In Defense of Fucking the South (And the Red States Too, For That Matter)

“In swearing, as a means of expressing anger, potentially noxious energy is converted into a form that renders it comparatively innocuous. By affording the means of working off the surplus energy of the emotion induced by frustration, the tension between the emotion and the object of it is decreased and the final dissolution of the tension is expressed in a feeling of relief, which in its place is a sign of the return to a state of equilibrium.” — Ashley Montagu The Anatomy of Swearing

The new political correctness has arrived, and it cuts across a much broader swath than Berkeley. It all started with an election, unearthing a long fragmented nation of reds and blues, followed by purples that tried to underplay the division. Some folks, understandably, didn’t buy into this. Before too long, people were fucking the south, letting their frustrations simmer over the linguistic saucepan.

It was all good fun. Because how many of us either thought or expressed these words just after the election? We were able to view the rant, recognize the angry voice, and move on. Because for many of us, the election was really tantamount to crying “Shit!” when stubbing a toe, or “Fuck you, you fucking fuck” to an inanimate object that either failed to function or caused a lasting bruise. An immediate expression of relief (considered strangely profane in some circles), followed by relative equanamity and a determination to get through the day.

Unfortunately, where the reasonable person can comprehend how frustration funnels into curses and profanity (after all, they are just words), the oversensitive idealist can’t. The oversensitive idealist (represented these days by Neal Pollack, whose latest persona is a strangely sanctimonious theologist of expression) views a world where one must say “love the south” instead of “fuck the south,” never considering that in expressing a momentary curse, one might be, as the great Ashley Montagu suggests, converting short-term negative energy into a greater goal of long-term peace and cohabitation. In this sense, the Pollack view is very much like the JesusLand caricature: a place where human expression is unrealistically hindered, where anger isn’t allowed, and where the very idea of allowing one’s fleeting negative emotions to suffuse, whether in conversational or Web form, is verboeten.

As far as I can tell, nobody is painting black Xs on doors. Vigilantes aren’t heading to a red or a blue state to string up a few dissenters. While there are certainly a lot of silly stereotypes being promulgated on both sides, the silent ban on expression is perhaps even more damaging. Because how can anyone on either side “reach out” when they can’t purge themselves of their negative feelings?

If fucking the south, or fucking the red states, or transforming California or Texas a joke (both very easy to do) leads to national healing, then I say let loose. Theodore Roosevelt famously decried politically motivated journalists as “muckrakers” in 1906, but the term developed beyond its pejorative meaning to classify and understand a specific pursuit still quite active today. Sometimes disparagement helps people come to terms with a concept and create the very unity desired.

It wouldn’t be human to do otherwise.

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