Profanity and lies

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According to the NYT’s transcript of last night’s Republican presidential debate, the participants used words connected with accusations of untruth at least 25 times. By my (program’s) count:

6 lie
5 liar
5 lied
5 lies
2 false
1 lying
1 not true
_______
25

(Also 14 instances of wrong…)

And curiously, none of these accusations were directed against representatives of ISIS or Al Qaeda or drug cartels or Russia or China, or even at Democrats — every one of them, unless I missed something, was directed at one of the other Republican candidates on the debate stage, or at a recent Republican administration. The exchange featured here is all too typical.

I’m not going to try to fact-check all of these allegations. But I’d like to point out one interesting case where something apparently untrue went unchallenged.

DICKERSON: Something, in talking to voters that they wish somebody would tell you to cut it out is the profanity. What’s your reaction to that?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you — over the years, I’ve made many speeches. People have asked me, big companies have asked me to make speeches, and friends of mine that run big companies, on success.

And on occasion, in order to sort of uh really highlight something, I’ll use a profanity. Uh one of the profanities that I got uh credited with using, that I didn’t use, was a very bad word, two weeks ago, that I never used.

I said, […pause…] “you.” And everybody said “Oh, he didn’t say anything wrong.” But you bleeped it, so everyone thinks I said the ((word)) — I didn’t say anything. I never said the word.

It is very unfair, that criticism.

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to the episode discussed here and here, where there’s some disagreement about whether he whispered “fuck” or just mouthed it. Either way, it pretty clearly counts as “profanity”. And there are plenty of other f-bomb examples, as well as the case where he repeated an audience member’s use of the word “pussy” to describe Ted Cruz, discussed at length in “Pussy and pusillanimous“, 2/10/2016.

Given his stated belief that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”, it seems, um, pusillanimous for him not to own his f-bombs.

 

 



9 Comments

  1. Christian Weisgerber said,

    February 14, 2016 @ 3:47 pm

    I’m not going to try to fact-check all of these allegations.

    And why would you? It’s political discourse. Either you are a supporter. Then you know what your candidate says is true, and even if it isn’t, that’s okay, because it’s all in the service of a greater good. Or you are an opponent. Then you know that everything the candidate says is a lie, and even if it happens to be true, it’s still malicious and intended to mislead.

  2. Stuart Orford said,

    February 14, 2016 @ 3:52 pm

    It seems he’s trying the newspaper tactic (e.g. here), where writing “f**k” in a quotation somehow doesn’t count as repeating a curse word.

  3. GeorgeW said,

    February 14, 2016 @ 4:45 pm

    I don’t ever recall a campaign with this level of incivility. And, it seems that Trump is the primary culprit. Unfortunately, it seems that the more abusive he gets, the more popular he becomes.

  4. mike said,

    February 14, 2016 @ 6:55 pm

    >it seems, um, pusillanimous for him not to own his f-bombs.

    We see what you did there.

  5. maidhc said,

    February 14, 2016 @ 8:56 pm

    Many years ago, in the days of Pierre Trudeau, he told someone to fuck off in Parliament (under his breath). Immediately the Conservatives started up with “What did you say?” and “Could you repeat that a bit louder, we couldn’t hear you.” Trudeau sort of claimed that what he said was “Fuddle-duddle”. Here’s the story:
    http://peter-sypnowich.com/articles/article339.html
    http://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/1971-trudeaus-fuddle-duddle-incident
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuddle_duddle

    The political cartoonists had a field day, there were songs recorded and T-shirts printed. But it didn’t seem to have much effect on his political fortunes.

  6. GeorgeW said,

    February 15, 2016 @ 8:09 am

    And, there is the famous f-bomb dropped by Vice President Cheney on the floor of the Senate.

  7. John Shutt said,

    February 15, 2016 @ 10:26 am

    That column of word counts adds up to 25 rather than 26. Just saying.

  8. Robert Coren said,

    February 15, 2016 @ 10:38 am

    This reminds me of some thoughts I had years ago, during some rather contentious online exchanges, about the gradual increase in aggressiveness from “that’s incorrect” through “that’s false”, “that’s a lie”, “you’re lying”, to “you’re a liar”. There was one interlocutor who almost exclusively favored the last, which is what made me think about it.

  9. Natalie Solent said,

    February 15, 2016 @ 5:52 pm

    “And curiously, none of these accusations were directed against representatives of ISIS or Al Qaeda or drug cartels or Russia or China, or even at Democrats — every one of them, unless I missed something, was directed at one of the other Republican candidates on the debate stage, or at a recent Republican administration.”

    How is that curious? They are there to debate each other as part of a process of selection that only one of them can win. I appreciate that the American system makes the tradeoff between “I must make my rivals look bad now in order to get the nomination” and “I must not make them look so bad that our party cannot unify later to fight the election” particularly public, but if you want to see supporters of a party *really* seethe with loathing for other members of that party and for past governments of that party, go and look at the Guardian’s comment pages and see what supporters of Jeremy Corbyn say about Tony Blair.

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