Home > Politics and the Economy, Unions > A Case of Shame On Everyone?

A Case of Shame On Everyone?

I tweeted earlier today a video clip of Jimmy Hoffa Jr. It was the very first one that came across my Twitter feed. Here it is: Note – sorry I couldn’t get wordpress to like the embed code. You’ll have to follow the link, but I wanted to use the original clip I posted on Twitter.

http://bigjournalism.com/pjsalvatore/2011/09/05/union-boss-intros-obama-in-detroit-threatens-tea-party-lets-take-these-sons-of-bitches-out/

So apparently FOX News did its usual thing and put as much spin as they could on this clip. They cut off the previous sentence to make it seem more “violent” according to mediamatters.org.

Now I posted the video knowing full well Mr. Hoffa wasn’t intending to tell people to go out and murder or maim any of the GOP politicians, even without the previous sentence. My point in posting it is that on both sides we seem to have forgotten our promise not to use the violent metaphors in regards to politicians. This is not to mean that you aren’t free to use them, but out of respect for Representative Giffords we were going to find other ways to phrase political and election disagreements.

The right wing media has already countered the editing job by pointing out more of Hoffa’s speech and its war metaphors.

So here’s the difficult question – what do we do? It seems that the “battle” metaphor is often appropriate in politics. So can we perhaps just make an effort to tone it down and be mindful of our speech. I think in this case Mr. Hoffa went over the line by saying “take these son of a bitches out.” Use the battle and war metaphors, but when it gets to the point of talking about the actual people, how about being more specific and saying we are going to use our votes and take charge or something similar. Let’s not leave any question in anyone’s mind as to what we mean when we say we are going to “take someone out.”

So shame on FOX News. And shame on Mr. Hoffa. I’d hope they would both apologize. I know neither will.

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  1. September 5, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Well. The more I replay the sound clip in my head, the more that “sonsabitches” seems like the offensive term. And I don’t know. I don’t know how you combat that. There are forces that want to undermine workers in America, that think working Americans have it too easy. They want to strip that from them. Do they deserve to be referred to as “sonsabitches” for doing that? I think they do. Others think that it’s over the line.

    When you think about it, though…plenty of countries have political disputes. Ours is different in that we don’t have civil war every single time the opposite side gets into power. But, yeah, we’re going to bluster. Hell. If we can gleefully watch while people bash each other’s heads in every Sunday during football season, maybe we can allow for the occasionally heated rhetoric of a political rally. Otherwise, we’re just sitting there listening to Bueller’s teacher take attendance. And who needs that?

  2. TJSwift
    October 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    AS you know, Eric, I’m not one to mince words, but I have come to that through the realization that smarmy, specious weasel words are much more harmful to the public debate than coarse, or violent wordplay because it intends to hide intent.

    Hoffa did in fact mean “go and take those SOB’s out” in the political as well the physical sense; the guy was raised around the mob for cryin’ out loud. And that is a bridge too far, even for me.

    But personally, I’d rather have Hoffa exhorting his thugs on to action than listen to some mealy mouthed politician, of any stripe, couch his words in PC pablum and then have to live with the consequences of his successful charade.

    Yes, I know the effect this has on civil society, but until we patent the process for turning out honest public servants I’ll choose straight talk as the lesser of two evils.

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