Michael Nutter’s Top 9 Profane Moments

When, why and what for: a brief history of Nutter's mayoral blue streak.

Photos | Top row, Jeff Fusco. Bottom row, from left, Matt Rourke/AP, Meet the Press, Matt Rourke/AP

Mayor Michael Nutter might not be swearing in these images — but the odds are decent. Photos | Top row, Jeff Fusco. Bottom row, from left, Matt Rourke/AP, Meet the Press, Matt Rourke/AP

When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter leaves office, we’ll miss his potty mouth.

Since he was sworn in seven years ago, he has called an assortment of criminals “real assholes,” “complete assholes” and “little assholes.” He’s dubbed a proposal by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre “a completely dumb-ass idea.” He’s said of negligent city workers, “I would kick their ass myself.”

Usually, Nutter swears in reaction to the city’s gun violence. It often comes across as genuine, like someone who is truly frustrated by the senselessness of it all. Just last week, he said a shooter was an “asshole” after wounding an 8-year-old. The downside is that Nutter’s name-calling sometimes undercuts the seriousness of a situation — is the person responsible for a child’s shooting really just an “asshole”?

Regardless, there is a political benefit to cussing: Nutter looks like a regular Joe when he lets a bad word slip. He also nearly always gets local media attention, and occasionally even wins national coverage. We’re not ashamed to add to that mountain of reports. For your profane pleasure, here are nine of Nutter’s most high-profile cusses in chronological order:

9. “I Would Kick Their Ass Myself”

Nutter’s first well-known curse came in the wake of a tragedy, which foreshadowed many of his cusses to come. It was 2008, and two employees in Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services has been charged in the grisly starvation death of the disabled teenager Danieal Kelly. “I am fully, thoroughly and completely pissed off about what has happened here,” Nutter said at a press conference following their arrests. “When I think of my own daughter, and if she were in someone else’s care, and they performed the way some of these individuals did, I would kick their ass myself.” Afterward, Nutter was criticized by social workers who said that residents might take him at face value and attempt to hurt employees.

8. “I’m Personally Pissed Off”

That wasn’t the last time Nutter got publicly pissed off at city workers. In July of 2010, three cops were busted for scheming to steal $10o,000 worth of heroin from a drug dealer and resell it. “I’m personally pissed off about this kind of behavior,” said Nutter, adding that the police officers “are nothing more than the criminals that they’ve been associated with.” The three men were later tossed in federal prison for their bad deeds.

7. “You Do Not Have a Right to Beat Someone’s Ass on the Street”

In the summer of 2011, African-American youths attacked strangers in Center City more than once. The phenomenon became known as “flash mobs.” Nutter told reporters at an August press conference following one of the attacks, “I don’t care what your economic status is in life, you do not have a right to beat someone’s ass on the street.” He also implemented earlier curfews, expanded hours at recreation centers, and vowed to crack down on the mobs.

6. “It Takes a Complete Asshole to Do These Kinds of Things”

Looking back, the summer of 2011 was rough. In August, there also were two shootings in the span of a week at the city’s rec centers. Nutter was disgusted that violence broke out at these “scared places.” He said, “It literally violates almost a code in our communities. While there should be no violence on the streets of Philadelphia … it takes a complete asshole to do these kinds of things at a city facility.”

5. “Snatch That Little Asshole Up”


Sometimes, Nutter mixes profanity with a little bit of gratitude. Police arrested Axel Barreto in 2012 for allegedly shooting and killing three teenagers. Afterward, Nutter said, “I’m very proud and appreciative that the Philadelphia Police Department and the U.S. Marshals were able to snatch that little asshole up last night within 24 hours of some of the most heinous, egregious activity we’ve seen in this city in recent times. If you want to be an idiot, if you want to be an asshole, if you want to be a lowlife in this town, we will track you down like the dog that you are, catch you and you will be subject to every possible penalty that the laws allow.” Nutter wasn’t kidding. Barreto was sentenced to life in prison (three lives in prison, actually) for the crimes.

4. “Some Little Asshole 16-Year-Old

Philadelphia’s WaWa Welcome America festival in 2012 was a rollicking, good, crowded-as-hell time … except for the fact that a 16-year-old shot two teenagers nearby. Nutter was determined to not let that overshadow the success of the event. “I’m not gonna let some little asshole 16 year-old who had a beef with somebody a month ago up in Germantown negatively impact the image of the city,” he said.

3. “That Was a Completely Dumbass Idea From the Start”

Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the National Rifle Association, had an idea in 2012. Following a horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., he recommended installing armed guards at every school in the country. Nutter did not like this idea. “I guess Mr. LaPierre would then say firefighters need to have armed guards go with them,” he said on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports. “I think it just shows that was a completely dumbass idea from the start with the announcement last week.” For his profanity, Nutter was awarded with press coverage by the Huffington Post and POLITICO.

2. “Chase Their Little Asses Down”

Throughout his tenure, Nutter has been panned for failing to crack down on tax deadbeats. Philadelphia magazine’s Patrick Kerkstra wrote in 2011 for PlanPhilly that the city then ran “the least-effective delinquent-property-tax collection system of the nation’s biggest cities.” In 2013, Nutter tried to tamp down some of the criticism by announcing a plan to invest $40 million on new technology and employees aimed at forcing delinquents to pay up. And by cussing. “Now there are some other trifling, raggedy people around here who can actually pay, who don’t pay. We’re going to chase their little asses down as hard as possible.”

1. “A Real Asshole”

Which brings us to today. Earlier this month, a precious 8-year-old girl was shot in the head when someone opened fire on a car in West Philadelphia. If you know anything about the shooter, authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information. Appallingly, police said it was all a result of senseless road rage. Nutter, along with the rest of the city, was furious. “That is the most idiotic, crazy-ass behavior that people engage in,” he said. “This random gunfire because you want to get around a car that happened to be double parked? I mean that’s a real asshole.”

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