Friday, June 15, 2007


Are You Sure It's not Political?

Fresh Air's normally quite perceptive linguist missed a beat last night. He pointed out that our current use of expletives has less to do with the sexual revolution and 'Hollywood cultural elitists', which the culture warriors on the right blame (I'll forgive him for not pointing out the anti-Semitism of the cultural right, here), and more to do with the absorption of the working class language of 100 years ago by soldiers in the world wars. He then contrasted this very real history with the version given by the cultural right, the latter he claimed was the one with political implications. But while Marxism may be out of fashion and anyway I'm no Marxist, his explanation (which seems reasonable to me -- and he's the expert) certainly has political implications of its own, which implications might be what, underneath the rhetoric, is really what rankles the right.

The implication is that in its egalitarianism, coarse language represents exactly the kind of tie between the middle, working and lower classes that the right has tired to sever with its divide and conquer approach to class warfare (of which they accuse us of waging?). It's high time we all stop ignoring class as an issue in American culture. The cultural right is able to perhaps deceive even themselves about their true, class-related goals, but class is even more of an issue here than "culture", nu? It's high time the cultural right is called on their classism. Of course, in order for that to happen the cultural left needs to realize they've not exactly been angels in this whole effort to cover up class issues ...

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