Let’s talk about the “r” word. Wait, maybe we should include
the “n” word and the “f” word for that matter. I agree that it was really
stupid (that would be the “s” word; well, the other “s” word . . . ) for White House Chief of Staff Rahm
Emanuel to call anyone’s idea “retarded” (and I believe the news reports
actually had him saying “f’g retarded . . .” ) and had he known what a
firestorm his gaffe would cause I’m thinking he would’ve fallen back on the “s”
here’s the thing: we who are in the business of watching our words as well as
what our clients utter ought to know that certain phrases are going to get us
in trouble. Most of us don’t mean any harm, any big offense toward certain
groups when we use inappropriate language. However, our good intentions are
rarely enough to put out the fires that language may ignite.
problem, too, is that those (with the help of Sarah Palin) who were so very,
very offended want their bad feelings to go away. Who doesn’t? But demanding
Emanuel’s resignation? A waste of time, folks. The lesson here, at least for
publicity folks, is to always remember that you are your own steward of what
comes out of your mouth. If that means practicing NOT saying certain words,
even in the privacy of a closed-door meeting (at home or at work), then so be
think Palin went too far when she compared Emanuel’s insensitive remark to
someone using the “n” word. As soon as she did that it became political, but
then what else is new?
point here is to never take for granted your client’s (or your own) tendency to
fall back on language that’s been known to offend. Regardless of your
intentions you can never control how someone interprets what you say.
be on the safe side of controversial whenever possible.