Wormy heartland, F-word amorality
July 4, 2004 9:19 AM   Subscribe

In heartland, Cheney touts "conservative values" and therapeutic use of "F-word" After his controversial, widely and inconsistently reported use of the "F-word" - recently declared to be "abhorrent" by FCC head Michael Powell (as uttered by Bono) - Dick Cheney's "no regrets", "felt better after I had done it" justification suggests that the "if it feels good, do it" ethic of the 60's counterculture has now spread to the conservative mainstream. Some see a role reversal, as a confused type of postmodernist, relativistic thinking gnaws into the conservative zeitgeist. Seventy year old Florence Orris, at a Parma, Ohio Cheney/Republican rally, sympathized with Cheney's "F-word" catharsis, and with relativist values : "I'm almost getting to that point with my Democratic friends..." (from main link) "Conservatism, as I understand it, has always had as its end the cultivation of virtue in the individual and the community," writes one conservative who asks - is it reasonable to look towards the state, and to potty mouthed politicians, for the promotion of public values? Laments one observer of the "Culture Wars", "Who is behind the effort to undermine our moral standards and enslave our people?"
posted by troutfishing (36 comments total)
I'm not entirely positive, but I think the "f-word" troutfishing refers to is fuck.
posted by Nelson at 9:25 AM on July 4, 2004

Seems to me like people are making an awfully big deal over one small fucking word.
posted by Foosnark at 9:51 AM on July 4, 2004

"I'm almost getting to that point with my Democratic friends..."

Cheney and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy are best of friends, yeah.
posted by stbalbach at 9:52 AM on July 4, 2004

I can't wait till all the Dems announce that they need to feel better too, and just start regularly greeting him with a hearty "fuck you, too, Dick!"

Yeah right. These are the fucking Democrats.
posted by scody at 9:55 AM on July 4, 2004

"By their fruits shall ye know them."
posted by Space Coyote at 9:57 AM on July 4, 2004

Nelson - See my second link ("controversial"). The Washington Post was the only major media outlet which had the cajones (or the ovaries, as it were) to actually print the word "Fuck".

Anyway, I've been thinking about this theme for a couple of years now, and somebody over at The New Republic has started to chew on the edges of the theme. So, I felt like I'd better be a dog and mark the territory a little :

The hard-right position, that everything - even science - boils down to politics and the corollary - that with sufficiently large PR and advertising budgets any public perception of reality can be constructed - is an approach that in the end dissolves shared notions of objective truths, even many scientific truths, and, more insidiously, promotes quasi-mystical, magical thinking - directly analogous to many "New Age" belief systems - that human belief can shape objective, underlying reality.

Well, maybe it can to a small degree (see the research of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies research Lab - PEAR ). But, can human belief alter basic laws of physics? Can we believe our way to limitless resources and to a limitless capacity of the Earth's biosphere to absorb human inflicted punishment? Can American societal belief alter Global political realities? Or, can politicians believe away increasing US indebtedness?

The power of belief only goes so far, perhaps.

And, what if those who are engineering the construction of public perception of reality start to believe their own propaganda? To start, a priori, with ideology and then proceed to cloth that ideology in a garment of cobbled-together "facts" is to subtly assert that all belief systems are valid. But, there's another aspect to this this mindset and approach - it implies that there are no consequences that ensue as individuals and their larger culture become decoupled from faith in "facts" - as expressed the laws of Physics - or in shared, Global understandings.

To ask it differently - is America mutating, unwittingly, into a nation of heavily armed cargo cultists?
posted by troutfishing at 9:59 AM on July 4, 2004

My observation is that much of the right-voting population is hopelessly naive if they expect that men in power don't regularly invoke profanity, with a few principled exceptions. Especially men who have come from the "business world."

But I don't think that this is probably really surprising to the afforementioned right-voting population. After all, this is the Toby Keith party, and we wouldn't want any hemming and hawing about the subject of what to do with his boot.

My guess is that the portion of the right that is actually principled about profanity (and in general, genteel discourse) is a minority.
posted by namespan at 9:59 AM on July 4, 2004

stbalbach - That was seventy year old Florence Orris, speaking about her feelings towards her friends.
posted by troutfishing at 10:01 AM on July 4, 2004

namespan - does it help to wear a bow-tie?
posted by troutfishing at 10:02 AM on July 4, 2004

Well then, if so conservative a fellow as Mr. Cheney, a believer in traditional values, believes the F work is ok to use in public, and if he, a religio0us guy, tells us it makes him feel better when he uses it, then I can only say Fuck you Cheney.
posted by Postroad at 10:06 AM on July 4, 2004

It helps if you are a penguin, trout. Can you imagine Opus busting out the F-bomb?

