On Wednesday, at a campaign rally, Beto O’Rourke made headlines by calling a female supporter in the crowd a “motherf*****.” Some in the audience applauded the former U.S. Representative, but political scientists feel he overstepped his bounds.
According to NPR affiliate KUT, a member of the audience laughed as the Democratic gubernatorial candidate spoke in North Texas about the horrific massacre in Uvalde when a shooter killed 19 children and two instructors.
Quick as a flash, O’Rourke turned around, pointed at the heckler, and yelled, “It may be amusing to you, motherf*****, but it’s not funny to me, OK.”
Following O’Rourke’s witty remark, the audience erupted in applause.
O’Rourke’s kneejerk reaction demonstrates his intensity, which is excellent, says Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, but hurling an f-bomb in a room full of elderly visitors and youngsters is bad.
Jillson remarked that while “little cussing can make you seem more honest to your supporters,” there are shades of language that are harmful. One possible outcome is that “[O’Rourke] skated right up to it and beyond it.”
Mark Jones, a professor of political science at Rice University, said, “It helps them, it harms them.”
According to Jones, the damage to his reputation is much greater than the damage done by the shock value of harsh profanity.
Voters of both parties, Jones said, “hold public leaders and individuals making public statements to a higher standard” because of the use of profanity in public settings but not in private.
O’Rourke’s witty comeback was likely well-received because Texans have a long and strong history of embracing individualism, as Jillson explained. Nonetheless, he warned that such rhetoric would become more common if it proved successful in elections.
Jillson argued that using shocking words in public can backfire since it shocks the listener or viewer and the media. Their attention is not on the candidate’s platform but on their bold wording.
Since Jillson put it, “the less of these times you have, the better,” as you want to plan out these moments in a campaign just as you would in life or business.
O’Rourke’s detractors will use this opportunity to try to discredit him. Governor Gregg Abbott, who is running for reelection, will use the catchphrase to court supporters who are offended by his use of such language.
Jillson lamented that politicians were resorting more frequently than ever to “toilet talk” and opponent bashing, making it more difficult for them to accomplish their jobs.
Unlike decades ago, “you hear people being branded fascists, communists, groomers, and pedophiles in ways you didn’t hear,”
he added, adding that people are now more brazen in their attempts to get the attention of audiences. To paraphrase one expert,
“it’s damaging to our politics because it makes it more difficult to conduct politics and find that middle ground on issues.”For more information stay tuned with TheActiveNews.Com.