Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Silliness and Poignancy of E-words

Ah, this week I have very much wished for some way to reanimate Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Abbie Hoffman and Hunter Thompson--grand wordsmiths all. I've found myself alternately giggling and furious about the use of E-words.

Huh? What's an E-word, ya ask? Oh, it's a new one I made up. It's euphemism, the E-word.

When Lenny and George talked about the Seven Filthy words decades ago, their point was that it was just plain silly that some words can never be said out loud in public. Perhaps I should have said, SHOULD never be said in public. (BTW, the entire Carlin FCC transcript can be found here.)

So now we all go around saying silly things like "Oh he said the F-word" as though we don't know WHAT on earth that word actually is. "Never ever call a woman the C-word!" I might agree, I might not, but the fact is that I KNOW what the word is and in my head the minute they say "the C-word" the ACTUAL word is there unedited by the alphabet euphemism.

I do have issues with some words for sure. The N-word, for instance, still makes my skin crawl. I watched about 20 minutes of Katt Williams' comedy set the other night on Comedy Central late at night, and his use of that word, although he is black and the majority of the audience was also black, made me cringe. He must have repeated it at least 8 times in one sentence, and it made me angry. I kept hearing Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit," seeing old black and white footage of dogs and firehoses-- the images of my childhood news comprehension and my ten year old self looking in horror wondering why this was happening. I saw photos of black bodies hanging from trees knowing that the N-word was probably the last word the hanging man had heard. And yeah, we all know the word. We all know white people can't say it, shouldn't say it anywhere public or private if they have any conscience at all, and young black people use it all the time. Bewildering. (And please spare me the "oh you're being oh so PC" comments, K? If anything I'm showing my age, not my political correctness.)

This week a headline screamed: "McCain Campaign uses the S-word." Huh? It took me a while to figure out that it wasn't "Shit, we're losing in the polls." The S-word is Socialism? Oh dear god. I gotta keep up! It was the first time in a long time I didn't know the actual meaning of an E-word. Once I learned what they were referring to I just sat here laughing. And laughing.

Here are some E-words for you to contemplate. Which ones bother you most? Which ones would you never use even in private? And which ones are just silly. (Notice I haven't asked ya which ones you use nearly every day!)

Mother F-word
C-word sucker
F-wording C-word
God damn N-word
Anti-American S-word

Oh for heaven's sake. The REAL E-word in this election has been the B-word. Bush. With the exception of the last debate, George Bush's name has barely been mentioned by his own party candidates no matter what office they're running for. He had to have cringed a little bit at McCain's comment in the third debate.

Even McCain and Palin's "REAL Americans" don't say the B-word often anymore in public.

But the B-word is one that we all know is being used liberally in private on "both sides of the aisle" and it might just be right up there with the F-word right now. Carlin would have had to add it to his riff, and Hunter Thompson would have eaten him alive. (I mean really, think of it, Thompson on the Campaign Trail 2008! He woulda had a field day.) The B-word has now taken its place among the unspoken filthy words in some circles.

I almost, not quite, but almost feel sorry for him.

10:08PM Jon Stewart just did a piece on the S-word. His choice was better than my guess. He thought maybe scalawag or sheep F-word-er. Probably should link to him, but don't want to miss the rest of the show!


Anonymous said...

Black America and the N-word:


E.J. said...

Even though I probably use it at least once a day, I still feel a twinge of Catholic guilt when I say G** Dammit, except for when I'm so angry I add "all to fuckin' hell"!!

Cuz anger overshadows guilt.

Goldenrod said...

Generally speaking, this post made me laugh out loud!

I'm in my 70's and grew up in the far north. One black family in a little town of about 4,000. (Except we didn't use the word 'black' then ... we said 'Negro'. Times have certainly changed.) This family was like any other ... some 'good ones' here, a 'bad apple' there.

NOW, if one says 'Negro' it's somehow not politically correct.

Where the devil did the term 'black' come from, anyway? (Probably the same place 'white' came from. We're not white, they're not black.)

I have no inclination whatsoever to watch a YouTube video and have very little regard for The View, but I can vouchsay, from personal experience as a taxicab driver here in Houston for almost 18 years, that -- when a black uses the word "nigger" (and they DO!), it is meant to be highly derogatory. (When a 'white' uses that term, it's discriminatory and politically incorrect ... very much a double standard here.)

I agree with you that George Carlin would have had a field day with this one! (I did a post on him shortly after he died earlier this year.) While I found some of his monologues to be distasteful, I must admit that he had an undeniably wonderful grasp of the English (as uttered here in America) language.

Hunter Thompson? No. Tried to read some of his stuff. So ****** far left, most of the time, that it was skewing off into the outer stratosphere!

And Katt Williams? Depends very much on shock value in his attempts to promote and even foment further dissension, not unlike the media today (imoo)!

Am enjoying your posts, BTW. Caught your act off of one of your comments on Polimom's blog.