Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Rubio’s outrage over four-letter word is misplaced

It doesn’t take much to get indignant these days. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s dainty sensibilities were riled recently because Selene San Felice dropped a four-letter word not once but twice on national television.

Rubio denounced San Felice’s outburst by tweeting: "Sign of our times … the F word is now routinely used in news stories, tweets, etc. It’s not even F*** anymore. Who made that decision???"

San Felice made that decision, putting her University of Tampa journalism degree to good use.

While the reporter’s remarks were ahem, indelicate, they occurred while she was being interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and detailing last week’s murder of five of her colleagues at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis.

San Felice’s comments came as she told Cooper she was going to need more than the obligatory "thoughts and prayers" piffle offered up by tone-deaf politicians like Rubio who are beholden to the National Rifle Association. Rubio’s self-righteous case of the vapors was a thing of hypocritical beauty. After all, during a 2016 Republican presidential primary event he engaged in a juvenile back and forth with Donald Trump over the relative size of the candidates’ genitalia. Now there was a Lincoln/Douglas debate moment for you.

Five people were murdered by a deranged gunman harboring a grudge against the Capital Gazette, and all Rubio could get worked up over was a survivor of the mayhem in a moment of emotional distress channeling her inner David Mamet?

Welcome to a parallel universe of misplaced umbrage.

A narcissist now sits in the White House, his tiny fingers wafting over his Twitter account belittling prisoners of war, Gold Star families and the nation’s more steadfast allies. In his world, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin are pals while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is consigned to hell.

Let us also not forget "Access Hollywood."

Trump’s administration has detained thousands of children ripped from the arms of parents who have entered the United States illegally. To him, the U.S. Constitution is more of an irritant than Stormy Daniels.

And yet Trump’s supporters are more incensed that his press secretary, who has defended an administration built on a facade of falsehoods, was refused service in a restaurant.

We have entered the politics of Lewis Carroll. With apologies: Beware the Jabberwock, my son. The tweets that bite, the insults that catch. And the big shiny nuclear button, that flickers, too.

Feckless cowards hiding behind their keyboards have made death threats against the Capital Gazette and celebrated the murder of the newspaper’s employees. No word yet from Rubio on whether he is offended. Perhaps the trolls threatening the paper had the decency not to engage in any off-color language.

A president can’t walk back his accusation that American journalists are "enemies of the people" as if the First Amendment was a socialist plot by the Founding Fathers. There must be a way to restore at least a scintilla of rationality to our civic discourse. And since it is obviously not going to come from Washington, perhaps it could begin here in Florida. You’re right. Dream on.

It could start with Gov. Rick Scott, by admitting that while he might disagree with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the incumbent isn’t a used Ford Pinto. Too challenging?

It could begin with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum admitting while former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham cast some conservative votes, this hardly rises to the level of bloomer-wadding betrayal that disqualifies her as they battle for the Democratic nomination for governor.

It could begin with U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, acknowledging merely because Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was less of a Trump bootlicker, he is no less a conservative.

Can we save the moral outrages for the big stuff? Not a four-letter word by the grief-stricken, or who is a bigger partisan toady?

Perhaps five dead newspaper employees and all the other victims of gun violence ought to be the black-draped gold standard for what is worthy of (that word) offense taken.

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