Dick Cheney gets "F" grade on Fascist exam!

I just realized that in a previous post, I failed to discuss the implications of a much-reported remark by Dick Cheney. Clearly he lost his temper and he shouldn't have sworn at Senator Leahy. Telling people to fuck off or fuck themselves is impolite by any standard.

But is it "fascist"? To answer this question we must determine whether the use of profanity is one of the attributes of fascism.

And as it turns out, Mussolini himself -- il Duce, the father of fascism -- was a leader in the fight against profanity:

Forbidden language is one of the ways we remind children that there are rules to everyday life, and consequences for breaking them. When we forget this principle, or cease to accept it, it is not just our language that begins to fray at the edges.

What do we do about it? Well, we could pass a law against swearing. Mussolini actually did that. He decreed that trains and buses, in addition to running on time, had to carry signs that read "Non bestemmiare per l'onore d'Italia." ("Do not swear for the honor of Italy.") The commuters of Rome reacted to those signs exactly as you would expect: They cursed them.

What Mussolini could not do, I am reasonably sure that American governments of the 1990s cannot do, nor would I wish it. I merely predict that sometime in the coming generation, profanity will return in a meaningful way. It served too many purposes for too many years of American life to disappear on a permanent basis. We need it.

Obviously, for using the "F" word, Dick Cheney can hardly be called fascist.

An "F" in fascism for Dick Cheney!

Which is about the same grade I'd give anyone who believes profanity equals fascism.

The T-shirts designed by Dave Neiwert can't have been serious.

And I'm greatly relieved to know that the anonymous caller who told me to go fuck myself sideways (after I ridiculed Glenn Reynolds) wasn't a fascist.

posted by Eric on 10.26.04 at 02:57 PM


Anybody who thinks that "go fuck yourself" and "I don't care what you think" has anything remotely to do with fascism obviously doesn't know any history. Mussolini's fascism and Hitler's National Socialism were very popular mass movements. Just look at any picture of Hitler and you'll see crowds of people "heiling" him. He cared very much what they thought and rose to power by doing and saying the things that were popular, whether that be "a free education for every child" or "those wealthy Jewish bastards are to blame for the fact that you don't have a job". The people loved to hear that, just as many today in America love to hear that "the rich" or "the Zionists" or "the homosexuals with their evil agenda to corrupt our children" are to blame for their problems.

"I don't care what you think" and "go fuck yourself" may be expressions of an individualist or of an elitist or of a misanthrope or of just somebody in a bad mood. They are not the expressions of the leaders of a totalitarian mass movement.

By the way, I agree with the Vice President, and I admire him all the more for saying it.

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