This country needs an enema. I paraphrase, of course, from the great Jack Nicholson’s take on Gotham City in his turn at The Joker (for you kids that was way back before the iPhone 5). But when it gets to the point where we ignore the true absurdities our kids are witnessing every day – from the right-wing lunatics, also known as members of Congress, using cable news as televised therapy, to the long-term unemployed in our midst, to the violence that permeates local news broadcasts – while freaking out over a few “naughty” words said out loud on these very programmes, it is rather apt. In fact, it is enough to make one want to drink Liquid Drano, or whatever it is “Tailgunner” Ted Cruz uses to turn his hair into an Indy 500 oil patch.
Twice in recent weeks newscasters have said what my 3-year-old calls “bad words” (where’s George Carlin when you need him?) on television accidentally, and both times they have been fired, because apparently we are all still striving to reach puberty. In the first, and arguably more regretful case, then-newly hired Bismarck, North Dakota KYFR news anchor AJ Clemente might have had the worst first day at work of all time. Not realising his microphone was on (always assume it is!) and he was on air, he put two four letter words together in the first 15 seconds of his new gig that probably will not make his highlight reel.
Except it was worse than oops. For this crime against humanity he was first suspended and then fired, with the station director taking to Facebook to help us all get through the first 2.5 of our five stages of grief by offering: “All we can do is ask for your forgiveness, and I can offer my personal assurance that I will do my best to ensure nothing like this ever happens again under my watch.” Phew, glad we have that straightened out, or I might have to stop watching all the quality coverage of deadly car crashes and muggings just before the weather and sports.
In the second case, Comcast sports reporter Susannah Collins tried to say the word “success” on the air, and it came out “sex”. Either for that audacity of making an on-air error that makes Tea-Party Republicans feel dirty or for some old online videos that were dug up after all the publicity, in which she makes jokes about sports (put your hands over your ears – she mentioned sex!), she was let go by her employer. And then the pestilence abated, the gorgons returned to their lairs and Sarah Palin conjugated verb “to be”.
In fact, much like America’s favourite trashy Alaskans, we have a gaggle of preening adolescents occupying elected positions throughout the Republican party and on Fox News – sorry, that was redundant – and forming groups like the Parents Television Council sitting on the edge of their sofas jacked up and just waiting for Janet Jackson’s next “wardrobe malfunction”. And they are just freaked out man!
I mean, first you want to put your government hands on their Medicare and allow the UN to disarm them. You know, create big government that these patriots would never, ever hypocritically complain about – like aforementioned bowling pin Ted Cruz, who voted against assisting East Coasters after Hurricane Sandy but then begged for federal government help after the blockade of Environmental Protection Agency regulations by people like him inevitably led a factory in Texas to go BOOM – while taking full advantage of themselves, with health care benefits, pensions and pay raises that if anyone else received it would be akin to resurrecting Hugo Chavez with a side of Canadian Bacon.
So, of course, these intellectual pillow pets are not much bothered by a building full of workers turning into a pancake in Bangladesh or our continuing efforts to turn this planet into Mustafar. Nor by child obesity or civil war in Syria or the fact that Jennifer Lopez is still allowed to act in movies. No, what has got them mad as hell and ready not to take it anymore is the fact that our kids might hear a few “bad words”, and then inevitably head straight off to set up a meth lab after grinding up some Tylenol cold and sinus with their Lego Avengers.
So yeah, your kids heard a few bad words on TV. They will survive. In fact, they will probably even forget about it as they move the loaded shotgun off their TV tray to finish off the bucket of extra-crispy KFC while watching a brawl on Teen Mom.
Cliff Schecter is an author, pundit and public relations strategist whose firm Libertas, LLC handles media relations for political, corporate and non-profit clients.
Follow him on Twitter: @CliffSchecter
You can follow the editor on Twitter: @nyktweets