How low can we go?

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE - BY MARYBETH HA­GAN Marybeth Ha­gan is a writer in Me­rion Sta­tion, Pa.

Thanks are in order to An­thony Scara­mucci, the foul­mouthed fi­nancier who was abruptly fired from his job as White House com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor.

While still em­ployed by the White House, Scara­mucci, aka the Mooch, let the ver­bal filth fly, not in pri­vate, but dur­ing an in­ter­view with a re­porter from the New Yorker. It’s a long way from the days of Win­ston Churchill, the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter who was known for his elo­quence. If V was for vic­tory in Churchill’s time, it most de­cid­edly stands for Vul­gar­ity to­day.

Still, I am grate­ful to “the Mooch,” for bring­ing to light how lin­guis­ti­cally low we now go.

Why? Unity. Peo­ple of all po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sions found Scara­mucci’s un­couth re­marks about two of his White House col­leagues ap­palling. That’s good news.

Of course, he’s not the only one who has suc­cumbed to this so­ci­etal re­gres­sion. I won­der if some of the peo­ple who were re­pulsed by Scara­mucci’s com­ments are the same ones who bois­ter­ously sprin­kle their cell­phone and faceto-face con­ver­sa­tions with pro­fan­i­ties in public. Tough luck for passersby should they pre­fer not to lis­ten to tongues so vile. Even the pres­ence of chil­dren doesn’t stop some adults from mouthing ob­scen­i­ties.

Sure, some of us slip and use lan­guage we’d rather not dur­ing emo­tion­ally charged times. But, to­day, lingo once known as “com­mon” — as in of­fen­sive — is com­mon. In too many cir­cles, even the F-bomb seems so­cially ac­cept­able.

The tough guys in our old neigh­bor­hood didn’t talk such trash in front of grown-ups or my girl­friends and me in the 1960s and ’70s. But by the 1980s, one had only to click on a ra­dio and lis­ten to Howard Stern for an ear­ful of ex­ple­tives and other smut.

Five years ago, a pleas­ant wo­man sit­ting next to me at a din­ner party chat­ted about how much she en­joyed lis­ten­ing to Stern’s Sir­ius XM ra­dio show. All I could say was, “Eww!” Ac­cord­ing to one news re­port, first lady Me­la­nia Trump and her step­daugh­ter Ivanka re­acted sim­i­larly when Scara­mucci’s crude re­marks were pub­lished.

An­other re­port noted that the new White House chief of staff, John Kelly — a dec­o­rated, re­tired Ma­rine Corps gen­eral who served three tours in Iraq — wanted Scara­mucci sacked be­cause he lacked dis­ci­pline and had al­ready de­stroyed his cred­i­bil­ity. This from a com­bat vet­eran who is surely fa­mil­iar with salty lan­guage!

In his book “Ci­vil­ity: Man­ners, Morals, and the Eti­quette of Democ­racy,” Stephen L. Carter, a Yale pro­fes­sor of law, wrote: “Nowa­days the tra­di­tion of barbed wit has given way to a wit­less bar­barism, our lazier con­ver­sa­tional habit of reach­ing for the first bit of pro­fan­ity that comes to mind. The re­straint and fore­thought that are nec­es­sary to be clever, even in in­sult, are what a sacri­fi­cial ci­vil­ity de­mands.” How prophetic. Carter’s book was pub­lished nearly 20 years ago.

Just last week, a guy who dropped the F-bomb while talking with a buddy out­side a neigh­bor­hood bar had the cour­tesy to of­fer an apol­ogy as I walked past them. Will Scara­mucci ever show sim­i­lar de­cency? There’s al­ways room for re­demp­tion, but we needn’t wait on peo­ple like him. We can try to re­store ci­vil­ity to our public spa­ces by clean­ing up our own ver­bal acts.

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