So Justin Trudeau has faced some criticism from the Conservative Party of Canada, specifically the Prime Minister, because he dropped an F bomb while in a boxing ring at a charity event last week. Some days later when asked about it on a popular talk show he replied with “Um… [exaggerated sigh], shit, what do I say?”
Of all the stuff I’ve read about it I have yet to hear one person mention how an English swear word to a French person doesn’t carry the same weight. Maybe it’s the media trying to avoid fuelling the whole English/French fire that people up here love to stoke. Maybe it’s a non-issue. I don’t know, but I’m surprised I haven’t seen it come up.
I worked for a guy who owned the company and spent a week golfing with him in Hawaii a bunch of years back. He was French but spoke English better than a lot of people I know. When he’d swear on the golf course it was almost exclusively in English. Being the owner of the company and all I tried to keep it together every time I flubbed a shot but eventually let loose some choice swear words – in English. It didn’t phase him at all.
However, when I three putted from inside 5 feet to go from birdie to bogey and dropped what I thought was a very well paced “tabarnac!” he got serious in a hurry and admonished me for using such foul language. You see, English swear words were just stupid words with no meaning. Let loose with a “osti de tabarnac de calice” in La Belle Province and you’ll turn a few head for sure.
|Image courtesy photostock at http://freedigitalphotos.net
For me, it’s all about context. Call someone a name, any name, and you’ve made it personal. I’m not saying never do it (some people deserve to be told the truth) but if you do be well aware that it comes with certain consequences (good ole Justin called someone a “piece of shit” in the House of Commons back in 2011. However true a statement it was, it was probably offside for Justin to mention it in that forum).
In my opinion, using a swear in a different manner and with a different context, like how our future Prime Minister did more recently – twice, should’t even garner so much as a raised eyebrow. If it draws attention to the fact that he’s more in touch with the average Canadian and then gets people to run out and vote for him in the next election then I supposed that’s just a bonus.
When Jean Cretien was Prime Minister he swore in front of the Queen! (in French – “merde” – which translates to “shit”). When Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, was Prime Minister he caused a ruckus by mouthing some choice words in the House of Commons. Later he translated what he said to “fuddle duddle” and accused the opposition of “crying to mama”. To him, it was no big deal. I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far, whether it’s from the family tree or from the political party.
I’ll tell you one thing, given the choice between honest statements that contain swearing and perfectly scripted lies that are free of expletives, I know which one I’m fucking voting for.