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Tilting at Windmills

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January 8, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SALTY AND COLORFUL....Is the lefty blogosphere shrill and angry? Matt Yglesias comments:

It's obviously true that the blogosphere (and especially its progressive arm) involves a degree of vulgarity that wouldn't pass muster on television or in print, but the actual significance of this tends to escape me. Nevertheless, a lot of MSM types seem to enjoy pointing to this arbitrary stylistic difference between bloggers and "real" writers as a means of pre-empting consideration of criticism.

This seems both correct and disingenuous at the same time. I mean, the significance of relentless vulgarity is pretty well established in our society, isn't it? As we all know perfectly well, it's a common signal of anger and ill temper, so it's hardly a surprise that a lot of people interpret us four-word-loving bloggers as angry and ill tempered.

At the same time, we are adults here. Or we're supposed to be, anyway. But Olivier himself would be proud of the metaphorical smelling salts that blog critics regularly pretend to reach for whenever they read an actual swear word or two in a blog post. Buck up, folks!

Anyway, I have an idea. Nobody seems to mind when, say, soldiers or longshoremen cuss. It's usually described as "salty" or "colorful." So why can't bloggers be described as salty and colorful too? Journalists, please take note.

Kevin Drum 11:48 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (94)

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Comments

The bloggers-swear-too-much claim is bogus because it's a criticism designed to discredit all bloggers whether they swear or not.

The commercial media and pundits feel threatened by stuff that's new and bloggers in particular. This is just a proxy because they don't want to say what's really bothering them.

"Bloggers are threatening are business model."

"Blogs will change how people become pundits and I might lose stature."

But if the commercial media and pundits said what's really bothering them, no one would have much sympathy.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 8, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

"our business model"

lo siento mucho

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 8, 2007 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Thinking of colorful and salty, maybe the blogosphere needs a theme song like "Chocolate Salty Balls"... ;-)

Posted by: David W. on January 8, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Of course we're angry.

Though I usually don't think of Al Franken as much of a pundit, or a comedian, I'll refer to the quote they use on his show-ad on air america;

"If you can't get angry at the things this guy has done, then I don't know what you can get angry at."

All we want is Justice.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 8, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck yes, I'm angry and ill-tempered! have these asshats been sleepwalking through the last six god-damned years! Jesus chocolate-covered Christ! They need to grow the fuck up. We have all known the words since 3rd or 4th grade, and been able to properly use them since at least the 5th or 6th, so WTF, mate?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

Journalists of a certain era were notorious for their hard-drinking and colorful language -- just not in print.

I think this is just jealousy. MSM has to be colorless and (they feel) opinion-less

Posted by: Tentakles on January 8, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Establishment practitioners of High Broderism have a curious idea of what's offensive and what isn't. F-bombs have them reaching for the smelling salts; a right-wing talk show host or columnists advocates genocide or the assassination of inconvenient foreign leaders (ie Chavez) and they cluck about "both sides being irrational".

Posted by: Jim on January 8, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

vonnegut said that swearing gives people who don't agree with you an excuse not to listen. OTOH, fuck fuckity fuck.

Posted by: benjoya on January 8, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

That's disingenuous Hansen. Where was your outrage for all those years as Limbaugh denigrated women as "feminazi's" and the hatred and bilge he has spewed?

Fuck it. Now I hit back.

And no Christian has ever shown the least concern about offending me, so..whatever. Be offended. I honestly could not care less. If you don't want to read what I have to say, don't read my comments or visit my site.

I am not beholden to advertisers, so fuck the offended.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

If you arrogantly believe your opponents to be so beneath you that you have to swear at them, why write at all.
Posted by: John Hansen

Probably because we've been pretty much correct on all matters civil and domestic for the past 5 years, while you've been dead wrong?

Our current liberal streak of knowing what we're talking about may actually serve to educate you, and this fact alone should allow you some pause to slow down and read.

Posted by: Nads on January 8, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'd cuss a lot less if we could export all our repugs to Iraq.

The sooner the better of course.


Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on January 8, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Just another chapter in the story of the Ever-Moving Goalposts, which the traditional media uses to justify its internalization of Radical Republican narratives.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 8, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote, "Nobody seems to mind when, say, soldiers or longshoremen cuss. It's usually described as "salty" or "colorful."

