Among the national news this week was a shocking report of President Donald Trump tweeting an obscenity.
That’s right. The president of the United States, one of the most powerful people in the world, resorted to an offensive word in a pathetic attempt to express himself.
I know many of you will find this offensive, but I am going to use that exact word here so there is no mistaking what it was. Close your eyes, because here we go:
“…ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016.”
There. It’s over. I apologize. How dare Trump resort to that particular word as a description of the outcome of the 2016 election. It’s a gross and ugly word, given the facts.
Yes, he also tweeted the word, “bullsh--,” which I don’t personally find offensive. I once slipped “bull[sullage]” into a column shortly after the 2016 election. The word made it past my direct editor, a couple of copy editors, and into the final print version. [Editor’s note: But not this time, Kirbs.]
I was just kidding around then, but nobody noticed until a reader asked, “Do they let you use that word?”
Quick answer: No.
The word gets said a lot in the newsroom, but it’s not supposed to show up in the actual newspaper. The same was true of other places I worked — law enforcement, the military, stockrooms, truck driving and my church mission. The word could be uttered, but never included on an official form.
Know what happened this time? The managing editor sent me a squeaky clean and grammatically perfect death threat should it happen again.
While acknowledging that many find a word commonly used by me, my associates and apparently the president offensive or distasteful, there’s no denying its descriptive accuracy.
Hell, I don’t know how any country, state, municipality or other form of government could function without the use of that word. And I’m not talking about “overwhelmingly.”
Language can be tricky. Some people are so high-minded that not only do they find patently obvious obscenities objectionable but also slang or “lazy-speak.”
That’s what a bishop’s wife called it when I was a teenager. She gave a talk in sacrament meeting about the need to avoid lazy-speak, equating it to faux cursing.
Specific words she objected to (and begged forgiveness for repeating) were things like “flip, darn, heck, gosh, drat, shoot," etc. She said these were merely watered-down versions of actual obscenities. Satan encouraged us to use these words as a way of desensitizing us to the actual bad words, which would then become easier to incorporate into our vocabularies.
“Please think about what you are saying when you use a phrase such as ‘gosh darn.’ You are indirectly taking the Lord’s name in vain.”
There were other words she disliked. I can’t remember them because by then I was too busy thinking, “How can someone be this full of [you know what]?
Look, manners are important. Making a public presentation is different than yelling at cows. Giving directions to my grasping grandchildren is different than doing the same thing to pushy panhandlers.
But is anyone surprised that this particular president would say that word? Not me. I’m an ill-mannered wretch, and I’ve already said it about him (and others) a whole flippin’ bunch.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.