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Friday, November 16, 2018

Seares: Melania’s absence; Duterte’s cussing

AS OF yesterday (Sunday, June 3), Melania Trump, the U.S. First Lady, had been missing for 23 straight days. A tweet that said she was “fine and was in the White House working on behalf of children and the American people” didn’t count as public appearance. Aside from the fact that it sounded more like President Trump than his wife.

The last sighting of Melania was when she joined Trump in greeting three Americans held hostage in North Korea. Comedian Conan Obrien’s joke that day was: Melania said, “He could free hostages. Why couldn’t he free me?”

Recurring themes in quips about Melania: from Conan and other late-night show hosts like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Seth Meyer:

* Wanting to escape --

-- “Melania and Second Lady Karen Spence were visiting Mexico. ‘We’re near the border,’ Melania said, “Why don’t we make a run for it?”

-- “The Secret Service worries about security. This year there were two attempts to break into the White House and one attempt by Melania to break out.”

* Worrying about a long union --

-- “Nov. 27 last year, George H.W. Bush, at age 93 years and 167 days, became the oldest living U.S. president. Melania said, ‘Please God, don’t tell me they live that long.’”

-- “Donald Trump’s doctor predicted a long life for the president. The doctor is now treating Melania for depression.”

* Public display of no-love --

-- “Trump threatened North Korea with fury and fire. Melania said, ‘he’s been saying that to me every night and nothing ever happened.’”

-- “Trump tweets on bed every night. When asked about it, Melania retorted: ‘How the hell would I know?”

-- “Going viral is the photo of Obama making Melania smile. That’s the first time a president ever made Melania smile.”

A late-night show joke requires a factual event or incident for its peg. Are the comedians getting the basis of their humor right? Images of Melania publicly frowning or swatting away Donald’s hand overwhelm feeble attempts to present the picture of a happy marriage. That prompts the jokes but only vaguely explains her disappearance.

Cussing and honesty

Last Saturday (June 2). President Duterte said Diego Garcia-Sayan, U.N. special rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers, “can go to hell” for “meddling” in Philippine affairs when he slammed the removal of Supreme Court (SC) chief justice Lourdes Sereno by the SC in a quo warranto case. Not the first public swearing by Duterte in public.

The stereotype is that one who swears or curses lacks vocabulary and can’t express himself. Not so in fact, said sciencealert.com in a Feb. 2, 2017 article, citing studies of Marist College (New York) that a person may swear “for linguistic effect, to convey emotion, get laughs, or deliberately hype up his message.”

Also, the “Psychological and Personality Science Journal” in a Jan. 6, 2017 article reported findings of the studies conducted by University of California, Maastrict University (Netherlands) and Stanford University about a “consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty...”

Duterte swears a lot and often. If the studies are right, he must be articulate and honest. Or he might just be trying to relieve pain. He has publicly admitted about pain from his back joints and excessive sweating and that he often presses his cheek to ease the pain. A “Time” magazine article in 2011 said studies indicate the release of pain-relieving chemicals during a stream of cuss words.


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