Why is the road to the White House suddenly so salty? A look at why the candidates are swearing

Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks at a campaign event, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke speaks at a campaign event, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) | AP

SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump and Democratic contender Beto O’Rourke have little in common in terms of policy. But the thing they have in common — the propensity for using profanities in public — may cost both of them support, particularly among families with young children.

As Politico reported Monday, some of the president’s supporters are recoiling from the president’s use of a common profanity prefaced with the word “God” at a recent rally in North Carolina.

And O’Rourke, the upstart Texas challenger whose ascendancy to the national stage has been peppered with expletives, has had to apologize for using vulgar language in front of his children.

But Trump and O’Rourke are not alone; other candidates are tossing out expletives as if their mothers had never once brandished a bar of soap, leaving Americans who prefer more dignified language to wonder why the road to the White House has to be so salty.

Cussing isn’t new, even among politicians. George Washington once cursed so violently that “the leaves shook” on a tree, historian Ron Chernow wrote in “Washington: A Life.” Richard Nixon and Lyndon B. Johnson are among more recent presidents who would have been welcome on a galleon of sailors.

But what’s new and troubling about the profanity used by political leaders today is that the cursing appears calculated, not spontaneous.

“The profanities deployed by the candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination suggest performance. They suggest strategy at work,” Megan Garber wrote in The Atlantic.

If so, the swearing is not just a commentary on the candidates themselves, but also on the culture.

Cursing connotes a certain brashness, a departure from convention; it is, in many ways, a verbal tattoo. But it’s also crude and disrespectful. It intends shock; it welcomes offense. And even as profanity becomes more commonplace, to include prime-time presidential debates, many Americans still object to its use and teach their children that they should never use such language.

Since “Avengers: Endgame” director Joe Russo was recently censored for his language, why doesn’t America demand the same from its political candidates?

Salt of the earth

The use of profanity has recently been endorsed by some researchers who say using curse words can alleviate stress. In her 2018 book “Swearing is Good for You,” Emma Byrne cited the work of a behavioral psychologist in the UK who found that people could hold their hands in icy water longer when they were asked to curse than if he they instead said a neutral word. Other researchers have said that swearing releases adrenaline, sharpens memory and make us feel better about the very thing we are swearing about.

To be cathartic, however, a curse word has to have an element of taboo, Byrne wrote last year in Time magazine. “This isn’t just a value judgment; experiments prove that minced oaths …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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