You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

Massachusetts – the New Four-Letter Word

I actually intended for this blog to be full of random nothingness and humorous observations of my (boring) life, but I guess it’s inevitable that politics would come up since it’s an election year. I’ve noticed the same thing in countless other blogs that never intended to be political but have lately ranted about one issue or another.

I watched the third and final presidential debate last night and G.W. Bush uttered the word “Massachusetts” numerous times…and every single time he intended for it to be an insult. Since when is Massachusetts a bad thing? I mean, if it wasn’t for us, we might still not even be a country. We started the revolution to separate from England (Boston Tea Party, Battle of Bunker Hill, Lexington/Concord). And over the 375 years since the pilgrims first arrived here, we’ve provided other benefits to society: America’s first library, first public schools, first subway system. We are the birthplace to some of America’s most significantly historic people such as Ben Franklin, John Adams, John F. Kennedy, Alexander Graham Bell. We’re also home to some significant inventions/discoveries such as ether (first anesthesia to knock you out during surgery), the telephone, the internet. Today, bio-tech research facilities and universities in Massachusetts continue to discover new things and provide research to elminate diseases in the future. We have a history of forward-thinking that, I believe, has benefited this country.

And Bush uses the word Massachusetts as if it’s derogatory. Even worse, he prefers to add another word he considers negative: liberal (“Kerry is the liberal senator from Massachusetts”). According to the American Heritage Dictionary, liberal is defined as “not limited to or by established traditional, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry; favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others”

THAT’S A BAD THING? What the fuck? It’s wrong to be open to progress? It’s wrong to be tolerant of others?

Maybe I’m just clueless. I’ve read over the years about how Massachusetts is ‘way left’ of the spectrum; how we are unlike any other state in the country. Is that true? I’m asking my readers from other parts of the country to pipe in and comment here. What do people from your state think of us? Are we perceived as a bunch of ex-hippie, earthy, granola-eating, gay-loving peace-niks?

It’s funny, because living here, I see the opposite. I think Massachusetts is still incredibly puritanical. I mean, if I see our state as being so uptight – what must it really be like in the rest of the country? I’m scared.


  1. Comment by Underling on October 14, 2004 10:52 am

    Well, you governor is certainly not a liberal. And he certainly seems pretty puritanical in his views. And the people of Mass obviously elected him.

    I think the President should start using Oklahoma as an insult. This place is a fucking hole.

  2. Comment by jeff on October 14, 2004 11:07 am

    Don’t ever move to Kansas…

  3. Comment by Erica on October 14, 2004 12:01 pm

    Proud to be a Massachusetts Liberal, then. 😀

    Kerry should start using “Texas” as a dirty word, then… Poor Texans.

  4. Comment by adamg on October 14, 2004 12:01 pm

    Alas, I’m one of those goddamn commie pinko Massachusetts liberals (but I hate granola). Some historical context though: Conservatives have ALWAYS hated Massachusetts. The reason New Englanders are called Yankees is because of British attempts to insult us during the Revolution (“Yankee Doodle” and all that).

  5. Comment by David on October 14, 2004 1:43 pm

    Karl you are turning into a Crudader.
    Maybe Bush will have Massachusetts crammed up his Texas and see how he likes it. Hmmm,
    maybe with some ketcup.

  6. Comment by matt on October 14, 2004 4:42 pm

    Underling — Don’t tell Karl I told you this, but he ACTUALLY liked our shitty governor for a while. I just sat pretty and said not a word. Hmmmmmm….

    Baby — You tell ’em! However after reviewing your comments to my post from yesterday it occurs to me that you require some refreshers regarding Barbra film entrances — I think we shall need to watch Mirror Has 2 Faces tonight to bring you back up to speed. …or maybe Funny Lady or NUTS.

  7. Comment by Scott on October 14, 2004 7:06 pm

    I hate to burst your bubble, but people in my state don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about Massachussets one way or the other.

    A growing lot of us, however, wish that Texas would secede from the country again.

  8. Comment by John on October 14, 2004 8:17 pm

    Well, I live in Texas, but I used to live in Boston. If you say “Massachusetts” to a Texan generally the first thing they will think of is snow. Those of us who are a bit older remember the same Mass-as-insult crap coming from Poppy when Mike Dukakis ran.

    As someone else noted, most people around the country don’t really think about Massachusetts at all, because, why would they? Anymore than most of us think about Ohio all that much. It’s a state. There was a great piece in the Eonomist about 6-8 weeks ago that analyzed Massachusetts politics with a British eye and concluded that it was not particularly liberal, but in fact the kind of state government that most Americans would like to have.

    The funny thing is, desite the general tolerance and common sense of the state government, culturally it’s the most conservative place I’ve ever lived, and yes, that includes Texas. I live in Houston, which is generally far more diverse and where racial and class gaps get bridged a lot more easily than I ever saw happening in Boston. Unless Boston has dramatically changed since 1996. And while it’s generally easier to be openly gay in Massachusetts than most of the US, it’s not THAT much easier, the cities here are like most American cities, and rural areas are like most American rural areas.

    Boston remains the only place in America where a landlord turned me away because I was gay. It was also the only place my partner at the time experienced job discrimination because of being gay. These things are seldom as clear cut as they seem.

  9. Comment by Karl on October 15, 2004 10:12 am

    Thanks for your comments, everybody! This was just the type of feedback I was looking for.

    Obviously, I didn’t think that U.S. citizen ran around all day thinking about Massachusetts. But, if the subject of Massachusetts came up, I was just curious if the rest of the country had the same negative associations as Bush (which, in itself I find ironice since his father was born in Massachusetts and G.W. went to college here).

  10. Comment by John on October 15, 2004 11:15 am

    Well, the Bushes are a great example of a powerful New England family. I always laugh when I fly out of Houston Intercontinental (or to use the official name: Bush Intercontinental) and pass the Poppy display – it has a big sign reading something like “George And Barbara, To Washington and Back Home.” Home? Boston? Even when he ran for president, the “home” in Houston was a hotel suite. Considering how cranky people here get about distinguishing between true Texans and carpetbaggers (like me!) I’m surprised they went along with this.

  11. Comment by Jeff on October 15, 2004 11:35 am

    Massachusetts liberal eh? How about a Bob Jones University Conservative?

    I’d never use someone’s state or country as an insult. But President Bush chose to associate himself with BJU. It’s kind of sad that Mass liberal hurts you more in this country than an open relationship with that place.

  12. Comment by Dee-Rob on October 16, 2004 7:22 pm

    I saw this link on Boston Common. I was just saying exactly the same thing last night about the debates.

    We have a conservative governor and a history of racial tension. You go to your average Dunkin’ Donuts, and you don’t meet people like Kerry, Kennedy or whatever fanciful notion Bush has.

    The one thing that gets me is his repeated references to liberal taxes, etc. to smear Kerry. As a Senator, Kerry has absolutely nothing to do with taxes here (unlike Dukakis when Daddy smeared him). But, on top of that our tax rate is currently below the national average.

  13. Comment by Anelia on September 1, 2005 1:58 pm

    Very nice

  14. Comment by Aviation Museum on September 12, 2005 10:05 am

    Aviation History Magazine

  15. Comment by Rubber Bracelet on September 19, 2005 12:56 pm

    Rubber Sheet

  16. Comment by Extreme Sports Nutrition on October 4, 2005 7:58 am

    Extreme Sports Equipment

  17. Comment by National City Online Banking on October 31, 2005 7:29 am

    Cibc Online Banking

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.