Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Expletive Deleted

A recent post entitled Eric Alterman: What an (expletive deleted) is authored by an otherwise knowledgeable and talented writer that I've frequently linked to in the past. He'll remain nameless here so as not to engender unfortunate associations from search engines. In a word, I am shocked that he requires scatological profanity to make his point. Why?

I associate written profanity with stupid people possessed of small vocabularies. That description definitely does not suit Mr. P. So there is something else going on here--I don't really know what it is. Does Mr. P have some sort of mild mental disorder that causes needless use of profanity, some pale version of Tourette's syndrome? If that were true we could just ignore it--it's a very minor problem. But unfortunately he's not unique.

I think profanity is common on the Left side of the blogosphere. Even some of the best writers in the business (I'm thinking of Violet Socks over at Reclusive Leftist) can't seem to resist the meaningless expletive. And then there's the famous case of Amanda Marcotte--clearly a very talented young woman--who was picked to assist John Edward's presidential campaign. The job offer foundered on her compulsive use of utterly vile language, to the point of being pornographic. And then comments on The Daily Kos, or even Bloggingheads.tv, are absurdly vicious.

This feature seems to distinguish the Left-o-sphere from the Right-o-sphere. Now there's enough snark and stupidity to go around on both sides--the world's not running out of any of that. But profanity is highly concentrated on the Left. Again, I don't really know why. Is it supposed to be shocking? Well--it is. I continue to be shocked that otherwise intelligent people degrade themselves with gutter talk.

I learned my polemical skills from the Socialist Workers Party, and they did me a good turn. I have been reading The Militant for nigh 44 years now (unbelievable!), and never once do I recall them ever using the f-bomb. Or refer to feces. Or call a woman a c**t or a man a d**k. Nor are people they disagree with associated with a piece of toilet paper. The people who run The Militant are civilized people.

I hate to quote Abraham Lincoln on rules for blogging. He certainly had something much more consequential in mind for his second inaugural. But these words pithily express the preconditions for civilized discourse:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right...

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