However, that language spoken in anger by soldiers, longshoremen or whoever, is spoken not written. Hopefully those who take the time to write something thoughtful or even provocative can find more appropriate words. Now before you all throw stones at me let me assure that I use "salty language" every day of my life. I'm not necessarily proud of it but I do. But I try not to actually write those words on paper (or websites). In fact, I believe there is only one legitimate swear word that should be used by adults and that is BULLSHIT. And most of what is written above is just that.

Posted by: lamonte on January 8, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Like anything else, it's a completely arbitrary standard. John Mccain uses foul language which shows he's authentic. Dick Cheney tells a Senator to go fuck himself, which proves he's manly and wants to cut through Washington inaction. If Howard Dean swears, it's because he's angry and out of control. Al Gore apparently doesn't swear in public, which shows he's a phony. When a blogger swears, it's because he's part of the angry left and therefore insignificant.

Posted by: Alex on January 8, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

So many things going on here.

1. Aristocrats always condemn the salty language of the people because the people are direct and honest which makes them hard to control. Aritocrats and their supporters are sophistocated and mendacious. Vulgarity is a sign of honest popular opinion and the journo courtiers of Washington know it and want to shut it down because they've based their carreers on being sophisticated rather than moral.

2. The intertubes are a big place. There are sites that use reason (here and TPM) there are sites that use outrage, sites that use satire and sites that use comedy. People who point to the mocking passionate vulgarity of the net are afraid of the reasoned commentary and want the general public to ignore it. The "it's all vulgarity" libel is pixie dust to keep people from seeing the excellent arguments against "our betters"

Unfortunately for the Washingting courtier class, We The People can read and it is only a matter of time before one finds the site that communicates in the style that one is receptive to. The supply creates the demand -every good right winger should know that :) (economist joke)

Posted by: Nemesis on January 8, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Words are only words until we ascribe meaning to them. Some of the most vulgar dialogue I have ever heard or seen in writing was from right-wingers. If you don't believe me, venture over to FreeRepublic.com. The old NewsMax Forum, an early right-wing chat board in the late 1990's, had to be taken down because it got so obscene and people were making death threats against each other, e-mailing people at work, posting pornographic pictures, etc. It was ugly. Don't let anyone tell you the left-wing is more uncivil.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 8, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I have to admit that f-bombs are not very effective communication tools in most cases. That said, sometimes, in the face ever renewing examples of the unrelenting incompetence and duplicity of the current administration and its enablers in the Republican party, we regular folks are tempted to use them.

If the right wing would give us less to cuss about maybe we wouldn't cuss as much.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 8, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

I remember one traditional media pundit whining about a personal attack in response to statements that advocated the government torturing people.

The pundit class definitely sees themselves as elites.

It's OK for them to advocate torturing regular people, but they should be protected from personal attacks.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on January 8, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'd much rather hear or read the F-word than bear the obscene and offensive harangue of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter. Bill O'Reilly yells, "Shut up!" He's free to do so but his body language, grimacing face, and tone of voice read to me, STFU! whether he says the F-word it or not.

Carl Nyberg: The bloggers-swear-too-much claim is bogus because it's a criticism designed to discredit all bloggers whether they swear or not.

That's my take on the subject as well.

What's more offensive to me than swearing are half-truths, blatant lies, and obfuscation. On that score, politicians, the media, and Michelle Malkin types assault us with profanity. I'd like to tell them to go Cheney themselves.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 8, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Those media types still don't get that we're angry for having our patriotism questioned for opposing the war in Iraq. We have every right to be "shrill".

Those same media types never questioned the patriotism of those who opposed Clintons military excursions. In fact, those same media types were questioning whether Clinton was diverting attention away from Monica using a "wag the dog" political strategy.

Their just embarrassed and upset that bloggers are now holding the media accountable for their distortions and falsehoods.

Posted by: AkaDad on January 8, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin is missing Matt's point about the significance of the swearing. My impression is that Matt was referring to the significance of the profanity in the context of the larger political debate, not the motives for the profanity. Obviously swearing is an indication of anger, but that doesn't have much to do with the question of whether or not profanity should somehow automatically disqualify a person's opinions.

