Yet Another “A Nation Of Assholes” Update, On Ice…


I wish that I was as prescient all the time as I was in 2015, when I warned of the cultural rot relating to basic societal civility that would surely come if the United States elected a leader as habitually vulgar and nasty in his rhetoric as Donald Trump. True, I mistakenly predicted that the effects would be concentrated in the young, when in fact Mr. Trump’s lack of restraint and taste was quickly adopted by his political foes as well as entertainers and pundits.

The most recent evidence of my prognostication powers, however, comes from the group I originally signaled were most vulnerable: high school students. During a hockey game last week between the Armstrong River Hawks and the Mars Fighting Planets in Pennsylvania, a number of Armstrong Junior-Senior High School students began chanting “she’s a whore” and “suck our dicks” at the Mars goalie. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League announced last week that Armstrong students would be prohibited from attending games for the remainder of the season, including during the playoffs.

What possessed these students? I grew up in hockey-crazy Greater Boston, and my high school was state hockey power. I never heard chants like that. What changed?

The President of the United States changed, that’s what. Trump is no racist and he wasn’t Hitler, but his disrespect for woman and his verbal misogyny cannot be denied, nor can his vulgar rhetoric, though much of the worst of that was leaked by staffers who betrayed his trust in ways no previous President had to endure. Moreover, the despicable chants at the hockey game come while half the media is rationalizing and excusing a coded “Fuck Joe Biden” chant, and at recent sporting events, not even coded. That chant too flows directly from Trump’s un-Presidential boorishness.

I hate to belabor the point, but it is true and it is underappreciated. The President of the United States must act like a President. This is as important as his other duties and responsibilities. He is a walking flag, a role model, a living icon, and the successor to George Washington and Abe Lincoln, one who must not soil their legacies. If he fails at this, or, as in Trump’s case, ignores it, the damage it does to the nation, his office, his power and his prospects of success are palpable, wide ranging, and lasting.

It amazes me that nobody was able to explain this to Trump. I would have liked to have had a shot at it. Trump equated being President with being a CEO, a terrible mistake. CEO’s really are like dictators: as long as they are successful with the bottom line, it doesn’t matter who knows that they are assholes, and most of them are. Trump seemed to revel in his assholery, and again, that works (until it doesn’t) for heads of companies. It does not work for heads of democracies built on a foundation of ethical values.

I would have told Trump that there wasn’t anything wrong or even unusual about a President being an asshole. I’ve studied Presidents for most of my life: the majority of them were assholes, and knew it. (I’m sure Trump knows he’s an asshole). In this respect, he’s in good company. But unlike Donald Trump, the his predecessors worked hard at not letting the public know it. (His successor is not having much success at this, unfortunately.)

I was pondering, as I thought about this post, how many of our Presidents were not assholes. Not many. Maybe less than five. Almost all of them, however, kept up the illusion that they were admirable human beings that the public could look up to, and even the few that failed, at least tried. Trump never tried.

And the end result is that we now have students thinking it’s funny to chant “suck our dicks” at a young woman playing goalie in a high school hockey game.

23 thoughts on “Yet Another “A Nation Of Assholes” Update, On Ice…

  1. Didn’t start there, rest assured. I’m out of college almost 30 years, and, although in high school we were very limited as to what we could yell by the Christian Brothers, in college I cut loose and so did everyone I knew. ‘XXXX school sucks!” was a perennial. Other favorite chants included “Metamucil, ex-lax, run! run! run!” “Kaopectate, Imodium, block, block, block!” and “Pepto-Bismol, enema, pass, pass, pass!” It was also not unheard of to do a fake “aawwwwww!” if one of the opposing players got hurt, but the only time we got really vulgar was when we played Brown University, making up cheers like “What’s the color of shit? Brown! Brown! Brown!” or “Gimme an S”! (continued through H, I, T), ending with “what’s it spell? Brown!” “Suck our dicks” we probably wouldn’t have done, though, even though it was common to insult the referee (“Hey ref! Hair club for men!”)

