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.