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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Prissy little whiners

The filthiest comic ever

Disinhibition Nation
When blogs rule, we'll all talk like ----.

Friday, April 21, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Kevin Ray Underwood, the repressed Oklahoma cannibal, kept an Internet "blog" of his compulsions for years before kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old neighbor last week. On his blog, Kevin wrote a lot about Kevin: "The reason for my lackluster social life is a severe case of social anxiety and depression. I'm on medication now, which helps a lot. Well, in ways."


A libertarian would say, quite correctly, that most of this is their problem, so who cares? But there is one more personality trait common to the blogosphere that, like crabgrass, may be spreading to touch and cover everything. It's called disinhibition. Briefly, disinhibition is what the world would look like if everyone behaved like Jerry Lewis or Paris Hilton or we all lived in South Park.

Disinhibited vocabulary is now the normal way people talk on cable TV, such as on "The Sopranos" or in stand-up comedy. On the Web and on the street, more people than not talk like this now. What once was isolated is covering everything. No wonder the major non-cable networks are suing to overturn the FCC's decency rulings; they, too, want the full benefits of normalized disinhibition. Hip-hop, currently our most popular music form, is a well-defined world of disinhibition.

Then there's politics. On the Huffington Post yesterday, there were more than 600 "comments" on Karl Rove and the White House staff shake-up. "Demoted my --- the snake is still in the grass." "He should be demoted to Leavenworth." "Rove is Bush's Brain, and without him, our Decider-in-Chief wouldn't know how to wipe his own ----."

From a primary post on the same subject on the Daily Kos, widely regarded as one of the most influential blogging sites in Democratic politics now: "I don't give a ----. Karl Rove belongs in shackles." "A group of village whores have taken a day off to do laundry."

Intense language like this used to be confined to construction sites and corner bars. Now it is normal discourse on Web sites, the most popular forums for political discussion. Much of this is new. Politics is a social endeavor. The Web is nothing if not "social." But the blogosphere is also the product not of people meeting, but venting alone at a keyboard with all the uninhibited, bat-out-of-hell hyperbole of thinking, suggestion and expression that this new technology seems to release


At the risk of enabling, does the Internet mean that all the rest of us are being made unwitting participants in the personal and political life of, um, crazy people? As populist psychiatry, maybe this is a good thing; the Web allows large numbers of people to contribute to others' therapy. It takes a village.

But researchers note that the isolation of Web life results in many missed social cues. It is similar to the experience of riding an indoor roller coaster, what is known in that industry as a "dark ride." This dark ride could be a very long one.

So I guess he's never read The Naked and the Dead.

While it was the first great American novel, it wasn't noted for it's explorations of anti-semitism, class or the effects of combat on men, based on Norman Mailer's service in the Philippines during WWII. It was noted for the copious use of the word fuck.

When the publisher saw this, he replaced it with the "word" fug", mainly to avoid the book being banned in some states. But mass military service and exposure to combat had left America with very different attitudes towards profanity.

The reality is that there has been a large transference between English spoken in public and the written word. While little Mr. Prissy Pollypants compares Daily Kos to a suspected cannibal he misses the point. Americans use far less vulgarity than oh, the working class English. When Ozzy Osbourne and family were on TV, cursing every other word, Americans were dumbstruck. They couldn't believe people really spoke like that, but they did and do.

The idea that this language was confined to bars and other unsavory places is kinda comical. What it wasn't before blogs was written. But it was and is the way people speak. Wasn't it in All The President's Men when Ben Bradlee, not his movie version Jason Robards, used the phrase ratfucking? The Nixon White House tapes are filled with vulgar language or am I imagining the use of the phrase explitive deleted in Congressional documents. Is the Oval Office a bar?

Mr. Prissy Pollypants wants to denigrate liberal blogs by saying the nasty words are the work of the unhinged? So I wonder what he would have to say about the spate of racism in places like NRO and Red State. What is more vulgar, a few obscentities or mocking the fate of the dead of New Orleans. Calling Coretta Scott King a communist on the day of her funeral.

Let's not be fooled, this is a credibility, not a linguistics argument. If all those liberals are using those bad words, they can't possibly be making any valid points. Even though Ass Clown Media has people defending the internment of Japanese Americans, a far more vulgar statement than the word fuck could ever be, that's part of the accepted discourse, right?

Oh yeah, the picture of Buddy Hackett. People think Richard Pryor was the dirtiest comic ever, he wasn't even close, nor was Lenny Bruce. It was Vegas comics like Buddy Hackett who could "go blue" to a degree which would stun most people, even today.

I once came home at 3 Am with HBO on and Hackett was doing his routine and I was dumbstruck at it's vulgarity. The difference was that they limited where they did their routines. But the idea that such language is a recent invention is comical at best, and in this case being used to discrete legitimate political discussion. Any time you start off a discussion of political blogs with a child murdering cannibal, we're not having an honest discussion.

posted by Steve @ 12:01:00 AM

12:01:00 AM

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