Actually, speaking of bombs, maybe the inconsistent "rules from the FCC but not for me" strategy is to help preserve the "shock-and-awe" value of certain profanities. If they fade into the common mild pink of damn and hell, how can f--- and s--- be expected to retain their fundamental force?
posted by namespan at 10:06 AM on July 4, 2004

stbalbach - That was seventy year old Florence Orris, speaking about her feelings towards her friends.

How, using your word here, anecdotal. I don't really know what point I'm making though.
posted by Mach3avelli at 10:10 AM on July 4, 2004

trout - I know but it implied that friends talk that way to each other.. that Cheneys remark was among friends, that it was not a serious violent attack on an adversary from an angry lost control hot headed shoot from the hip cowboy one step away from the President. Florence was spinning the situation by comparing how friends talk. These are not friends.
posted by stbalbach at 10:11 AM on July 4, 2004

stbalbach: In the contexts of both quotes there is clear indication that is is very steeped in anger.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:13 AM on July 4, 2004

perhaps deep within the bowels of the pentagon, new well-targeted, hi-tech, light atomic profanities are being prepared to help with the next generation of the war on.... on...
posted by namespan at 10:16 AM on July 4, 2004

fucking-a, what the fuck is the deal with these fucking fundy conservatives? Jesus fucking christ, you'd think the fuckers had invented the fucking languages or something.

^Is how I used to talk. Then I moved a bit south. It is fascinating how the word fuck becomes increasingly "bad" the further south you go. The mid-west , I am told, doesn't like it much either, but I've never spent much time there, so I don't know.
posted by Grod at 10:23 AM on July 4, 2004

Global understandings

we all eat, sleep, FUCK and deficate.
and love and hate.

there seems to be more but that is the short list.
posted by clavdivs at 10:31 AM on July 4, 2004

trout_fishing: Sterling had a nice writeup on Bushite tendencies toward Lysenkoism, based on an earlier "viridian digest" note that pointed to an interesting deconstroction of Bushite views.

So, yeh, this is no role-reversal: It's totally consistent with their behavior all along. Their view is that they ought to get to decide what's real, post-facto and as necessary. We really have no business contributing to the discussion (at least, in Dick the Veep's world, we don't).
posted by lodurr at 10:33 AM on July 4, 2004

... the difference is that the fundies want us to hate ourselves while engaged in each of those activities :)
posted by Space Coyote at 10:33 AM on July 4, 2004

we all eat, sleep, FUCK and deficate and love and hate.

Space: it's much more accurate to say that the "fundies" believe there are certain sets of restraints on those activities which if abided by offer (or indicate) a higher level of spiritual or general health. A lot of people disagree on the particulars and what a good source of determining accurate particulars is, but the underlying principle is something that a lot of people subscribe to, whether or not they live by it.

That's really off topic, of course, given that profanity isn't really all about a word's literal meaning. Connotation is your friend.
posted by weston at 11:01 AM on July 4, 2004

Josh Marshall wrote a nice commentary on this little incident, in which the key line is probably "this wasn't a show of strength but one of desperation or, perhaps, impatient impotence." See also this piece by Joe Klien, which Marshall makes reference to.

I give props to Leahy for handling this with maturity and class. His response was, "I think he was just having a bad day." I generally expect political back and forth to be shrill and dramatic, such as Tom Delay's rejoinder to Ted Kennedy's criticism of the Iraq war.
posted by alphanerd at 11:46 AM on July 4, 2004

Everywhere Cheney goes, he brings a no-fly zone 3,000 feet tall and five nautical miles in radius. George W's is 30 NM in radius and 18,000 feet tall.

If you like to fly small planes, you say "F--k!"

