One thing that I found refreshing during the beginning of the Lebanon uprising was the amount of cursing and insults being hurled at politicians. With a few exceptions, these have mostly ceased, and to my disappointment. There has been a clear attempt to “sanitize” the uprising across the board, from within the uprising unfortunately and clearly from without. This is quite unfortunate.
The focus on sanitizing the uprising is interesting to me, and for a variety of reasons. There’s no doubt that the negative view of cursing and insulting has always had a class dimension, as every language I’m familiar with typically “looks down” at people who curse. In Arabic, we have an expression that essentially rubbishes people who curse as “children of the streets”, and we were taught from a very young age to mind our language. It’s simply uncouth to curse in polite society.
People who enforce these social protocols during normal times have always irritated me to some extent, but they especially irritate me now as they tone-police those who have every right to curse the living shit out of politicians who have made their lives into living hell.
Cursing at these politicians is an extremely powerful expression of rage. It’s raw. It’s emotional. It’s authentic. And when deserved, it should not be bottled up. And these politicians deserve it. They deserve every single insult in the creative Lebanese cursing lexicon. They deserve to know that the majority of the people of Lebanon have no respect for them. That they spite them. That they hate them with a fiery passion that can only be expressed by insulting them in the most personal of ways.
And perhaps most importantly, cursing at these politicians is an authentic political statement, as you risk getting arrested, jailed or sued for defamation based on our nonsense laws on the books. Cursing at them explicitly signals to them that the wall of fear that they’ve erected for decades is crumbling. It sends them the message that we’re not afraid of you. That we don’t respect you or your supposed authority. And ultimately, that we are free of the psychological shackles you have imprisoned our minds in for so very long.
And so, with that, I’d like to direct this message to the entire Lebanese political class: get fucked.