America the Crude? Fourth of July Celebrations Marred With Offensive Speech

220px-Joan_Rivers_2010_-_David_ShankboneBr9Ha6wCMAAXQiUAs many on this blog know, I have long griped about the loss of civility and basic standards of conduct in our society. Whether it is a halftime show or television broadcast or some fan or some athlete acting like a thug, we seem to be quickly abandoning any sense of decorum or decency. When M.I.A. used bad language and flipped the bird during a Superbowl game, many like the New Yorker insisted that she should not apologize and that such standards of decency that are nothing but a remnant of the fifties we haven’t shaken.” I remain unconvinced that our society has now abandoned such standards as historical relics. While I have opposed efforts to criminalize speech, I do believe that as a society we should enforce standards of civility and decency. My concerns were raised this last week again with scurrilous attacks on President Barack Obama and a profane laced Fourth of July celebration in Philadelphia.

First, let me begin by saying that I have never understood why people find Joan Rivers (or her younger version Kathy Griffin) to be funny in the slightest. I actually recoil while watching Rivers like seeing a car crash repeat over and over. However, that lack of talent was matched with a lack of decency last week when she called President Obama “gay” and the First Lady a “tranny.” It is an example of what passed for humor in today’s trash talking culture. I also fail to see why anyone would consider that attack on the First Family to be funny.

Many might say that such insults are just part of the New York culture. However, in Nebraska, families cheered a float in a small-town parade on the Fourth of July that depicted the “Obama Presidential Library” as an outhouse. While the organizers said it was protected political speech, my gripe is with the lack of maturity and respect to create such a float in a Fourth of July parade. I have been a loud critic of President Obama for his attacks on civil liberty and his violation of the Separation of Powers. Yet, I consider it shockingly inappropriate to parade such an insulting display as part of our celebration on the Fourth. He is still the President of the United States and we should be teaching our children some modicum respect even if we disagree with his actions. Moreover, the Fourth is a time when we celebrate our common beliefs and values as a nation. Trashing our President seems fundamentally at odds with the values of that day — values that we should be working hard to instill in our children. When people object to the rapid decline of civility and decency in our society, they need to look at displays like the one in Norfolk, Nebraska and consider the impact on kids. I did not see the display as necessarily racist, but I view it was wildly inappropriate for a Fourth of July parade.

Then there was the profanity laced Fourth of July concert in Philadelphia. While Mayor Michael Nutter said that he did not notice the profanity, many families were shocked by the profanity filled concert that is heavily attended by families and children. Concert broadcaster 6 ABC actually had to entirely cut away from live coverage of Roots frontman Black Thought at the start of the show because of all of the foul language. Then, just as families thought they could relax and take the hands from the ears of the kids, Nicki Minaj appeared in a skimpy outfit and proceeded to repeated as a virtual mantra words like “bitch,” “shit,” and “motherf*****” into every song. Then Ed Sheeran finished with his own f-bomb laced performance.

I just don’t get it. If you cannot sing without profanity, stick to the clubs and concert halls. These performers wanted this gig and were contractually required to keep the performance family friendly. This is after all a public concert for everyone, including families, to celebrate the Fourth of July.

I will admit that I no doubt sound like a prude and an old crank. Perhaps we have come as a society, as advocated by the New Yorker, of treating good manners as a “remnant of the fifties.” However, we are hardly a better society for it.

74 thoughts on “America the Crude? Fourth of July Celebrations Marred With Offensive Speech”

  1. Speech was by Frederick Douglas on July 4th 1852 entitled “What to the Slave is 4th of July”

  2. I heard James Earl Ray read parts of a speech on the 4th of July and was stunned and motivated to find the speech. Here is an excerpt. Change the word American Slave to an American woman, or an American Lesbian or American Gay man or any number of groups these days…….

    “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour…..”

    1. While I am an admirer of Douglass, I know that James Earl Ray did NOT read such a speech. Douglass is wrong about there not being another nation worse than the US in regards to US slavery. While brutal by its very nature for the most part, US slavery was quite mild compared to the rest of the Americas. One only has to remember that only 5% of the Africans shipped to the Americas came to the US and that the importation of slaves after 1808 was banned. That made keeping the existing slaves alive and well very important. In the rest of the Americas, most of the slaves were killed off, and more simply imported until the Brits and the US started anti-slave patrols.

