(Oct. 7) It may be futile to stand athwart cultural degradation yelling, “Stop,” but civilization is worth some apparently quixotic endeavors.

Such is the nature of my strong objections to people at public events across the country chanting or holding up signs saying “F*** Joe Biden .” The trend is horrible.

The assessment has nothing to do with support for Biden or how he is performing as president . Biden is already well on his way to being the worst president in a lifetime. There’s nothing wrong in general with voicing public displeasure about any president’s performance and certainly nothing wrong with doing so against this particular president.

The problem is twofold. First, public vulgarity itself should be seen as unacceptable. Second, the vulgarity particularly directed at the president is a sledgehammer blow to a worthwhile tradition of respect for the constitutional office of the presidency.

The first point is, of course, a continuation of the lament by former U.S. senator and scholar Daniel Patrick Moynihan in a famous 1993 essay that “we have been re-defining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized.” The result, Moynihan observed, is that “we are getting used to a lot of behavior that is not good for us.” Each step of once-forbidden public behavior that becomes “normalized” brings another, worse deviancy into more widespread reach.

Free-flowing discourse in the public square is a good thing, of course. But to keep from devolving into dangerous levels of contempt or even violence, self-policed norms of conduct are essential. The “seven words you can never say on television ” were once verboten for good reason: When even bare-minimum standards are abandoned, chaos ensues.

The common culture once understood that “the F-word” could be all the more useful in select private exclamations, specifically because it was so off-limits in the public square. The culture now has trampled traditionalists on that front, as evinced this week when the smart, mainstream-conservative TV host Megyn Kelly on her streaming broadcast referred to Chinese officials as “these f***ers.”…

George Washington 

The error is in erupting in such catharsis on public airwaves rather than just in private, among friends.

Even if traditionalists have lost that battle, though, surely we should draw the line at the presidency….. [The full column is here.]


Tags: , , , ,