Last week, during the official celebration of the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup, the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, told a jammed Staples Center that "there are two long-standing rules for politicians . ... They say never, ever be pictured with a drink in your hand and never swear. But this is a big f-----g day," he said, holding up a bottle of Bud Light.
You read that right. In front of 18,000 people at Staples and hundreds of thousands of others watching on television -- many of them, of course, children -- the mayor of the second-largest city in America held up a beer bottle and used the F-word.
This was not a whisper overheard by reporters. This was not an accidental loss of self-control. This was a planned use of obscene language in a public forum.
The question is: Does it matter?
According to the Los Angeles Times report, to the vast majority of people who heard it, it didn't.
"The audience roared. Players stood up to applaud.
"Outside Staples Center and L.A. Live, the remarks were a hit. Lake Forest resident Jeff Ottinger, who attended Monday's rally, said ... 'I think a lot of times politicians are uppity and stuffy and for him to actually be a fan is cool.'"
"It makes me have much more respect for him," said Jason Werntz, 45, of Burbank.
Not only was the mayor not apologetic, he repeated his comment on Facebook and Twitter.
"Soon afterward," the Times reported, "Garcetti had similar, PG-rated messages on Facebook and his official Twitter feed. 'There are a few rules in politics, one is never swear, but this is a BFD. @ericgarcetti welcomes the #StanleyCup to LA."
There are those of us who believe that this is an example of a civilization in decline (or even in free fall). And there are those who think that this is either no "BFD" (as Garcetti and his admirers might say) or actually a good thing. Here are two typical comments on the Los Angeles Times website:
Bruuuce: "I love him even more!"
MarkRomero: "I thought the comment was very humorous!! I laughed out loud when I heard it. You no sense of humor haters will never get it. That's exactly why you are the way you are -- humorless and republican, most likely. Go KINGS!"
(He is right about "Republican" -- which tells you a lot about both the Republican and Democratic Parties.)
Nor was support confined to anonymous commenters and thousands of fans. Not one member of the Los Angeles City Council condemned the mayor. At least one, Councilman Mike Bonin, "said he agreed with the mayor's vivid description of the day."