Sunday, September 2, 2012

Am I The Only Prude Left Standing?

I’ve been looking all over the Internet to find one person who was offended at Clint Eastwood’s pornographic remarks at the Republican Convention on Thursday night. I’ve found a couple of sites that quoted those two sections of Eastwood’s speech in which he suggested that the President was urging him to either tell Mitt Romney to commit an (impossible) act of indecency with himself or suggesting the Eastwood himself should do so. But I’ve found no one; not even on the Christianity Today site, who called his remarks obscene and offensive and unworthy of a party that portrays itself as a champion of family values.

First let me say that while I found Eastwood’s performance bizarre, crude, and counter-productive to what the Republicans hoped to accomplish that night, it would only have bemused me, if not for his use of perhaps the most vulgar insult available, as a laugh line. If he had suggested that the President should perform such an act upon himself, it would have been shocking and degrading, but to put those words in the President’s mouth; to suggest that the President is the kind of person who would use such gutter-talk is beyond belief. Well, no longer is it beyond belief, but no one would have believed they would hear it at the Family Values Convention . . . in prime time.

It appears that Mr. Eastwood somehow convinced someone in the Republican hierarchy to let him speak at the convention. One story, reported, is that Mr. Romney invited him to come after Eastwood delivered an endorsement of Romney at another event. Somehow Eastwood got the honor of “opening” for the Candidate in an unscripted, five to eight minute speech, which he stretched to nearly twelve minutes. So, presumably all responsibility for Eastwood’s words lie solidly on his conscience, where they apparently hardly register at all. No blame to the Republicans or Mr. Romney for the excrement left by Eastwood on the convention platform.

It is ironic that they moved the podium forward eight feet after Eastwood’s performance. That was pre-planned, of course, but also fortunate. Otherwise Romney would have had to wear barn boots.

I don’t normally think of myself as particularly prudish. I’ve worked in the real world and heard my share of obscenities and learned to “turn them off” when they seem to be merely “boys being boys.” But in even the most foul situation I’ve been in, the appearance of a “lady” – especially if she happened to be the boss’ wife – resulted in the termination of the expletives and obscenities until she left. Obviously I have not encountered the world of Clint Eastwood. Fool that I am, I assumed the language used in his films was “scripted” and that in his private, “unscripted” speech, he would show as much discretion as an ordinary longshoreman. (Apologies to all longshoremen.)

Apparently not. In a hall filled with the nation’s most righteous, most patriotic, most Christian citizens; in a hall in which a possible future First Lady – the boss’ wife – and her children and grandchildren sat together, Eastwood displayed his ignorance and insensitivity. It was enough to turn one’s stomach.

But did it? Not if the cameras can be believed. Those deacons, and Sunday School teachers, and leaders of family values organizations were on their feet, stomping, waving, shouting, and laughing. Surely they didn’t hear what was being said. No doubt some didn’t. But all of them could read it an hour after the convention was over and, though a few expressed regret at Eastwood’s speech, it was almost universally because it detracted from Mr. Romney’s big moment, not because anything Eastwood said violated their sense of decency. No hint that their sense of values prohibited the maligning of a decent man who happens to be the President of the United States.

I think the last words officially spoken at the convention were those of Mr. Romney. They were, “May God bless you! May god bless the American people, and may God bless the United States of America!”

Oh yes, God. Please do. But first . . . could you wash our mouths with soap?

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