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There are a lot of words that people use to describe me. Some of my recent favorites are: annoying, condescending, moronic, irritating, clueless, and idiotic. I’ve been told that I drive people up the wall, I don’t know what I’m talking about, and my words are enough to try the patience of a saint.

And those are from my friends.

No, not really. Actually, those comments have come in various conversations I’ve had and in ‘fan mail’ that appears on occasion. The list is longer and, unfortunately, much of what I’ve heard and seen is not appropriate for printing in this column.

Watch your mouth, young man!

When it comes to insults and harsh criticism, I’ve got a thick skin. That’s pretty much a requirement if you’re going to share your opinions in public. You have to be prepared for an onslaught of negativity, usually from people you don’t know and likely will never meet in person. As a lifetime member of the ‘Sticks and Stones Club’, I’ve become quite good at ignoring the barbs and put-downs. What’s the point? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so who am I to insist that everybody should agree with me? This planet would be an awfully boring hunk of rock if we all conformed to the exact same ideals and points-of-view.

But while disagreement is expected and even encouraged in society, the act of being disagreeable should not. There are ways to express a difference in opinion and still maintain a sense of politeness and maturity. But that takes more effort than some are willing to give, choosing instead to use a less complex and much more crude style of debate.

Don’t get me wrong

Don’t think for a minute that I’m some angelic soul, one who never resorts to outbursts and fits of rage. On the contrary, there are times when my tongue offers more salt than the Dead Sea. I’ve been known to pour forward a seemingly endless string of cuss words when the need arose. Smacked my finger with a hammer? Check. Spilled coffee on my shirt right before an important meeting? Double check. And you don’t want to know the things I’ve said out loud when the driver in front of me insists on cruising along 10 miles per hour under the limit in a no passing zone.

But I know my limits. While some would say that there are no appropriate times for a torrent of four-letter words, at least I do my best to unleash my extensive vocabulary when the time and place suggests that little or no harm will come to sensitive ears nearby. The same, however, cannot be said for some of the more prominent people in our society. Most especially – and most unfortunately – the ones at the very top.

Role models? Ha!

If you take a look around, you’ll see more than a few bumper stickers, yard signs, banners, and even a flag or two, all proclaiming allegiance to political candidates and causes. Most will be fairly simple, just the candidates’ names or a message that clearly shows membership ties to a party or political organization. For the most part they’re harmless. They are short and to the point, seeking not to offend but to inform (and, maybe, convince).

But this year a new message is proudly displayed, one that should be considered offensive by folks on any side of the political spectrum.

Many supporters of President Trump have taken to unfurling a flag that displays, in bold letters, the phrase, “No More B.S.” Only it doesn’t say “B.S.” Instead, the word itself is right there for all of us to see. And when I say “all of us,” I’m not just talking about you and me, but our children. Imagine trying to explain to a first-grader why the name of the President of the United States appears on a red, white and blue flag right above that word. A word you don’t dare say in front of that child out of fear that the little one will repeat it in school… or church.

It’s not just the flags, of course. President Trump often tosses that word out at his rallies, bringing the slobbering crowd to its feet with cheers and laughter. Rallies that are broadcast live in prime time, again subjecting our children to the harshness. Many of the president’s enablers in Congress are following his lead, peppering their public remarks with the same profanity. Such was the case just a few days ago in South Carolina, when Senator Lindsey Graham goosed his speech with that word. Where? At a televised rally.

Again, let me be clear: I’m no prude. I’m far from perfect and I’m the first to admit it. But I thought we were supposed to believe that the Republican Party is all about family values, that the GOP wants to be seen as the “God and Country” party. I mean, aren’t the evangelicals among us all diehard supporters of the current president? And yet, they stand by and do nothing while this president and his campaigners fill the air with language not suitable for public consumption. I guess those are the people on the Religious Right who like to talk the talk but don’t have it in them to walk the walk.

You might think I’m annoying, condescending, moronic, irritating, clueless, and idiotic. But at least I’m not a hypocrite.

(Originally published in the March 5, 2020 edition of the Morrisons Cove Herald.)

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