Posted by: RP on January 8, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I have read editorials in the LA Times written by Martin Peretz and others that cannot be categorized as humane.

To the publishers of the LA Times, Peretz' inhumanity is better than bloggers' vulgarity. I have a lot of contempt for that.

Posted by: Brojo on January 8, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

My father in law once said (quoting someone else) that cussing is a weak mind trying to exert itself by force.

To which I replied, "Pretty fucking much."

Hell, I have a pair of English degrees, so you'd think that I could come up with alternatives. But sometimes a good expletive is useful ... a way to vent and express yourself in a language that really is limited in a number of ways ...

It's also a way to show your displeasure when your piece of fucking shit football team full of fucktards and cockmonkeys can't get a goddamned first down for forty minutes because the asshole running the team lied about replacing the starting QB if that QB started to suck sweaty donkey balls and ...

Um ... sorry. You'd think I'd be used the Chiefs sucking in the postseason. I'm not.

Posted by: Unholy Moses on January 8, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

I don't swear (no, really, I don't), but I did use the dreaded f-word in my blog once. Of course, I was pretending to quote the vice president.

Posted by: Zeno on January 8, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck the MSM and all their "types."

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 8, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

You'd think I'd be used the Chiefs sucking in the postseason. I'm not.

The Griefs resurfaced, but at least Herm isn't a Weeping Wilma like Vermiel was...

I was emailing with the Divine MsN on Saturday and excused myself from the conversation by saying that the Chiefs would probably only get one playoff game this year, and I wans't gonna miss it.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

"Nobody seems to mind when, say, soldiers or longshoremen cuss. It's usually described as "salty" or "colorful."

I also have to relate a story here; my brother-in-law was a Marine, and his family has 3 generations of Marines. He says he does not intend to send his kids to the Marines - he originally planned to, already had appointments to VMI racked for them, but he says that the social standards in the Corps now are different than when he joined. When he joined, it was about honor, and personal integrity, and serving. There was no cussing allowed by recruits. Now it's "worse than the regular Navy" he says.

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 8, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I believe of Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he would be anF-bomb dropping blogger of the first order, and that's good enough for me.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Written epithets are more an expression of impotence than anger. I can do very little to stop the sending of troops to Iraq or the killing of Iraqis by those troops. I can tell the president to fuck off, or worse, and it has real meaning, though it changes nothing. There is no argument, no statement, and no epithet I can express that is going to bring about the policies I desire, so I flail about with hostile rhetoric in the hopes that my head will not explode while my heart aches.

Posted by: Brojo on January 8, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

If blog critics were simply saying that blogger vulgarity means bloggers are angry and ill-tempered, then I wouldn't care about the criticisms. By most accounts, LBJ, Nixon, and even Bobby Kennedy were generally vulgar, angry and ill-tempered.

However, I think blog critics are generally implying that blogger vulgarity somehow means that blogs shouldn't be taken seriously. That's what is teh suck about their criticisms.

Posted by: Sean on January 8, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Now it's "worse than the regular Navy" he says.

Harsh. The only saving grace is that he didn't say it was "as bad as the Army".

Posted by: ajay on January 8, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Be offended.

That is the good reason for using vulgarity. If I cannot hope to change policy or attitudes, I can at least offend those I implacably oppose with language.

Posted by: Brojo on January 8, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Because Corporate journo schmucks are insulated.

Posted by: Jack Mousse on January 8, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Carl Nyberg on January 8, 2007 at 12:11 PM:

..it's a criticism designed to discredit all bloggers whether they swear or not.

Absolutely. But I wonder if all the criticism is actually driving readership to the web, initially to see what all the fuss is about and perhaps revisiting once they experience the open exchange of ideas.

John Hansen on January 8, 2007 at 12:29 PM:

Swearing should not be done because it is contemptuous of the readership.

Man, you must be missing out on so many literary classics...

It says that I can not use normal languange to communicate my thoughts so I must exort to the vulgar and shocking.

I could say that your post is full of male bovine fecal matter. Does phrasing a sentiment in this way make the sentiment expressed less offensive?