    BTW, I wouldn’t worry about soiling the legacies of Washington and Lincoln. According to the left, they are already irretrievably soiled, Washington for being a slave owner, Lincoln for executing about three dozen Indians. If history is nothing but a parade of villains and virtue can never outweigh vice, then really who cares about honoring the memories of those who came before?

  2. P.S., of the presidents who weren’t jerks, excluding Harrison and Garfield because of their brief tenures, how many of them were effective? Coolidge, I guess, but “I’ll never lie to you” Carter? Hayes? (they called him “goody good” and his wife was “Lemonade Lucy” for not serving alcohol at the White House) Benjamin Harrison? Fillmore? Tyler? Forget it.

    • Yeah, my first thought was that when a generation grew up watching South Park, playing video games online with notoriously crude group chats, and listening to rap music and much of what qualifies for pop these days, I find it hard to pin this on Trump.

      • People, and especially males, always have been crude in their intimate groups. Carrying the crudeness into public is new, and it was a glass wall that had to be broken by someone perceived as having status and success. Social media is part of the recipe no doubt, but Trump’s ethics corrupter role shouldn’t be brushed aside. Among other reasons, the public just doesn’t get how important and powerful the influence of Presidential character is on the public and the culture, nor does the news media. The fish really does rot from the head down.

  3. I’d say any blame for the coarsening of the culture during the last presidential administration is shared between Trump himself and his opponents. The “let’s go Brandon” chant and it’s cruder progenitor, to use one example you cite, can’t be laid at the feet of Trump’s boorishness. Had Trump been a choirboy with Amish manners, do you think we’d have seen even one less example of “Fuck Trump” on signs, T-shirts, and TV? Would a gentler, more polite Trump have been spared having his mouth called a “cock holster” on a popular network TV show? LGB and FJB are responses to those kinds of things more than anything else.

    Yes, Trump is certainly at fault for some of this, but absent his assholery, we’d still be 80% or more to where we are now, anyway.
    Trump, to me, seems more like a symptom of “nation of assholes” syndrome, not the cause. Only a nation of assholes would elect such an open, proud, defiant asshole to such an office. And then do it again four years later, with a slightly different flavor, but just as big, asshole.

    • If you want disturbing examples of culture rot that predates Trump, check out some of the rap videos on youtube. The most disgusting ones have millions of views by the same age group that attend H.S. sport events. Super violent, sexist, misogynistic, video games don’t help either.

  4. At least we’ve moved on from politicians actively wishing the death of political enemies. Here’s Trump’s favourite president, Andrew Jackson, on his death bed:

    “I have only two regrets: that I have not shot Henry Clay or hanged John C. Calhoun”

    I’d call that progress.

      • Andy didn’t play. I believe he really would have hung the first South Carolinian he could have gotten his hands on if the Nullification Crisis had really exploded. He personally, pistol in each hand, apprehended a criminal who tried to flee from court when he was a judge, who later said he saw “kill” only in AJ’s eyes, no one else’s. He was also the only president to not only survive an assassination attempt, but to BEAT THE WOULD-BE ASSASSIN SENSELESS. He, TR, Reagan (maybe) and Trump (kinda) were what I’d call the superhero presidents, nothing stopped them. Washington probably merits an honorable mention as well, since he’s the only president to be ranked as a “great captain” by military history guru Trevor Dupuy.

    • Andrew Jackson, on his death bed:
      “I have only two regrets: that I have not shot Henry Clay or hanged John C. Calhoun”
      I’d call that progress.

      Yes, his last utterance wasn’t racist.

  5. I am in the pre-dated Trump camp.

    Have we forgotten “Lick Bush.”

    Add in social media and we are well on the way to tolerating awful behavior in public.

    The Trump Presidency May be the effect as much as it is the cause of bad behavior.


  6. Mr. Trump has been out of office since January 20, 2021. Yet, He is still living rent-free in people’s heads. Most, perhaps all, bad behavior has or will not be caused by him. You have fallen into consequentialism as you call it. None of their behavior is corroborative. Teenagers, both boys, and girls have exhibited bad behaviors toward each other for time immemorial.

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