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If it seems that the way we speak is becoming less elegant â€“ not to mention less educated â€“ then it might simply reflect the consistent coarsening of society instead of a sign of demons possessing the president of the United States.
Iâ€™m not sure who or what is to blame for the crassness but I know it didnâ€™t start with Donald Trump. The man is a product of his times â€“ an unfortunate victim, if you will. Heâ€™s but the most current example of the unvarnished vernacular thatâ€™s in vogue. We do not live in a time for delicate ears.
By now, if you havenâ€™t heard the word â€œshitholeâ€ more times in the past few days than in the previous however many years of your life, then you most likely arenâ€™t paying attention to the goings on south of the border or arenâ€™t a consumer of news â€“ real, fake or somewhere in between.
In a 24-hour period last week, CNN aired the word 195 times.
Canadians certainly have no cause to turn into a facsimile of a swooning, Victorian aunt when assaulted with the language of the American president â€“ our very own prime minister is no stranger to a salty tongue. Back in 2011, lâ€™enfant Trudeau had to apologize in the House of Commons for calling then-environment minister Peter Kent â€œa piece of shitâ€ during question period.
May I have the smelling salts, please?
Perhaps Justin Trudeau was taking a page from his fatherâ€™s book of parliamentary procedure. Way back in 1971, during another question period, our then-prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, was alleged to mouth the words â€œf–k offâ€ to members of the opposition. When pressed later, Trudeau would only playfully admit to having said â€œfuddle duddle.â€
Trudeau le pÃ¨re was so accomplished an orator he didnâ€™t even need actual words to convey his thoughts and feelings. He famously gave what became known as the â€œSalmon Arm Saluteâ€ â€“ a raised middle finger â€“ to B.C. protesters from the window of his rail car while traveling through Western Canada in 1982. Needless to say, that gesture takes the place of words with which we are all familiar â€“ so what it lacks in refinement it makes up for in brevity and efficiency.
Should we really be surprised â€“ let alone shocked â€“ when our political leaders bring the language of the streets into the corridors of power?
Of course, in the case of Trumpâ€™s remarks â€“ which, by the way, are only alleged and not actually recorded â€“ thereâ€™s the difference that his use of coarse language has resulted in the inevitable charge of racism. Thereâ€™s not much point in debating or dissecting that charge since itâ€™s now well established that most of us are racists and that racism drips and oozes from every white pore no matter what objections anyone raises to that blanket charge.
In a controversial editorial printed in both the Toledo Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week, the question was posed:
â€œIf the president had used the world â€œhellholeâ€ instead, would that have been racist?
â€œIf he had used the word â€œfailed states,â€ would that have been racist?â€
I think the editorial should have gone into full progressive and politically correct mode and asked if it would have been more palatable and empowering to eschew calling certain countries â€œshitholesâ€ and instead referred to them as â€œprosperity-challenged.â€
Say what you will about Trump, heâ€™s certainly managed to take ordinary and sometimes coarse words and give them life in the public discourse.
Whether itâ€™s simple adjectives â€“ huge! great! tremendous! â€“ or the vulgar names for things he likes to grab (meow) or the just plain crass (the aforementioned â€œshitholeâ€), heâ€™s living proof that a junior high school vocabulary is more than enough for success in the modern world.
To anyone who canâ€™t handle the blistering and blunt language of our era, I say fuddle duddle.
Now, if youâ€™ll excuse me, I need to find a bar of soap.
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a Canada-raised, U.S.-based writer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day.
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