I really have nothing new to add to the Kanye West incident. I did link yesterday to an interesting cross-post. (Read the comments to the original and cross posts as well.) I think that post relates to this occasional series I am (occasionally) working on, “Some of the People Some of the Time.” I do know that West’s outburst was probably the best thing to happen to Swift’s career in—perhaps—her career thus far, and the best thing to happen to Knowles’ career since…whatever last good thing happened to her career. (Sorry, I do not follow Beyonce so you will have to insert with your own knowledge). And I think I am not alone in saying I never even would have been aware that the award show took place had it not been for the incident, so the producers should be cutting West some checks about now or at least sending him flowers.
No. I am not going to comment on all that. What I do want to comment on is President Obama’s alleged off-the-record characterization of West as a “jackass.”
Now, I first thought, Hmmm, I wonder if he will now have West, Swift and Knowles over the White House for beers (and a lemonade, as I understand the artist who was the brunt of his outburst is not of legal drinking age).
Then I thought How wonderful! I hope this means “jackass” is back!
You see, I have a thing about old-fashioned words of insult. I find them charming and a lot more pleasant than more modern curse words. Jackass rolls off the tongue much nicer than its peer term using the same ending paired with hole. I am all for, in fact, eliminating all curse words that use “private” parts of the body and/or those body parts paired with scatological terms and replacing them with tried and true more traditional slurs and curses.
Another replacement for a-hole I have heard the president use is bonehead. Actually, I think he used the adjective form—boneheaded—and I think he applied the term to himself. Personally I like numskull for the richness of the imagery it evokes.
A certain politician was recently this close to yelling out “BULLS***” at the President. But tomfoolery is much better than bull****—more poetic. (Though, perhaps, not appreciated by people who are named Tom.) Along those lines, poppycock is borderline for, perhaps, obvious reasons; Codswallop is a little unwieldy; But balderdash is sublime.
One of my personal favorites, familiar to people who know me from other on-line forums, is daggon, an Ebonization of dog-gone—As in “What ‘Ye did the other night was a daggon shame, but I really would think the President would have more important issues to comment on.” Daggon, of course, is a replacement for a curse word that uses a deity’s name in vain. I am generally not a church-going person myself, but I tend not to use anyone’s deity within curse words—just covering all of my bases. But I think the British have the best alternative for this word: bloody. I have watched all of the movies in the Harry Potter franchise with my kids all weekend long, just to get the opportunity to repeatedly repeat after Ron “Bloody hell!” Unfortunately, it does not sound right if one says it without using a British accent, so I would not say that it is a particularly useful term for me as an American.
I do not have the time or the inclination to go into a whole other category of curse words: racial slurs. I really do not think there are alternatives for words that call people out of their names by making reference to their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other identities. My preference would be to just be rid of them altogether. I have heard that some people who Twitter and whatnot have started using Kanye West as a replacement term for the n-word—as in when someone (I assume someone Black) does something you do not like, instead of calling that person the n-word, you call them “Kanye West.” I guess this is supposed to be clever or something. But actually it is just the same old racism.
The same ole daggon codswallop.