Jack Ohman

May 7, 2013

On Bay Bridge, Gov. Jerry Brown plays craps with language

Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

People are always saying that politicians never talk straight, and that they're mealy-mouthed and never say what they actually think. For the most part, they're right.

With the exception of Governor Jerry Brown.

Since I've been here, the governor has used what I would consider to be language that would be mildly excremental, twice. When Brown got into his now-famous tiff with the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, he used the phrase "barely a fart" in describing the impact Perry's campaign had in luring California jobs to Texas.

Let's say Brown's language regarding Texas wasn't regulated very heavily and leave it at that.

Yesterday, Governor Brown noted, correctly in my view, that "sh** happens," or, as we say in journalistic euphemism, "shasteriskasterisk happens," with reference to the cracks and faulty bolts in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, now scheduled to open in mid-August 2213. 

Generally, I like to avoid using the word "shasteriskasterisk" in my cartoons, and, in fact, I make it a point to avoid any phrases stronger than "heckfire," "goldanged," "land o' Goshen," "jiminy christmas," "consarned," and the near-verboten "freakin'."

George Carlin once said that there were seven dirty words that you can't say on television, and they are:

1.Sh** (the word Brown used).

2.****.

3.****.

4.****.

5.**********.

6.************.

7.****.

He neglected to add Number 8.,  "**********************************************," which is really bad as well.

Why Brown is now resorting to this kind of lingo when he usually prefers to use words like "deontological" is beyond me, but I actually think this works to his advantage. Voters are tired of listening to these politician *********** ladle out rhetorical shasteriskasterisk all the time, and as far as I'm concerned, it's refreshing.

One of my colleagues observed today that Brown is deeply rooted in existentialism, and the phrase he uttered has to be existentialism reduced to its bare essence. I mean, who disagrees with Brown on this point? Nobody. In fact, this phrase could applied to myriad state problems and explain all of them succinctly. Tunnel muck? Shasteriskasterisk Happens. Or Muck Happens. CalPERS? Same thing: It happens. 

Pretty soon, we are going to find out if the Kings stay in Sacramento, and whether our fans will be disappointed.

Let's hope Brown doesn't use his new fave word in a phrase regarding our fans if it all goes awry.

It's likely to hit the fans the wrong way.  

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