The Politics of Profanity


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When I started in talk radio there were simple rules. Don’t insult kids or women who call. Since most talk hosts are men, that’s just bad form. Be nice. The other rule was don’t attack the person or name call. Be critical of their opinions.

It’s not “you’re a moron.” It’s a “moronic idea.” It’s not “you’re stupid.” It’s a “stupid idea.” Or in New York lingo, it’s not “you’re a f’in’ douche bag.” It’s…well…it’s “you’re a f’in’ douche bag.” Some things you can’t change.

A Facebook friend recently posted his thoughts about what was going on between actor Robert De Niro and President Donald Trump after the recent Tony Awards.

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He tries to make it real easy to understand. It’s a “Village” guy verses a “Queens” guy, two New York guys busting on each other. The only problem is that’s not how it works anywhere, even in the five boroughs.

Here are some recent lapses in civility.


First came Michelle Wolf. Who? She was the comedian at this year’s White House Correspondence Dinner that no one cares about except those in the Washington, D.C. media and political echo chamber. Each year some sort of staged outrage comes from it. She started off her almost 20 minute set by saying, “I’m not here to get anything accomplished.” But, she had a new weekly TV show starting on Netflix, so I’m thinking she did. She needed to get publicity. There’s a HUGE billboard advertising her new show right now in Times Square. She banged on the president, others, and then, rather uncomfortably, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders as she sat just to her left. Wolf called her a white, female Uncle Tom. Not good.



Next there was Roseanne Barr who claims she didn’t know the dangers of Ambien when combined with a smartphone. Calling a woman an ape is never a good thing. And honestly why? Few know who Valerie Jarrett is or what she did and does for a living? I guess Roseanne missed the part about Barack Obama not being president for the last year and a half. Remember my “One Drink (and now Ambien) Rule.” No writing or responding to tweets after one drink (or an Ambien pill). Nothing good will come of it.


Then came Samantha Bee, who must have thought losing her low rated cable show wasn’t a risk even after the American Broadcasting Company canceled Roseanne, TV’s most watched show after that “ape tweet.” Bee thought it was appropriate to call Ivanka Trump a “feckless c***” just days after Roseanne got the pink slip. You want an ad hominem attack? That’s the definition of an ad hominem attack. Here’s what I don’t get. Someone wrote that line. The script went through editing and rewrites. The producers, directors, the lighting people, hell the people catering the show, all heard that line in rehearsals. Then the show is taped at the CBS television studios in New York at 5:45pm on Wednesdays in front of an audience and dozens of production staffers. It’s then edited for broadcast. Then it’s sent to TBS for broadcast at 10:30pm that night. You mean to tell me no one, at any time said, “Uh. You know. That ‘feckless’ comment? Way over the line.” Talk about a lack of decorum and basic common sense. Of course, social media immediately started talking up Samantha and I’m guessing that was the goal. The viewership in her show’s timeslot is way down year over year. No publicity is bad publicity as they say.


Finally, Robert De Niro. He took the Radio City Music Hall stage and said, “F*** Trump” at the recent Tony Awards. So much for eloquence. Look, it doesn’t take much to get up in front of a friendly audience and say something like this. It’s like giving a live microphone to a high school class clown to address an assembly of his fellow students. “F*** the principal.” And the students cheer. De Niro knew it was an applause line. He also knew the show was being broadcast live internationally. Why lower himself and put the television networks, their stations and the Broadway theater community’s image at risk?

Really stupid idea, Bob. It did nothing to further your political opinion. The comments were simply low class.  And take note, I’m being critical of the idea.

When you can’t debate another person’s opinions and you have no ideas of your own, the name-calling begins.  And blame falls to both political sides.

It’s the politics of profanity.

There’s an old quote from playwright George Bernard Shaw.


“Never wrestle with pigs.  

You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”


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  2 comments for “The Politics of Profanity

  1. June 14, 2018 at 8:52 am

    We’re nowhere near the nadir. Roseanne, Robert DeNiro and Michelle Wolfe all are taking Trump’s lead and being mean for meanness’ sake, and to hell with the consequences. Making a point? Decorum? Are you nuts? It’s all about riling up their respective bases, all the time, no matter what.

    If you think it’s bad now, wait until 2020.

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