If the president said it, why can’t I? A look at cussing in the media.

The issue of when certain words can and should be used in the media came back into play this week, after news broke about President Donald Trump and his position on immigration. According to multiple reports, he used the term “shithole” to describe several countries, thus upsetting people from those countries, shocking many politicians who were in the room and sending the media into another “should we or shouldn’t we” debate on language.

To say the past year or so has been a long, strange journey for language wranglers would clearly be an understatement. We had the “Billy Bush Bus Tape” incident, which had people wondering how to explain what Trump said could be “grabbed.” We had the questions about how exactly to refer to the allegations outlined in “the Russia dossier,” especially as they related to the act the hookers were said to have performed. We had the “Scaramucci meltdown” in which he offered a profanity-laced tirade to a reporter. And now we have countries that fail to measure up to the standards of Norway.

(Side Note 1: I actually asked if the term should be one word or a compound modifier. That was my key concern. You would not believe the level of grammar the hivemind went to in discussing this. Yes, your professors and your profession are both weird…)

(Side Note 2: I asked a former student who is now a bigwig with AP if she could give us some thoughts today on this in the wake of the “hole-like nature” attributed to these countries. It turned out, she was going on vacation for her birthday, so I let that go. We both, sadly, agreed this likely wouldn’t be the last time we’d be discussing some word that we’re not allowed to say in print, broadcast or anywhere short of a biker bar, so I could hit her up for some help next time.)

So how do you know if you should or shouldn’t be using the term, an explanation of the term or just some Q-Bert like exclamation? The hivemind dug into this earlier in the year with the Scaramucci thing, so feel free to click here and take a read to see what some of the “best practices” are for dealing with some of the “worst behavior” out there.

Leave a Reply