand for a sexual incident with an unconscious woman. This is why it was wrong for Megan Kelly to play footsies with Trump after he trashed her in the media and on Twitter. This is why parents must teach their sons to eschew vile language that belittles and dehumanizes women.
Because when language goes everything goes.
I'm a storyteller whose background includes talk radio, newspapers and TV news. I've hosted a morning-drive classical music program on the California coast and published nationally in Reader's Digest, the Christian Science Monitor, and Playboy. I've won awards for my journalism and my fiction. One of my essays even made it into an anthology for college English courses. For real? Yes, for real.
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