  3. Al Zheimers wrote “Well, some folks did bring those planes down and crashed them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon”

    Yes, Islamists, mostly from Saudi Arabia. Are you completely ignorant of what Islamists have been doing around the world? Was the shoe bomber a neo-con? Was the underwear bomber part of a right-wing plot? How about the Boston Marathon bombers, the London 7/7 bombers, the Madrid train bombers, and the Beslan teacher/children killers?

    Al Zheimers wrote “The event spurred a reaction which gave he Right Wing what it wanted”

    Try researching “cause and effect.” Neo-cons seized the opportunity after it was presented. There have been lots of interviews with neo-cons and they were all consistent.

    Do you simply ignore all facts which contradict your inane and unsupportable opinions?

    pete wrote “i believe the expression is ‘false flag operation’ not ‘red flag operation'”

    I freely admit I am inexperienced with conspiracy theories.

  4. Good comments. I have said before that is evolution exists, de-evolution must exist as well (although de-evolution may be a judgement call, since adaptation is merely the response to external stimuli). People these days show little discipline and quickly abandon civility in favor of anger and violence, or elation and mania. It seems that without the proper challenges, society quickly becomes a race to the bottom. Television channels have had to water down educational content for more broadly-appealing junk. Are there any real comedians who are actually funny who don’t rely on just shock value? I always thought Eddie Murphy had an amazing ability to see humor in many things, but gave that up for the shock value of profanity. Bill Cosby was always a favorite, his intelligent and witty take on all kinds of topics was enlightening and humorous.

    1. slohrss29 – Eddie Murphy’s claim to fame is his skin-tight outfit in ‘Raw’ which is very funny is you like potty humor, literally, not figuratively. Eddie Murphy is a high school drop out who would have done much better if he had a better education. How long can you live off being the class clown? The Wayon Bros are far funnier and use much sharper satire and irony. It is a disgrace to this nation that their show “In Living Color’ was taken off the air.

  5. A bit off topic, but what is gmail playing at? I haven’t received one of the intelligent comments made above, but my in tray has been flooded with spam garbage which you sensibly dumped.

  6. We, America….. is Evolving in reverse… Eventually we will again become the ‘worms’ we were originally….. Right wing conservatives are leading the way, many of them were born as worms………..

  7. Regarding 9/11: Well, some folks did bring those planes down and crashed them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The event spurred a reaction which gave he Right Wing what it wanted: The Patriot Act and other statutes and wars. Look at the parallel event in German history: The Reichstag Fire. Someone did burn the Reichstag (German Parliament bldg.) and it may have been communists although Goerring admitted to cellmates at Nuremburg after the War that he burned it. But the Fire was like the Twin Towers, it sparked The Reichstag Fire Decree. The Holocaust was a result. Take away civil rights in order to go after communists or Saudi pirates with box cutters and things go bad. The 1933 Parallels. Coming to a theatre near you. And don’t yell Fire! in the theatre.

    1. Al – you don’t falsely yell Fire in a Crowded Theatre. BTW, I have read a great deal about the Nazi take-over but never heard the Goering took credit for torching the Reichstag. You have a cite for that?

  8. everyone expresses himself/herself the way they would like to or are capable of, at a given moment in time. The current and the last two occupants of the WH tells you all that you need to to know about the caliber of voters out there, and also some of the bloggers here.

  9. The #1 Paul wrote “conspiracy theorists are always going to be with us and in some cases they are right, there was a conspiracy”

    Clearly, sometimes conspiracies are real; et tu, Brute? But to say 9/11 was a red flag operation (you didn’t) boggles the mind. If ‘W’ had really arranged for four airliners to kill thousands of Americans, the truth would eventually escape. For every William Colby, there is a Daniel Ellsberg willing to air the government’s dirty laundry. The presidency is a boy’s club, but the president in power at the time of the revelation would have no choice but to arrest and try many high government officials for treason, sedition, and mass murder, regardless of the usual government immunity. 9/11 was an example of gross negligence, arrogance, and incompetence, but not murder.