Cheney and Bush are both lingering around Western PA today. Right about now, Cheney will be leaving Pittsburgh on a bus, and his 39 cubic mile zone will creep along the highway as he goes. It's up to you to know where the zone is if you don't want to see an F-16 up close.
posted by tss at 11:47 AM on July 4, 2004

"this wasn't a show of strength but one of desperation or, perhaps, impatient impotence."

i disagree completely. this was a coldly calculated attempt to integrate Cheney into Bush's blue-collar, angry-white-man base. it's a direct response to distract attention to all the difficult questions about his Halliburton connections and energy task force.

is America mutating, unwittingly, into a nation of heavily armed cargo cultists?

it's already there. ask your average man on the street how TV works, where hamburger helper comes from, or how gasoline is created. divine materialism.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:41 PM on July 4, 2004

it's a direct response to distract attention to all the difficult questions about his Halliburton connections and energy task force.

You seriously think some Republican handler said to Cheney, "A lot of people are asking a lot of difficult questions about Halliburton, so we think you should tell Patrick Leahy to go fuck himself on the senate floor. That should keep this issue out of the news."? Every single news article that talks about this mentions why Leahy was singled out. The proper way to divert attention from this issue would have been to make something interesting happen elsewhere on the political landscape. Somewhere far, far away.
posted by alphanerd at 2:36 PM on July 4, 2004

posted by gottabefunky at 3:53 PM on July 4, 2004

I bet a part of my bodily fluids that if Bush will ever utter the word Fuck, Cheney will take responsability saying that he gave him bad example and he's responsible.

Anybody but the leader supreme shall fall.
posted by elpapacito at 6:12 PM on July 4, 2004

As with most of these events, I'm quite sure the majority of "offense" is feigned by the media. We've got the same thing going on in Australia - som people have accused Labor leader Mark Latham of punching someone, back in the '80s. While the media are running story after story on this "shocking" revelation, most people I know have respect for a man who can "stand up for himself".

If people want to attack Dick Cheney, there are plenty other things he's involve in that are much more offensive than saying "Fuck".
posted by Jimbob at 6:31 PM on July 4, 2004

... the context behind the 'fuck' being one of them.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:57 PM on July 4, 2004

who gives a fuck if any motherfucker swears?
posted by Satapher at 12:28 AM on July 5, 2004

To ask it differently - is America mutating, unwittingly, into a nation of heavily armed cargo cultists?

and I blame Abercrombie & Fitch for it

we all eat, sleep, FUCK and deficate.
and love and hate.
there seems to be more

many of us even read MetaFilter between meals/naps/fornications/bowel movements
some of us I also dare to say, probably read MeFi as they eat/nap/fornicate/move their bowels
posted by matteo at 2:23 AM on July 5, 2004

Why do people keep trying to call Cheney "conservative"? He is no more conservative than I am, and I'm a liberal. He's a pig-stinking right-wing radical (on a good day. On a bad day he's just a damn crook). And that is NOT "conservative". He just does his version of the shuck-and-jive to win votes from respectable conservatives.
posted by Goofyy at 6:19 AM on July 5, 2004

Matteo - I have a heap of cargo-cult pants just like those ones you linked to. They're from a relative who has a job selling finest-quality German made firearms. He buys the pants and then grows out of them - laterally - and then gives them to me.

I dredged up this online post of mine, from a discussion on Global Warming, from early '2000 :

"Is it necessary to believe in science to function in modern society? I have a relative who sends his children to a school which teaches that the world was created, by the Christian god, about 6,000 years ago and that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time! These children are even being taught accurate science even, in certain highly restricted areas far from evolutionary theory or paleontology, and so they may achieve good jobs one day as, say, chemists or wastewater treament managers.

At a certain point, as our beliefs about the world decouple from what science teaches, we become reduced to the status of aboriginies gawking at radios or of pacific island cargo cultists dressing up as US GI's to charm down with ritual magic planeloads of goods. We become less than "primitives" who tend to have, at least, pragmatic views, and religious cosmologies far more sophisticated and nuanced than our own. We become delusional."
posted by troutfishing at 11:48 AM on July 5, 2004

some of us I also dare to say, probably read MeFi as they eat/nap/fornicate/move their bowels

Well, there's really nothing better to loosen up a big load...
posted by jonmc at 1:21 PM on July 5, 2004

Except, maybe, exercise - instead of screen time. Not to mention, of course, lots of fresh vegetables and fiber. Some constipation may be constitutional, but a good diet always helps.

I've read Metafilter while eating breakfast. That's it.
posted by troutfishing at 6:39 PM on July 6, 2004

There's a t-shirt.
posted by homunculus at 12:45 AM on July 7, 2004

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