At the 1974 World Food Conference in Rome, Earl Lauer Butz (July 3, 1909 – February 2, 2008) made fun of Pope Paul VI’s opposition to “population control” by quipping, in a mock Italian accent: “He no playa the game, he no maka the rules.” A spokesman for Cardinal Cooke of the New York archdiocese demanded an apology, and the White House requested that he apologize. Butz issued a statement saying that he had not “intended to impugn the motives or the integrity of any religious group, ethnic group or religious leader.”
Butz resigned his cabinet post on October 4, 1976 after a second gaffe. News outlets revealed a racist remark he made in front of entertainer Pat Boone and former White House counsel John Dean while aboard a commercial flight to California following the Republican National Convention. The October 18, 1976 issue of Time reported the comment while obscuring its vulgarity:
Butz started by telling a dirty joke involving intercourse between a dog and a skunk. When the conversation turned to politics, Boone, a right-wing Republican, asked Butz why the party of Lincoln was not able to attract more blacks. The Secretary responded with a line so obscene and insulting to blacks that it forced him out of the Cabinet last week and jolted the whole Ford campaign. Butz said: “I’ll tell you what the coloreds want. It’s three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit.”After some indecision, Dean used the line in Rolling Stone, attributing it to an unnamed Cabinet officer. But New Times magazine enterprisingly sleuthed out Butz’s identity by checking the itineraries of all Cabinet members.
In any case, according to the Washington Post, anyone familiar with Beltway politics could “have not the tiniest doubt in your mind as to which cabinet officer” uttered it.
While the Associated Press sent the uncensored quotation over the wire, the Columbia Journalism Review claims that only two newspapers — theToledo Blade (Toledo, Ohio) and the Madison Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin) — published the remark unchanged. Others bowdlerized the quote, in some cases replacing the female genital reference with “a tight [obscenity]” and the scatalogical reference with “a warm place to [vulgarism]” or “warm toilet seats”. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal said the original statement was available in the newspaper office; more than 200 stopped by to read it. The San Diego Evening Tribune offered to mail a copy of the whole quotation to anyone who requested it; more than 3,000 readers did.
According to Timothy Noah of Slate, this incident was “epochal” because before this, politicians assumed such offensive remarks could be uttered safely in private; after Butz’s resignation, politicians “could no longer assume your fellow whites would protect you for telling a joke insulting to blacks, and you could no longer assume your fellow blacks would protect you for telling a joke insulting to Jews.”
The infamous quote was the origin of the movie title Loose Shoes which includes a skit “Darktown After Dark”. In it, the quote is put to music in a lavish Big Band number, Cab Calloway style.
(via Earl Butz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Born in Albion, Indiana and brought up on a dairy farm in Noble County, Indiana. He was the eldest of five children and worked on his parents’ 160-acre (0.65 km2) farm while growing up. He attended a one-room country school thru 8th grade and graduated from high school in a class of seven. He was an alumnus of Purdue University where he was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.