  10. well its like this ladies and gents… according to the protocols of zion everything bad is good and everything good is bad.

    chaos and confusion is what they keep going on a non stop continual basis as the distractions to enslavement according to real history fingers crossed on real history the reason for celebrating the fourth is based on lies just as all the wars and terrorist attacks were and are based on lies.

    all is takes is to ask yourself one question concerning history and off you go.. for me it was the story of rosa parks. and how that black woman managed to not only lived but become a martyr for refusing and ignoring a command from quite a few white people and cops to go to the back of the bus. not only did she ignore them but the cops came and quite nicely walked her over to the jail house and then released her with not a mark on her.. during a time when kids like emmitt till were killed for supposedly whistling at a white woman. when black people were considered uppity when they looked straight at white people…

    THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG IN THAT STORY as is the story of how the fourth came to be a national holiday

  11. Tom Blanton wrote “Michelle Obama can clear up the tranny allegations simply by releasing his/her birth certificate ASAP”

    Whether willfully ignoring vast quantities of historical evidence (e.g. Holocaust denial), disregarding mounds of technical evidence (e.g. 9/11 was a “red flag” operation), or accepting the truly bizarre (e.g. politics are controlled by lizard-people), the U.S. has always been the quintessential home of conspiracy theories. No doubt, we’ve had people who espoused similar opinions throughout our country’s history, but newspaper editors wisely eschewed their publication. But now the Internet allows these people to reach around the world.

    1. saucy – conspiracy theorists are always going to be with us and in some cases they are right, there was a conspiracy. Various governments are founts of disinformation to keep us disinformed when we should be making informed decisions. It was a conspiracy to kill Caesar and Lincoln. I have an open mind on a conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. There is some odd stuff that went on with the killing of Robert Kennedy. And there was a conspiracy to kill Marilyn Monroe (she was too unstable for the Kennedy boys, who were both bonking her).

  12. Being polite is nearly always a worthwhile effort.

    Having said that …. I suggest people react rationally to offensive speech.

    #1 Speech is different than actions. Yelling “fire” in a theatre is speech. Lighting someone on fire is action. Getting in someone’s face and threatening to “kill them” is a combination of action and speech.

    #2 Remove yourself from offensive speech. Turn off the TV. Complain about offensive speech. Do not advocate ( in retaliation ) physical violence ( especially by proxy government ).

    #3 Don’t take speeches personally … even if directed at you. If someone calls me a “White, honky , abolitionist , anarchial fool” ….. I don’t have to take it seriously ….. although the “fool” part is probably correct.

    The First Command …. “Let thy Neighbor Alone”

  13. As long as it’s not “the brown acid” I think Neo is fine. It will be the 45th anniversary of Woodstock in August. I had friends who actually bought tickets and went. They were introduced to acid for the first time. They were beer, wine and a little weed dudes when they went. I had to work. No matter what anyone tells you, Sly stole the show. A black R&B dude stole the ultimate Rock & Roll event.

  14. FYI

    I received some intel that apparently originated from high level pentagon sources yesterday (they certainly don’t speak to me directly) that arrests of high level government officials are soon to take place and the Supreme Court was told the other week, in no uncertain terms, that they would also be arrested if they didn’t start following the constitution. They also mentioned the unanimous decisions recently stemmed from this warning and them mention from the two female justices about retiring. I’m not too sure what decisions they were referring to. Interesting times.

  15. Tom Blanton, LOL! But, I also want a cheek swab and DNA testing like was done on those East German shot putters.

  16. Bettykath – I agree with you.

    And I second with this gem from Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”

  17. I regret that civility in political discourse has been lost for a long, long time. The outhouse gag reminds me of the liberal joke of the 1970’s about the arsonist who burned down Spiro Agnew’s library destroying both books, one of which the Vice-President had not yet finished coloring. Then, of course, there was the highly offensive “Nixon’s the One” poster featuring a pregnant African-American woman, prominently displayed in many college dorm rooms. I suspect that the poster was developed by some white guy who I am certain was absolutely clueless about the scope of his offensiveness.

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