Only a short time ago, it seemed that the idea of creating a more civil level of political debate had entered the national dialogue. Finally, we were beginning to admit that the polarization of opinions and ideology in America had been bringing down the level of discourse in our great nation. Since then, Glenn Beck has gone off his nut, Rush went after Michelle Obama's physique and pissed-off Democrats in Wisconsin legged it out of town to lash out at Scott Walker, who clearly had no intention of listening to what they had to say anyway.
Obviously, then, it is unlikely that the name-calling and manipulation of the media to further the often fact-challenged agenda of vitriolic voices from both sides of the aisle will disappear overnight.
Unless we boldly and abruptly decide to change our national language to French.
The immediate benefits are obvious: without access to English words, and assuming the average American politician (let alone citizen) has little to no grasp on how to construct a complete sentence in French, public figures will be severely limited in what they can say to hurt, defame, scandalize or angrily oppose their opponents. In fact, any public debate will be, in the early days of the new French language paradigm, potentially reduced to a series of monosyllabic grunts between party rivals as they struggle to remember the French translation of what they had hoped to communicate. An outgrowth of this learning curve will be an increased need to pick up on body language and nuances of facial expression. Thus, before they can tell each other to go to hell ("allez an enfer?" whatever...), they'll be embracing one another and weeping at their shared aspects of humanity that transcend opinions and affiliations.
This gives us at least five to ten years of more polite public argument, as pundits and politicos are forced into a certain level of civility simply by virtue of attempting to become proficient in the particulars of our new national language: French.
And, let's face it, once the language is absorbed into the culture, even if things do get ugly, doesn't merde sound nicer than the alternative? I can see the next cycle of presidential debates filled with folks at podiums giving a jocular 'tsk,' rolling their eyes and saying "oh, merde," to every spurious argument presented by their learned colleagues. Far more genteel.
One possible problem is that in French, the phrase 'liberal media' very handily translates to 'libéral media,' so you know they're going to trot that one out very early into the new paradigm.
Still, we've got to bring a new era of considered opinions into the public debate, and forcing people to speak French is the perfect way to do it.
Failing that, we could just find some crazy pastor to ritually burn a Webster's Dictionary.
James Napoli is an author and humorist. More of his comedy content for the Web can be found here.
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