Saturday, December 20, 2008

George Washington & the Governor of Illinois

“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.” – George Washington

Much has been made of the expletives used by the governor of Illinois and caught on the surveillance tapes. By George Washington’s definition, Governor Blagojevich is not a person of sense or character. The citizens of Illinois probably agree.

There was a lot of material on the tapes and eventually we will hear all of it. Regarding the segments that were released to the media, much was made of Blagojevich’s profanity. For awhile it appeared that his use of the F-word was more important to reporters than anything else on the tapes. I was surprised by the hubbub. Dropping the F-bomb has become so commonplace.

Why all the attention to one word and its derivatives? Perhaps it was because we the people hope for exemplary performance from our leaders and that includes their use of language. We do not expect our leaders to dissolve into emotional rants laced with expletives.

I have heard many writers in workshops and in interviews state that when expletives are used routinely it demonstrates a lack of skill.

According to George Washington, it demonstrates more than that.