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David Ortiz and the Coarsening of American Rhetoric

So Scott Johnson, among others, praised David Ortiz for a rallying cry at the Boston Red Sox game over the weekend that included the dreaded f-word, the Queen Mother of all curse words.

Contrast this to the near universal praise of Amanda Margaret Thatcher at her grandmother’s state fune…

  1. EJHill

    I am apt to cut Ortiz some slack. He represents the opposite of the bombers. He is a naturalized US citizen who loves his adopted country. That and the fact that he learned English from a bunch of baseball players…

  2. Augustine
    EJHill: I am apt to cut Ortiz some slack. He represents the opposite of the bombers. He is a naturalized US citizen who loves his adopted country. That and the fact that he learned English from a bunch of baseball players… · 1 hour ago

    I happen to be watching the Twins and White Sox right now.  They just finished the 7th Inning Stretch where a nice young lady sang “God Bless America.”  That was written by Irving Berlin, an immigrant who learned his English on the streets of New York.  Yet he was able to praise his adopted country without being a vulgarian.  I guess the upshot here is that you can be a crude vulgarian if you are crude vulgarian in a good cause 

  3. Indaba

    The sweet-voiced singer, Adele, also litters her speeches with f words and I almost felt slapped by her lack of manners. It amazes me that there are some forbidden words for the public domain – like Chris Matthews and his dog whistles – but speaking like a garbage man fresh out of jail, who has not been in the company of nice people for years, is “da bomb”.

    Words are fascinating. They bring baggage depending on your life and your values. My son will say kafir which is just the worst word for me to hear, yet in North America, it does not make people twitch. so this fellow maybe did not realize the impact on people outside of his own circles who probably use it all the time.

    Maggie’s grand-daughter did a great job and Texas should be proud. 

  4. Jimmy Carter
    Indaba:

     so this fellow maybe did not realize the impact on people outside of his own circles who probably use it all the time.  · 52 minutes ago

    I disagree. Speaking for the majority of males, I say when learning another language profanities are the first words learned.

  5. EJHill

    I know of an NBA player from Eastern Europe who learned English through his teammates. He was invited to a teammate’s home for his first American Thanksgiving and after the prayer the first words out of his mouth was, “Pass the f’ing potatoes.”

    After eliciting stares and silence he said, “Pass the f’ing potatoes, please.

    After the laughter subsided it was explained to him why he shouldn’t use that language off the court.

  6. flownover

    Different stroke for different folks ?

    The milieu in Fenway versus the Funeral of Baroness Thatcher ?

    No love lost there anyway. Separate worlds , same blood, same God.

    The choice of the Bible or a curse exposes the deep wounds that have injured our society . Big Papi could cast his net a little wider ,but the hurrahs and whistles probably wouldn’t have been as loud. And Roman Hruska wouldn’t have heard them.

    comeon…is this an inability to assimilate ? manners folks. harrison ford would be smirking 

  7. EThompson
    EJHill: I am apt to cut Ortiz some slack. He represents the opposite of the bombers. He is a naturalized US citizen who loves his adopted country.

    I agree wholeheartedly. He’s upset and sometimes we Yanks (naturalized or not) don’t express our deepest emotions with elegance and grace because we’re just plain mad as hell.

    one more thought: Let’s not confuse the coarsening of actions and values with a simple cry of outrage. Gosh knows I used unspeakable language after 9/11.

  8. Indaba
    Jimmy Carter

    Indaba:

     so this fellow maybe did not realize the impact on people outside of his own circles who probably use it all the time.  · 52 minutes ago

    I disagree. Speaking for the majority of males, I say when learning another language profanities are the first words learned. · 1 hour ago

    That is hilarious – what is with that? 

  9. Chris Campion

    Ortiz lives in a city that was just bombed and its people terrorized for a week.

    I’m not quite sure what event would meet the acceptable criteria for uttering the F-bomb (which, by the way, is not the worst word or group of words someone could use – we might need to get out of the house a little more if we think that’s the most awful word available), but I guarantee that the word was used quite frequently around the city in the past week, amongst mixed company.  No doubt.

    I’m quite happy that Papi said out loud what everyone was no doubt thinking.  Imagine if he’d said that we need to consider the backgrounds and upbringing of the bombers, that perhaps, really, it wasn’t their fault – but ours?  Perhaps, really, it was the marathoners fault for what happened?

  10. Augustine

    Well, this tell us all we need to know about the so-called “conservatives.”  “But his town was bombed.  How could he not swear?”  “But he was upset.”  “But there are foul mouthed basketball players, too, so what are we to expect?”  For goodness sake, is David Ortiz mentally retarded?  Can he not express himself without vulgarity, even under duress?  Many, many have been able to do so.  There is war literature galore which is moving yet vulgarity free.  Pick up a Whitman poem from the Civil War, or David’s lament over Jonathon, or read Wilfred Owen, or Ernst Junger, or, Lincoln, or…well, I could go on.  But apparently those who are supposed to be in favor of conserving a civilization think it too much to ask that those who defend that civilization with public rhetoric be able to formulate words that are vulgarity free.   

  11. EThompson
    Cattle King:  For goodness sake, is David Ortiz mentally retarded? 

    Yikes; you stepped in it now…

    Cattle King

    Can he not express himself without vulgarity, even under duress?  Many, many have been able to do so.  There is war literature galore which is moving yet vulgarity free.  Pick up a Whitman poem from the Civil War, or David’s lament over Jonathon, or read Wilfred Owen, or Ernst Junger, or, Lincoln, or…well, I could go on.

