Some disturbing linguistic double standards

Recently, my family experienced a disturbing case of linguistic double standards.

My 5-year-old grandson attends elementary school in Pittsburgh, not far from the site of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. His kindergarten class was undergoing an active shooter drill when my grandson noticed another youngster crying, frightened by the specter of an armed madman invading the school. My grandson, a self-confident kid, offered the other child the assurance that if a shooter ever appeared, he would “kick his (butt).”

His teacher overheard this exchange and admonished him for his use of “bad” language. She also felt obligated to notify my daughter of her son’s egregious breach of conduct.

Within days, President Donald Trump used the same word to inspire one of his rallies with the racially loaded image of a white man, Joe Biden, smooching a black man’s, Barack Obama’s “(butt).” For his choice of language, the president received cheers from his red-hatted rally-goers, kudos from certain news outlets, and tacit approval from his evangelical supporters.

Of course I’m biased, but isn’t there something askew in admonishing a child during a drill whose message is that he might someday be the target of a maniac, while applauding an old man — the leader of the free world — for using the same language to deliberately create a lewd, even obscene image for his devotees?

It is interesting that we expect better diction from threatened kindergartners than from the president of the United States.




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