Sure, he was funny, but George Carlin was also an astute observer of the way humans think and behave.

One of the things I admired most about him was his disdain for politically correct language and euphemisms.

“I don’t like words that hide the truth,” the late comedian once said. “I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Because Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. And it gets worse with every generation. For some reason it just keeps getting worse.”

Carlin also got it right when he said this: “It’s the context that counts. It’s the user. It’s the intention behind the words that makes them good or bad.”

In one example, he recited a litany of racist epithets and offensive words, noting that someone could justifiably interpret them differently in the context of a comedy routine than from the mouth of an avowed bigot.

Consider these statements, then, and decide whether they are acceptable from a front-runner for president of the United States:

— “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. ... They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

— On Fox News’ Meghan Kelly, who questioned Trump about his disparaging remarks about women: “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her, wherever.”

— “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

— “Look at those hands, are they small hands?” he said during a nationally televised debate. “If they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”

— Referring to former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? ... I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

The list goes on, but you get the message. Or do you?

Unlike Carlin, Trump is not a comedian — at least a professional one. Next year, he could be the leader of the free world, commander in chief of the mightiest military on Earth and the man who will help shape America’s relationship with the rest of the globe.

What do those statements, and the string of others he has uttered, say about him as a potential president? Be honest with yourself: Would you stand in front of a diverse crowd of people and say these things? Would you accept the backlash from the people your words would offend? Or would you instead write off the critics as overly sensitive and politically correct? Would you understand if the latter did not diminish the backlash?
Like Carlin, I dislike words that hide the truth. But whose truth?

I believe political correctness sometimes goes too far. But how far is too far?

Fair or not, each of us gets to decide. And those decisions come with consequences.

The degree and severity of those consequences are a lot greater for a president of the United States than for the rest of us.
Carlin was right: “It’s the context that counts. It’s the user. It’s the intention behind the words that makes them good or bad.”

— Houma (La.) Courier and Thibodaux (La.) Daily Comet Executive Editor Keith Magill can be reached at 985-857-2201 or keith.magill@houmatoday.com.