    Why would one compare an athlete’s words to the lofty prose of poets and presidents? Hardly seems fair, although, quite frankly, in these troubled times, I can relate as easily to Ortiz as I can to Lincoln.

  12. Augustine
    EThompson

    Cattle King:  For goodness sake, is David Ortiz mentally retarded? 

    Yikes; you stepped in it now…

    Cattle King

    Can he not express himself without vulgarity, even under duress?  Many, many have been able to do so.  There is war literature galore which is moving yet vulgarity free.  Pick up a Whitman poem from the Civil War, or David’s lament over Jonathon, or read Wilfred Owen, or Ernst Junger, or, Lincoln, or…well, I could go on.

    Why would one compare an athlete’s words to the lofty prose of poets and presidents? Hardly seems fair, although, quite frankly, in these troubled times, I can relate as easily to Ortiz as I can to Lincoln. · 0 minutes ago

    OK, pick up a book of letters from the Civil War.  The average soldier was able to express himself better than David Ortiz.  I think of the public performance of the “Little Rock Nine” in 1957.  Those high school kids under great duress somehow avoiding saying the f-word in public.  It is remarkable the lengths people will go to to defend this man’s ignorance. 

  13. Jeff Hoefle
    Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer. - Mark Twain, a Biography
  14. Johnny Dubya

    As someone who was among the hordes of people crossing the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn on 9/11/01, and who looked back at the smoking rubble of the World Trade Center, muttering under my breath, “****ing Osama bin Laden,” I can understand the way David Ortiz felt.  Yes, I abhor the coarsening of our culture.  Yes, there was a time when a ballplayer would not have spoken this way in public.  (Can anyone imagine Lou Gehrig, if he had lived to see it, speaking of the Pearl Harbor attack in such a way?) 

    However, while I endeavor not to use foul language around the house and try to shield my 10-year-old son from it as much as possible, I did show him the video of Ortiz’s speech.  Papi is my son’s favorite ballplayer, and he wears the player’s “34″ on his soccer jersey.  I thought the video was important for my son to see because of the defiance that it represents.  It is the same defiance that caused huge crowds to turn out for the London marathon. 

    And a state funeral is quite different from a sports stadium after the infuriating deaths of innocents.

  15. EThompson
    Cattle King

    EThompson

    Cattle King:  For goodness sake, is David Ortiz mentally retarded? 

    Yikes; you stepped in it now…

    Cattle King

    Can he not express himself without vulgarity, even under duress?  Many, many have been able to do so.  There is war literature galore which is moving yet vulgarity free.  Pick up a Whitman poem from the Civil War, or David’s lament over Jonathon, or read Wilfred Owen, or Ernst Junger, or, Lincoln, or…well, I could go on.

    Why would one compare an athlete’s words to the lofty prose of poets and presidents? Hardly seems fair, although, quite frankly, in these troubled times, I can relate as easily to Ortiz as I can to Lincoln.

    OK, pick up a book of letters from the Civil War.  The average soldier was able to express himself better than David Ortiz. 

    That is because there was no Maya Angelou or annoying Women’s Studies departments that degradate the work of “dead white men.” Even the ‘common folk’ were forced to read the good stuff in the 19th century.

    Don’t compare apples to oranges.

  16. Amy Schley
    Indaba: The sweet-voiced singer, Adele, also litters her speeches with f words and I almost felt slapped by her lack of manners. 

    Indaba, have you actually listened to any of her songs? While they don’t include vulgarity, nothing in them should suggest that she is a kindly sweet soul.

    Her songs are about spreading rumors to break a couple up so she can move in on the single man, a bad breakup that leaves her angry, a bad breakup that leaves her in tears, and crashing an ex-boyfriend’s wedding to let him know she’s not over him.

    She’s got an awesome set of pipes; it’s just a pity she has nothing pleasant to sing about.

  17. Fricosis Guy

    You’re right that it was vulgar, but I’m far less offended than taking the Lord’s name in vain. 

    I also can’t be as hard on him as you are here. He said a few words to a crowd from the field…which is where he works. Baseball is an infamously uncouth game.

    Besides, I’ll bet Ernst, Wilfred, or those Civil War soldiers used many more colorful metaphors in the trenches than they did in their letters.

  18. RushBabe49

    We now have a culture that creates an entire College Curriculum, including advanced degrees, in the study of Heavy Metal Music.

  19. Mark

    I enjoyed both speeches.  Of course I am a Red Sox fan and Big Papi is the heart of the team.

  20. Bob Laing

    Yeah, but could Whitman, Junger, or Lincon hit a 95 mph fastball?  And when did we decide to task David Ortiz with the defense of our civilization? David Ortiz was drafted by a MLB team, not the US Army.

    Cattle King: There is war literature galore which is moving yet vulgarity free.  Pick up a Whitman poem from the Civil War, or David’s lament over Jonathon, or read Wilfred Owen, or Ernst Junger, or, Lincoln, or…well, I could go on.  But apparently those who are supposed to be in favor of conserving a civilization think it too much to ask that those who defend that civilization with public rhetoric be able to formulate words that are vulgarity free.    · 18 hours ago

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