Besides it deliberately offends much of the audience.

Only if your definition of 'audience' is that they are exactly like you, John.

Why would you want to deliberately offend those you are trying to persuade.

GC got your attention, didn't she?

The power of communication lies in our ability to put thoughts out there in a manner that can be understood by political friend and foe.

Yet you didn't seem to have a problem understanding GC, did you, John?

Profanity laced comments display the contempt of the writer for anyone who disagrees.

Plenty of writers display contempt for people who disagree, regardless of choice in wording.

Posted by: grape_crush on January 8, 2007 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

none of what Kevin Drum is saying here is even remotely scientifically accurate. He should frankly be ashamed of himself for distributing urban legends and folksways and calling it science. NO, vulgarity isn't considered by mental health professionals to be a sign of evil or anger or anything. It's a sign that the area you're from uses vulgarity a lot. It's also a sign of class, so it's not shocking a man like Kevin Drum wants to pretend poor people are all angry and wicked. That's his M.O. and has been since he started blogging.

Posted by: soullite on January 8, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I have soooo had it up to my fucking eyebrows with the Hansens of the world. YOU ASSHOLES ARE THE PROBLEM, and to quote Shakespear: Methinks thou art a general offense and every man should beat thee."

I was sorry to see his disingenuous BULLSHIT got deleted. I was quite enjoying jumping all over the hypocrisy he so deftly displays every time he enters a discussion here.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

You'd think I'd be used the Chiefs sucking in the postseason. I'm not.

Unholy Moses.

The Chiefs and my cussing cost me dearly Saturday afternoon.

I was alone with my television watching that debacle. My wife openned the door just as the Colt's defense was crushing Johnson down at the goal line. Not even aware of her presence I unleased a line of cussing at the tv screen my wife had never heard from me. Something like "F* you Herm Edwards, Why don't you call plays intended to win the F*ing, G**D*** game. @%*!##!" She quietly closed the door and went shopping again.

The Chiefs and cussing cost me dearly.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 8, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

When I was in the USAF, we all cursed like 'regular Navy' (I guess). Wasn't many women around, but those that were let it rip as well. As someone above pointed out though, some jerks will use the presence of a dirty word as a convenient reason not to address whatever point you might be trying to make.

Posted by: Paul in KY on January 8, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

It should be noted that people who pick over language are often viewed with more hostility than those who use vulgarity. Nobody likes a scold, and nobody likes to be treated like children. Ultimately, people who pick over vulgarity are the same sort of people who run around correcting other peoples grammar and other peoples spelling. They want to pretend that they are better people than everyone else, so that they can feel better about themselves. People see through that, and they don't like it. If you want to be a better person, try actually being a better person.

Posted by: soullite on January 8, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Paul, you can use their fake outrage to turn other against them, as I noted above. Make sure you make their arrogance and elitism an issue. Ask them why they think it's their place to correct other people. Ask them if they're children, and of their offended by adult things. Call them weak, in essence though not so bluntly. Call them arrogant. Look at those who have spoken up in defense of "purity" here. How many popularity contests are they going to win?

Posted by: soullite on January 8, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bingo, Soullite. I'll take profane over pedantic any day of the week.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

a lot of MSM types seem to enjoy pointing to this arbitrary stylistic difference between bloggers and "real" writers as a means of pre-empting consideration of criticism

I'd trust Hunter S Thompson over Broder, Cohen, Brooks and their ilk any day of the week.

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen wrote: That's disingenuous Hansen.

Truer words were never spoken. ;)

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory - I'll take my conservative commentary from the likes of P.J. O'Rourke. At least his insanity is from heavy drug use and isn't organic in etiology.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13 wrote: What's more offensive to me than swearing are half-truths, blatant lies, and obfuscation. On that score, politicians, the media, and Michelle Malkin types assault us with profanity.

And not a few of the Bush apologists who post here, I might add.

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Now, now GC. Calm down, sweetie.

*smiles - waves*

I'm actually usually fairly restrained but if I think something's a damned clusterfuck then that's what I'm going to call it.

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 8, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

is the blogosphere "vulgarity" any worse than Cheney on the Senate floor?

