Our Lips Are Sealed.

Not talking, either.
Not talking, either: Cindy McCain on The Today Show

It’s the question that won’t go away. Since The Huffington Post reported John McCain’s foul outburst back on April 7, and MEDIA ASSASSIN followed up with its own post on April 16th, “Does John McCain Suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?”, more and more folks in the blogosphere are asking: Did John McCain once use an unprintable epithet—the so-called “c-word”—in a tirade against his wife?

It seems like it’s The Question That’s Far Too Hot To Even Touch, from a mainstream media perspective, but their failure to address it has forced the issue through other seams.

For example, consider this NSFW, May 1 Q&A at a town hall meeting in Iowa, where an attendee, Marty Parrish, asks McCain the question directly, absent of euphemism or a censorship beep. That he posed it at an event ostensibly filled with McCain supporters may have something to do with the audience’s shocked reaction. Arguably, however, the word is so explosive that people shut down when it’s said in public, even if the context is ostensibly valid.

Then, in mid-June, despite avoidance from corporate media bureau chiefs, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ran with the question, making snarky humor out of McCain’s alleged indiscretion. (They beep out the troublesome word on the web site link, as it appears they did on cable, though I’m not sure if they did in-studio, during the live taping.)

But, most notoriously, check out the completely NSFW “He Said It First,” in which comedy troupe Public Service Administration both satirizes the media whiteout and attempts to co-opt it in a sketch that spits the utterance over twenty times.

I think the bit is devastatingly hilarious. But as I’m not likely to ever be called this word in contempt, me judging its use is akin to Jerry Seinfeld, in the recent TIME 100, saying that Chris Rock’s humor makes “racism just plain fun.” (Do any Jewish comics make the issues about which Jews are upset “just plain fun”?) Seinfeld should know better.

Oddly though, where I might faintly agree with him is that humor’s roots often drink most deeply from that which a culture represses. Its tragedy, however, draws from the same vein. If McCain continues to ignore the calls for him to say whether he said this or not—and, of course, he will—expect more jokes and more vileness. Especially if he gets elected.



#1 Lena L. West on 08.07.08 at 5:06 pm

If his wife were Black, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. 🙂

#2 sirensongs on 08.31.08 at 5:46 am

Was Seinfeld trying to say that Chris Rock’s humour is “racist”?? (“makes racism just plain fun”)

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