In defense of bullshit

A commenter to my defense of bullshit on Huffington Post reminds us that when he ran for President in 1992, Sen. Tom Harkin was quoted by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on TV news saying: “George Bush and his fat-cat Republican friends say they are building a Conservative Opportunity Society. I’ve got a one word reply: Bullshit.” That is certainly political speech. But today, it would be censored or fined: NBC, the network, every station airing it, Harkin himself, and Mitchell if she repeated it. Politicians should be free to call bullshit. So should reporters. So should we. And we should be free to hear it. But not under the rule of the FCC, we’re not.

And let’s not forget that Harry S Truman called MacArthur’s old-soldiers-never-die speech “nothing but a damn bunch of bullshit.” Fine his dead ass.

: I just edited the post to run as a story in The Guardian Monday. I think I’ll have some fun and see whether any U.S. papers has the balls to call bullshit on bullshit.

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  • RonP

    not to quibble but should a US Senator say bullshit? I mean I could care less, but doesn’t it cheapen the discussion with the use of cheap bravado? what next? “Step off?” Maybe i can’t take all this hepness.

  • The basic principles at stake here are worth fighting for. Keep up the good work, BuzzMachine!

  • I like the word bullshit (although it’s a bad habit) and I like your bullshit. Please keep up the good defense of all things bullshit. The FCC is bullshit.

  • Y’all don’t remember the Barry Commoner presidential campaign and how he poked a finger in the eye of the FCC on the issue of bullshit?

    here you go. And you can listen to the ad.

  • ‘NBC’s Andrew Mitchell’? Ummmm, Jeff, last I heard Andrea hadn’t undergone a sex change?

    About the word bullshit, you are totally correct, this ceased to be objectionable for public use about the time that ladies started wearing pants to the office. It too accurately describes what cheap politics consists of not to be accepted. Nice if the act, not the word, were under attack by the pretended morals squad.

  • Jeff,

    You are right on with this. FCC: Keep your hands off our language.

    Also, for people who want to use children as an excuse to regulate freedom of speech in the media, my intuition is that children are not going to shatter as a result of hearing language on network TV that they hear every day in the playground and on the street.

  • Ruth: Blush. Fixed. Thanks.

  • You know, I think I’m starting to understand why this is important. I’ve been trying to avoid the obvious liberal-conservative divide, but it’s unavoidable. If you can’t win an argument with logic, if you constantly find yourself on the losing side of any debate, you can save face by shouting down the opposition with obscenities. It makes you feel like you’ve won the debate — you even get to *act* like you’ve won the debate. It’s the Jerry Springer Show method.

    Now consider the Democratic party’s latest turkey, their new “security” agenda — at this point, Democrats have almost nothing left but hysterically yelling obscenities.

    So perhaps this is an attempt to even the playing field — Democrats can no longer win debates in the free marketplace of ideas based on merit, when their debates consist of dimwitted concepts like “our plan is to eliminate Osama bin Laden” (duh) and “Bush lied”. So it’s important that Democrats start “calling bullshit” on Republicans, not just on zany leftist internet forums, but on regular broadcast television. When Rumsfeld lectures reporters, the reporters need to be free to start shouting back “f*** you!” Tim Russert should insist that Ken Mehlman has his head up his ass. Bill Mahr should replace Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, which itself should become a nightly festival designed to offend almost everybody in the nation but a core group of angry, frustrated Democrats.

    The more I think about this, the better it sounds! Internet hate groups have certainly benefitted Republicans so far, by self-characterizing Democrats (fairly or no) as hate-filled, directionless loons; extending the DemocraticUnderground/MoveOn.org-style debate to network TV will amplify that effect a thousand-fold!

    Wow! I take back all my previous objections. At the moment, I’m interested in seeing Republicans win, so Democrats, please, *please* start calling bullshit on TV. Show some spine, for a change, and defy the FCC! Set up a penalty fund at first, if you have to — if you pay to run political commercials, then you can pay to call bullshit. If that’s the message, it’s worth it, right? When you regain power, you can put the FCC directly under Democratic control, then refund yourselves and start fining religious broadcasters for violating separation of church and state (since the airwaves are a public place, like a courthouse — I’m surprised you guys haven’t thought of this one, yet).

    It could even be the new party slogan. Democrats: we call bullshit! It’s sure to capture the vote of every teenager of non-eligible voting age.

  • News Bulletin: The entire world doesn’t want to stick its face in swill–or have its face shoved in it. What an odd cause.

  • Nice, Jeff. That’s all.

  • Eileen

    Dang…er, durn, Carson Fire, you’re brilliant! Yessss…sort of an enhancement of the Mean Dean Screamin’ Fightin’ Machine, eh? Let’s make sure the Dems get F and S (at a minimum) – along with every possible derivation/permutation thereof. [For example, how could they possibly operate effectively without *F~~~in’ BS!*?] I can see Andrea dutifully quoting the next slate of candidates with a real gleam in her eye.

    But why stop there? Let’s encourage them to air – during prime time – every bit of obscenity they can dream up and demonstrate to the rest of us how/what they Really Think, no holds barred! And consider, Kids of Dems would automatically be schooled in liberal debate tactics as well…

    Yes, I too see endless possibilities for us to assist the Party of Potty Mouths! Some liberal causes are ‘definitely’ worth supporting. At long, long last, you’ve finally hit upon a constructive way for conservatives to reach across the great divide. I will be writing to the FCC and my state representatives today if not sooner.