Posted by: ckelly on January 8, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

*smiles-waves back*

I do get a little bit excited at times. But what pray tell can you call a clusterfuck but a clusterfuck? Intense copulation? Is that better?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

...a few of the Bush apologists who post here, I might add.

To quote you, Gregory: "Truer words were never spoken."

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 8, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'll take my conservative commentary from the likes of P.J. O'Rourke.

Props to him -- he wrote -- and back in the '80s, yet! -- that the Republicans are the party that claims government doesn't work, and then get elected and prove it.

Dubya and the late, unlamented GOP Congress proved him right on that score.

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Why was/were Hanson's comment(s) deleted?

Posted by: Brojo on January 8, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK
The Chiefs and cussing cost me dearly. --Ron Byers

That's gotta suck.

I missed most of the game (we don't have cable and it was like trying to watch it through a black and white blizzard), but the parts we saw weren't pretty.

And my wife actually cussed more than I did. Of course, she hasn't been a Chiefs fan for 25 years, so she's not used to the countless debacles.

On topic:

As others have noted, the corporate media has been trying to discredit the blogosphere since its inception, and this is just another shot at doing so.

What they don't realize, however, is that younger generations aren't as offended by profanity as much as the baby boomers are -- and it's the younger generation that's turning to online, alternative news sources more often.

In other words, the blogsphere -- while primarily dominated by middle aged folks -- is, in reality, appealing to a much younger demographic that doesn't give a rat's ass about a few four letter words.

Posted by: Unholy Moses on January 8, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

There's a big difference between speech and print, and the constant use of obscenity and vulgarity in print is tiring to read---it's like listening to someone who insists on talking too loudly, or READING TEXT WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS---and, oddly enough, we accept quite readily the admonition not write in all caps. I really prefer that obscenity and vulgarity be reserved for rare use, which BTW gives it more power. YMMV.

Posted by: LeisureGuy on January 8, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

A guy could get rich selling diapers around here.

Posted by: Billy Bob Shranzburg on January 8, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Rolling on the floor at the notion that Boomers are so easily shocked by 'salty language'.

Holy crap.

Generalizations like this make no sense.

Last time I recall being genuinely shocked was when I was about 16 and the elderly lady who lived next door was getting out of her daughter's car. She stepped in a mud puddle at the curb and said, very loudly and distinctly, "Holy fucking Jesus!"

Then thought about it a bit and I realized she'd been of an age to have been a Flapper...Roaring 20's and whatnot...

Nothing new under the Sun, boys and girls.

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 8, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

"The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it."
P. J. O'Rourke

"No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power."
P. J. O'Rourke

Posted by: MsNThrope on January 8, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Soldiers and longshoremen aren't supposed to know how to write, first of all. I mean as their primary means of expression, which writing is in the blogosphere.

The other thing to observe is that soldiers and longshoremen (and athletes, firemen, duck hunters and so forth) use profanity most often in one another's company. This is pertinent to the left blogosphere, most of the audience for which consists of people who already agree with what liberal bloggers are likely to write.

The familiarity implied by a liberal use of profanity makes perfect sense in this context. If you're reading a liberal blog to have your own views reinforced you're less likely to look on the promiscuous use of profanity as a sign that the writer is under-educated, ill-bred, under chemical influence, or so accustomed to thinking of life as a constant struggle to get high and get laid that he can express himself in no other terms. You're more apt to think of such a writer as passionate and even courageous.

Posted by: Zathras on January 8, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Zathras wrote: This is pertinent to the left blogosphere, most of the audience for which consists of people who already agree with what liberal bloggers are likely to write.

As opposed to what, the audience for the conservative blogosphere? Pull the other one!

If you're reading a conservative blog to have your own views reinforced you're less likely to look on the promiscuous use of fantasy, half-truths, long-debunked myths and outright lies as a sign that the writer is under-educated, ill-bred, under chemical influence, outright dishonest or so accustomed to thinking of life as a constant struggle to stave off the fear of scary brown people that he can express himself in no other terms. You're more apt to think of such a writer as passionate and even courageous.

And maybe even honest. But that doesn't make it so, does it?

