Had Winnipeg MP Pat Martin been a teenager being scolded for obscene language by a strict parent, he may have reverted to some well-known evasive terms in place of more offensive expletives.
For instance, the politician could have expressed his outrage at the Conservative government as follows: “Dang nabbit! This is gosh darn poppycock . . . closure again. And on the bleeping budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate these shenanigans.”
Instead, the NDP MP chose a more direct approach, using his BlackBerry to Tweet his reaction to the government’s move to limit debate in the House of Commons.
His choice of words was, let’s say, less than “Disney.”
“This is a fucking disgrace . . . closure again. And on the Budget! There’s not a democracy in the world that would tolerate this jackboot shit,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
“For gods sake. In these uncertain economic times, don’t you think our parliament should be debating our federal budget? Some due diligence?”
Of course, an opposition party member decrying the government’s actions is nothing out of the ordinary, but the use of profanity is an entirely different story. A story, it would seem, worthy of being covered by every major news outlet in the country.
With the taboo use of swear words as the issue at hand, the challenge is how to report a story about what someone said without actually being able to repeat the language they used.
If it is socially unacceptable to write the words in the first place, then surely it would not be appropriate to put them in to print. Luckily, by censoring the middle letters of the word with a series of well-placed dashes, all is made right again.
The distasteful curse word can be easily replaced and successfully recognized as “f—ing”, “the f-word” or the infamous “F-bomb.”
It is arguable that if an entire word can be omitted except for the first letter and still be understood, it must be in common usage, and one would not have to go as far as Martin’s Twitter account to hear it.
Despite the media hype, Martin remains unapologetic for his use of language on the social networking site. Martin went even further by replying to one Twitter user calling him a “foul mouth socialist” with a blunt “Fuck you.”
Expletives aside, Martin’s comments draw attention to the government’s move to end debate on a bill to implement last spring’s federal budget. The Conservatives have used time allocation to shut down debate prematurely a record seven times this session.
The government used time allocation on the bills, including the omnibus crime bill, to speed their passage through the House of Commons, causing frustration on the Hill, with opposition MPs calling for more debate.
The crime omnibus bill contains elements of nine bills, some of which has yet to be debated, but the government wanted only two short meetings for a clause-by-clause debate. Opposition members called for more debate at a justice committee on Nov.17, launching a filibuster to demand more time.
Liberal MP Irwin Cotler called it a “hijacking of democracy,” and told the committee “if we pass these nine bills in their present form — we will have the exact opposite of what we seek: more crime, less justice and more cost.”
While Martin may be on his own Tweeting profane language, he is certainly not alone in his anger over the government’s recent actions. Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel backed up Martin’s call for more “due diligence” from the government.
“His language was not appropriate and could have been offensive to some. That said, the Conservatives’ actions are not appropriate in a democracy and are offensive to all Canadians,” she said.
Martin has drawn attention to himself in the past for comments he has made as an MP. In 2007, he held a puppet show at a news conference to oppose a bill that allowed asbestos to be used in making children’s toys. Last year, he pledged to lead a movement to improve debate in the House of Commons, giving out buttons that read “opto civilitas,” Latin for “I choose civility.”
Martin’s use of the f-word, s-word or of any other word may be offensive to some and may not be suitable to Twitter, even if it can be heard in most public places any day of the week.
Still, if by two small words he brought this much attention to the Conservative government pushing through bills without sufficient debate, then I say jeepers! — Why the heck not?