It was about a year ago during public comment in a hearing of the Historic Preservation Commission that the HPC chairman Scott Winnette interrupted a speaker and threatened to throw him out, declaring he was out of order for uttering a profanity. The profanity, Winnette charged, was the use of the D-word as in: “The Commission’s Guidelines are a DAMN mess…” (I was the speaker in question.)
Now the HPC often attracts profanities from the citizens it harasses – the lady who wants to rebuild a cracked concrete stoop for example and is told brick is unacceptable despite there being brick stoops, stone stoops, wooden stoops, iron stoops nearby. But because she cannot prove her particular stoop was historically once brick, she’s not allowed to replace her broken concrete stoop with a brick one; the man who substituted metal-clad double glaze windows for slightly rotted wood single glaze windows and needs “post construction approval” from the HPC and doesn’t get it because under the Guidelines a window must be beyond repair before it can be replaced, and then must be replaced with a window of “like material” so he is forced to remove the perfectly good metal clad window and buy another wood window; and the woman who wants to do some paving stones in her front yard but is told that the existing thin grass lawn is a ‘contributing resource’ and that her paving stones would detract from the historic landscape and streetscape; the people who want to rebuild their concrete block garage with wider doors because it was built for narrow T-model Fords but are not allowed to because this changes the historic pattern of openings in the building … such are the time-wasting, expensive, insulting and absurd acts of petty domestic dictatorship by the HPC that regularly drive citizens of Frederick to real profanity.
But ‘damn’ as profanity?
That one had us perplexed. The D-word is simply an expression of strong disdain. It says “I feel strongly about this injustice. Pay attention.”
It has no obscene connotations.
Good enough for candidates for President
Maybe HPC Chairman Winnette took note of the use of his dread D-word in the October 13 Democratic presidential debate in front of some 20 million viewers.
Here’s the extract as published in many ‘family newspapers:’
Bernie Sanders: Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.
Hillary Clinton: Thank you. Me, too. Me, too.
Sanders: You know? The middle class—Anderson, and let me say something about the media, as well. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens Union. Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.