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

By the by -- Soldiers and longshoremen aren't supposed to know how to write

I'm sure that comes as a great surprise to Norman Mailer, Erich Maria Remarque, T. E. Lawrence, Kurt Vonnegut, Gustav Hasford, Xenophon and George Orwell.

Posted by: Gregory on January 8, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Everyday people, in real life, the man and woman on the street, cuss for emphasis (and often in humor/irony) a lot more than our elite pundits care to admit (or even know for that matter).

Posted by: Jimm on January 8, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

My question - exactly what is a longshoreman? Just a sailor? Is there a difference?

Posted by: Steve W, on January 8, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Longshoremen work the docks and handle the cargo that is unloaded.

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 8, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK
Rolling on the floor at the notion that Boomers are so easily shocked by 'salty language'.

Holy crap.

Generalizations like this make no sense.
--MsNThrope

Sorry ... that was probably directed at me. And you're right -- shouldn't have been so broad with my brush.

It's just that I don't seem to remember reading/seeing/hearing that many GenXers complain about foul langauge on blogs or ... well, anywhere else. Granted, I'm sure they're out there, but I have yet to see them.

Either that, or we just haven't gotten to that age where we go around complaining about those damned kids and their loud music and their **insert fashion trend here** and all them dirty words on the Intrawebs.

Give us a few more years ... we'll get there.

:-)

Posted by: Unholy Moses on January 8, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to tell them to go Cheney themselves.
Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 8, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Does this mean to go fuck themselves or to go shoot themselves in the face?

Posted by: E. Henry Thripshaw on January 8, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

My all-time favorite actress, Carole Lombard, was famous for her blue language on the set; she was known as "the profane angel." But she was also beloved for her generosity and lack of pretense. I wish she were here today; I'm sure she'd come up with some inventive invective to describe George W. Bush, Ann Coulter, Billo, etc.

Posted by: Vincent on January 8, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's only a problem because it fails to convince and interrupts the flow, signifying the inability to explain something better or fully.

But because it does all these things, it is a problem for those who practice it.

That having been said, the posters who point out the extreme double standard in which Rush Limbaugh gets a free pass but Firedoglake gets taken to the woodshed are correct. For Los Angeles locals, I would point out that KFI radio jocks John and Ken used to be really vulgar, referring to our former governor as "that bastard" and "gumby" routinely. They refer to PR people as "spokesholes" routinely. I wonder where all those tender sensibilities are when it comes to the routine destruction of the language on the right.

Posted by: Bob G on January 8, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen: what pray tell can you call a clusterfuck but a clusterfuck?

Circular firing squad? SNAFU? FUBAR? (Yes, I realize what they are acronyms for.) Circle jerk?Bush cabinet meeting?

soullite : It should be noted that people who pick over language are often viewed with more hostility than those who use vulgarity.

Right on. One of my pet peeves is people with pet language peeves based on some false sense of linguistic correctness based on what they learned from Mrs. Grundy in 8th grade rather than the way native speakers use the language. Profanity is part of the language, and objecting to it is like objecting to ending a sentence with a preposition.

Strictly speaking, "fuck" isn't even slang, because everybody knows what it means. Instead of slang, it is taboo, and fuck taboos.

Gregory: I'm sure that comes as a great surprise to Norman Mailer, Erich Maria Remarque, T. E. Lawrence, Kurt Vonnegut, Gustav Hasford, Xenophon and George Orwell.

And Eric Hoffer, Thucyides, Lao Tzu, Von Clauswitz, Julius Caesar, Ernest Hemingway (if being an ambulance driver in a war counts), Erich Maria Remarque, Ambrose Bierce ... God, the list goes on and on.

Posted by: anandine on January 8, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Longshoremen? We still have longshoremen? I thought all that was done by robots, cranes and davits.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on January 8, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck yes, we are rude, crude and abusive, and if you don't like it, you can kiss my butt.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 8, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

I, for one, am a "POed Lib", which stands for "pissed-off Liberal". I am POed by many liberals, because they try to see both sides. Fuck that, jack. Conservatives are wrong and when they aren't wrong, they are stupid.

I'm tired of rolling over and being nice, and if that sounds hostile, well HEEELLLLLOOOOO it really really is.

