Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

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

05/07/2013 4:41 PM

05/08/2013 9:48 AM

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.  

About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.

 

Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service