    You’re a genius, Carson Fire. :)

  • I think I’ll have some fun and see whether any U.S. papers has the balls to call bullshit on bullshit.

    The papers will probably pick up this story, given their penchant for screaming “fire” in empty theaters.

  • Debbie Stabenow unveils the new Democratic slogan. Looks like a winner to me! :D

  • Eileen

    Oh my Gawwd, you two. “Screaming fire in empty theatres.” AHAHAHAHAHAHA. Followed by Stabenow. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. The “new slogan”. AHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    My sides ache and I’ve run out of kleenex.

    The road ahead is clear. Someone please tell Rove.

    Cannot typeeee…..

  • Carsonfire, paraphrasing Cheney, suggests: ‘When Rumsfeld lectures reporters, the reporters need to be free to start shouting back “f*** you!” ‘

    Of course, then goes on to make a totally different argument from that Jeff made, and gets applauded by members of his coterie. Ummm, you weren’t up to the issue Jeff raised? No surprises there.

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  • Nice diversion yourself, Ruth, as I already addressed Jeff’s defense of bullshit here: In Defense of Bullshit I, where he actually had a defense for bullshit.

    I didn’t think there was any reason to repeat myself simply because Jeff Jarvis has posted In Defense of Bullshit II, a second “defense” which curiously consists of nothing but presenting a few more foul-mouthed Democrats (Harkin, Truman, and Mitchell) repeating an obscenity that means absolutely nothing in debate except “I’m pissed”, but that some on the left think is a magic word that means “I win”. As I said over there, I am calling bullshit on calling bullshit.

    I did get a direct response from Jeff on my first comment over there, and I appreciate that, as Jeff is a very busy blogger (and I still like him and his blog), but since Ruth insists, I’ll point out again that a follow-up argument of Jeff’s is eminently contradictory: he cited the Janet Jackson situation as a good example of how the market can take care of a problem like this without the intervention of the FCC. However, I do recall that it was the FCC that put the hurt behind the protests, and it wasn’t just the protests themselves the network responded to; and, furthermore, I recall Jeff Jarvis *complaining* about this for some time.

    I also addressed the hypocrisy of others on this issue by complaining that the FCC bans the f-word and the bs-word, but not the n-word. Yet, the core argument of Jeff’s seems to be that bullshit is now an essential word in political speech — and yet, as disgusting and offensive as we find racial epithets, they could more easily be classified as “political speech” than “bullshit” — and so, we see once again that it is not absolute free speech that Jarvis & Co. seek, but a range based on what pleases *them*.

    All this and more is in In Defense of Bullshit I, which is only a few posts back; I don’t mind having my arguments ignored because, again, Jeff Jarvis and others are busy — I don’t have time to answer every single person who “calls me out” on my own blog. But don’t stoop to accusing me of being diversionary simply because Jeff’s tagged on a rather useless addendum concerning Harry Truman’s bullshit.

  • Let’s see, you’re contending that there was no need to make your point because you’d done that in a previous post – but did not refer to any previous posting here. So your ‘But don’t stoop to accusing me of being diversionary simply because Jeff’s tagged on a rather useless addendum concerning Harry Truman’s bullshit. ‘ is gratuitous insult, and I don’t accept it. If it’s a useless addendum, then your response, and your coterie’s praise of your response, is useless as well, by your own standards. Shame on you for stooping to gratuitous verbal abuse.

  • However, if you do want an argument on Harry Truman’s bullshit in particular, who the fuck (when in Rome) remembers Truman bitching about MacArthur’s speech? You’ll find that among the general population, MacArthur and his speech are remembered better and more fondly, even if thanks to a movie and some cartoons. If you canvassed the nation, you’d probably find that MacArthur is remembered (by people who remembers such things) as an important general who said some memorable things, while Truman is remembered as the little pipsqueak president with the potty mouth who dropped the atomic bomb on Japan who said some clever things.

    I mean, I’m not really trying to be insulting — but Truman is not remembered as a great president, except by the most hard-core Democrats. Democrats recognize that cursing and swearing helped diminish Nixon’s stature; but they don’t recognize it in themselves.

    But I forgot; I already conceded, so what’s the argument now, anyway? Go for it! :D

  • Ruth, relax. Life’s too short.

  • BW

    This sounds like a Crips vs. Bloods fight. Whose gang is tougher?!?! Call me crazy, but I figured people outgrew getting upset about “dirty words” right about the time they outgrew the whole “my group is better than your group” thing. Words are words, who fucking cares? I have a lot more important things on my mind than who says what words, and I’m not all that important ;)

  • Kat

    { I just edited the post to run as a story in The Guardian Monday. I think I’ll have some fun and see whether any U.S. papers has the balls to call bullshit on bullshit. } This part makes me laugh…insinuating that the Guardian has balls. I’ve always thought they had wheels….as the biggest jihadi terrorist propaganda machine in the western world.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1743653,00.html

  • If Eileen gets to be a “coterie” all by herself, then I would like to be cabal.

  • Eileen

    Fine by *us*, CaptiousNut. (teehee) Shhhhh, now. Remember, only Rove really knows the ‘entire’ plan..

    rofl (again!)