Posted by: POed Lib on January 8, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives are wrong and when they aren't wrong, they are stupid.

I object to your implication that conservatives are right when they are stupid.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 8, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen,

I believe of Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he would be an F-bomb dropping blogger of the first order, and that's good enough for me.

As usual you hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head.

Posted by: Edo on January 8, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

MsNThrope,

Then thought about it a bit and I realized she'd been of an age to have been a Flapper...Roaring 20's and whatnot...

Now that was a great anecdote. Thanks!

Posted by: Edo on January 8, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

spokesholes...that's a good one

Posted by: Jimm on January 8, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Fuckin' A Right!

Posted by: Mac on January 8, 2007 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Four years ago, one of my Fox-news loving mother's friends was visiting for lunch. This woman was the mother of my best friend in childhood, and I had always considered her my "second mom." It was a lovely lunch, and I was so saddened to learn that she was going blind--she's 85.

Anyway, we strayed into a discussion of the Bush administration, the war, and I mentioned something about Dick Cheney. This lovely petite, polite woman whom I had never heard say a "nasty word" (as my mom calls 'em) got fire in her eyes and almost shouted, "That fucking Dick Cheney! That fucking DICK! That Fucker!" No other word would do--she was almost spitting with rage. My mother's mouth was wide open. I could tell there were no other words strong enough to express her outrage. "That fucking Dick should rot in hell!"

I got tears in my eyes. I wanted to kiss her. I took her hand in mine and laughed--"They sure are a bunch of fuckers, aren't they?" My mom gave me one of her patented withering looks.

"Yeah, and they are fucking us all those godamned fuckers!"

It is a moment I still cherish. She is almost completely blind now, and mom rarely sees her. Mom is one of the 25% or so who still believe Bush is a man of God and all of us cussing liberals are going to hell.

At least I be with a "colorful" crowd.

Posted by: DSC on January 8, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

This seems both correct and disingenuous at the same time. I mean, the significance of relentless vulgarity is pretty well established in our society, isn't it? As we all know perfectly well, it's a common signal of anger and ill temper

This is you being disingenuous. As Atrios notes today, tons of people swear constantly -- including, let's say, members of the beltway crowd -- for reasons that have nothing to do with anger or ill temper. Indeed, my time in newsrooms was filled with journalists who (to use a tired cliche) swore like sailors for no particular reason, and certainly not out of anger. Grown-ups use naughty word sometimes, and if Joe Klein doesn't like that he can go fuck himself.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on January 8, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm. Interesting. Cussing seems to have a challenging aspect to it on more than one level. The level I notice is that the cusser is saying, "Hey, I can cuss well. Can't you?"

If they can't, then there is some sort of problem in them. They fail the challenge. I don't know if I could really trust a person who couldn't, in a pinch, cuss well. The trolls here, for example, have let slip certain sick attitudes in their responses to getting well cussed out. Hence they are personally untrustworthy in my estimation, for they don't have the openess and generosity of spirit to respond spontaneously and honestly. So cussing exposes them, as it does the MSM, though the latter's journalists usually can let loose in private.

Posted by: Bob M on January 8, 2007 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

When you overhear someone else curse, 95% of the time they just sound stupid.

Posted by: MNPundi on January 8, 2007 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

There's a misunderstanding here -- the root of the problem is that the left blogosphere doesn't understand the common MSM use of the non-alphanumeric keys on the keyboard..Where the MSM will daintily edit to "Then the leftwinger shouted, 'F*%k Bush's g#dd@^m sh*)%y war!" the leftwinger just spells the words out.

Posted by: David on January 8, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

People who use foul language should STFU.

Posted by: josef on January 8, 2007 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't mind the swearing, but I don't really want my nieces and nephews, or sister, or mom or dad to have to contend. Kinda seems like unnecessary bullying.

Posted by: ferd on January 8, 2007 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

E. Henry Thripshaw on January 8, 2007 at 3:56 PM

I meant the former not realizing that "to go Cheney themselves" could mean the latter.

Awhile back, James Wolcott, a "real" writer, aptly dismantled TNR/Lee Siegel's attacks on the Angry Bloggers of the liberal blogosphere. This stood out from Wolcott:

I suspect that part of the peevishness Siegel and his fellow epicureans of ideas feel towards the angry amoebas of the blogsphere is rooted in the uncomfortable knowledge that sites such as Daily Kos, Atrios, and Steve and Jen's News Blog proved a helluva lot more right about the debacle in Iraq than the battle cries of the Beltway intelligentsia.

So the best the media can pony up is that the lefty blogosphere uses vulgar language, and therefore, its criticism is somehow less credible than a "real" writer? Wow! So tell me, who failed the American public with their lack of scrutiny and criticism of the words and deeds of the Bush Administration, of a war trumped up on false pretenses that has become the Iraq quagmire?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 9, 2007 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

In other words, if you can't use profanity to describe an obscenity, when the fuck can you use it?

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 9, 2007 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Abso-fuckin'-lutely the point, Globe.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 9, 2007 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

thank you. thank you very much. (bowing reverentially)

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 9, 2007 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, remember when angry was good? In 1994, as the angry white males propelled the Newt and his revoltinglution, angry was good!

Now that it's directed at them, they aren't so enamored of the phenomenon.

Well TFB, Bub. Deal. You don't want to deal with an angry electorate prone to giving you hell in specific terms? Try governing competently, not starting illegal wars, and not pissing off 70% of the country.

Personally, I have received very few ass-chewings I didn't deserve, and on balance, I've deserved more than I have gotten. Just sayin...

Posted by: Global Citizen on January 9, 2007 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Re: the flapper story: Peg Bracken, the 'womens' columnist in the '60-'70 (the "I hate to cook book" was an interesting pre feminist document) wrote a story about the 'dynamically mature' which she thought was a splendid euphemism for 'old'. And she told the story of a 'dynamically mature' neighbor who's gentility slipped when she said "oh shit, I stepped in doggie do-do!" (I think this was in a collection of her columns called "I didn't come here to argue".)
I think of David Broder when I read this.

Posted by: Mr. Bill on January 9, 2007 at 6:55 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers and GC,

Too dispirited in the King Carl reign to curse. However, I damn near broke the TV with a basketball the year Jan Stenurud missed the winning 31 yarder against Miami on Christmas Day, of yore.

However, as to pundits, whether they be of the political stripe bloviating on Cable or those sports types who kept hyping the highly overrated Big 10 and underrating the powerful SEC, they should simply stick to trying to make puns instead of any intelligent thought.

As to a public flogging and out of town rail riding of King Carl Peterson, Fuckin' A.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 9, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Cursing? My goodness ... passive-aggressive rhetoric is everso much more exasperating. I've probably pissed more people off with smug emoticon usage than I ever have with plain Anglo-Saxon verbiage :)

There's also a marked difference between using cusswords as intensifiers for emphasis and various other strategies of personalized invective. In comments sections it probably shakes out pretty evenly, but I haven't seen the sort of crap from left-wing bloggers like the examples posted here from LGF and Protein Wisdom.

When the bloggers start comporting themselves like your typical testosterone-saturated right-wing troll on a liberal blog, then Houston, we have a problem ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 9, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Wow ... I can't believe there's so many Chiefs fans on here (and by "many" I mean four -- Ron, Global Citizen, thethirdpaul, and me).

Most of the ones I've met are decidedly of the unhinged wingnut variety. It's nice to see fellow liberals in the ranks of the chronically disappointed.

Not sure what the blogwhore rules are around here (I'm a bit of the Political Animal n00b), but I posted about them last night. You guys and gal may like it.

Posted by: Unholy Moses on January 9, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I've probably pissed more people off with smug emoticon usage than I ever have with plain Anglo-Saxon verbiage :)

That is for sure.

Joke:

There is DNA.

There is RNA.

And there is Fuck 'N A.

Posted by: Brojo on January 9, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

No, that's the New Jersey Alphabet:

Fuckin' A, fuckin' B, fuckin' C ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 9, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

One side sucks up to power, has been unerringly wrong about every major foreign policy issue for the past seven years, refuses to acknowledge same, and lives and breathes in a cocoon of insufferable privilege and self-regard.

The other side says fuck a lot.

Clearly, the American people should know who to trust.

Posted by: Peter Principle on January 10, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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