Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 29, 2011

THE RIGHT TARGETS, THE WRONG LANGUAGE.... Regular readers know I have no qualms about calling out ridiculous far-right Republicans like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. I consider them national embarrassments, representing the worst American politics has to offer.

And yet, I'm uncomfortable with language like this, even from a talk-show host I generally like.

It's all fun and games until someone brings out the "c" word. Comedian Bill Maher called Sarah Palin just that on Sunday night in Dallas, laying into the former Alaska guv and saying that "there's just no other word for her."

Maher also referred to Palin last week as a "dumb twat." As part of a larger comparison of the Republican presidential field to the characters on Gilligan's Island, the host also characterized Palin and Bachmann as the "two bimbos."

Look, I know Maher is a comedian, and often, he's a good one. I also know that in comedy, being outspoken and over the top is just part of the act -- discomfort and a high shock-value can lead to bigger laughs. And it's not lost on me that Maher hosted a program called, of all things, "Politically Incorrect."

But I don't like language that's demeaning to women, even if I'm offended by the women on the receiving end of the criticism. There are endless ways to mock conspicuously unintelligent conservatives -- from either gender -- without using ugly language like this.

It doesn't matter if Palin and Bachmann are idiots. It does matter how one goes about describing them as idiots.

If this were 2007 and a conservative talk-show host had used identical language to describe Hillary Clinton, I'd be livid. If prominent voices on the right used racial and/or ethnic slurs, they'd face serious pushback, from me and others, and they'd deserve it. If conservative media figures used degrading language to target religious minorities, that'd be unacceptable, too.

The point is not to suggest the need for "language police." Obviously, Maher is free to speak his mind. His word choice is between him, his conscience, and the folks who sign his checks.

But I want to be intellectually honest and consistent. If I don't like it when hosts on the right use language that's demeaning to women, I'm going to call out hosts I do like for doing the same thing.

Wrong is wrong.

Steve Benen 4:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (60)

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Comments

Agreed. I stopped watching him because of the pretty much constant misogyny.

Posted by: Stu on March 29, 2011 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK


Kudos to you Steve.

Let Maher call them all kinds of names. And (deservedly) mock them. But he needs to lay off the sexism implicit in his insults. Bachman and Palin are too easy a target to indulge in those kinds of cheap shots.

Posted by: cdm on March 29, 2011 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as a be-ovaried human, I've always felt that word (and I am emphatically not a person who has a problem with cursing) sends out shockwaves of misogyny when it's uttered. Or at least when I've heard it. It's not about being an asshole, or a fucking asshole...but that the person in question was a fucking asshole at the same time they were being a woman. Sarah Palin would be just as ignorant and stupid if she were a man, but the fact that she was all these things as a woman...well, 'cunt' feels like an extra bit of loathing that is especially connected to her female-ness.

Posted by: sweaver on March 29, 2011 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I agree with Maher. He's correct. They are bimbos. What's the problem with that? If Bachmann wants to graduate from the "bimbo" status, she can stop lying and figure out where Lexington and Concord are.

Posted by: POed Lib on March 29, 2011 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Maher is just a hateful asshole who agrees with some progressives. Most of his guests can be seen elsewhere.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on March 29, 2011 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I agree .... but do I have to stop saying Newt is a dick?

Posted by: You Don't Say on March 29, 2011 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

The big problem with the 'c' word is that it is not only demeaning, but it is absolutely without content--it's a pure insult that says nothing of substance about the target. At least 'dumb thwat' and 'bimbos' say something--they say that the people in question are dumb. Not a nice thing to say, but arguably correct. You can't even argue that the c-word applied to Palin is correct or incorrect, because it is meaningless.

Posted by: Tony Greco on March 29, 2011 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

What bothers me more is that, while it's great to be in a country - and in a position- to say exactly what's on your mind, using language any way you want and be able to reach a potential audience that's limited ony by the amount of people who have access to HBO and/or the internet, Maher's a smart enough guy to know that, by going "there," the discussion immediately shifts from "does his argument have merit? How well does he support his opinion?" to "Did he have to go there? Did he have to use THAT word? Does he have a problem with powerful women to make him use such language?" It was probably god for a laugh in his audience, and to paraphrase Chris Rock, I'm not saying he ought to have killed her character...BUT I UNDERSTAND. But Maher's been in a position where his opinion is being taken seriously as an ardent critic of political power players from all sides of the aisle (even if much of his focus is on the right). And now his message is diluted. Not to get all Godwin on everyone, but it'd be like making an impassioned plea for world peace, for the world to get together and put aside petty differences and work towards a common humanity, and then ending with "Except the Jews. Fuck those guys." Suddenly the point you wanted to make is tainted by your use of language, Whether you think that's fair or not, we are but simple mortals. You can either make a point about the evil people do in the name of politics, or you can deconstruct language, but you really shouldn't do both at the same time and expect both points to survive. Indeed, you shouldn't be surprised if one point cannibalize the other.

And while that horsecrap is being debated, what won't be discussed at all is that Palin and Bachmann are vile despicable people worthy of scorn and ridicule, just preferably gender-neutral.

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 29, 2011 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

cheney is a dick, nothing sexist about that.
there are swear words appropriate to the person.

Posted by: jpd on March 29, 2011 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes using foul words shows a lack of creativity. Surely Palin and Bachmann deserve better hyperbole.

Posted by: Danp on March 29, 2011 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Maher apparently developed pretensions of being British.

Posted by: martin on March 29, 2011 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed, and bravo. Our cause--which includes standing up for human dignity--rests on its own merits and doesn't need Maher's kind of demeaning sexist language. He needs to have every liberal denounce him for this. There's more than enough about Palin and Bachmann to denounce root and branch without going in Maher's direction.

Posted by: James Miller on March 29, 2011 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Stupidity is associated with the cranial region of the human body. The brain can be stupid, and for people with stupid brains, it makes no sense to focus on any other part of the body as the brain is the thing that can't change any of the rest of the body because it is stupid already!

To call Palin or Bachmann anything but stupid would be begging the question!

Oh, and I for one do not get a steady diet of Bill Maher simply because I can't make my mind up if he's a bona fide comidian or simply a bad political observer! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 29, 2011 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Steve.

Posted by: Athena on March 29, 2011 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

comedian

Posted by: kevo on March 29, 2011 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I heart you, Steve.

You're absolutely right. Well put.

Posted by: chacha on March 29, 2011 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of years ago, I decided to stop using the names of human body parts as insults. It wasn't easy -- there's that one human body part that seems such an appropriate descriptor of dislikable people-- but I managed it, and found there are plenty of other fun cuss words to choose from. Twats, pricks and assholes? I don't know anyone who has one and wants to be rid of it.

Now, Bill Maher, he's just a shit-head and a Coulter-enabler.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 29, 2011 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Hear, hear.

Posted by: Eeyore on March 29, 2011 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Consider the source. We're talking about a "comedian" who says some of the things we'd all like to (or do) say. Maher is almost the same as Limbaugh in some respects except he does television and is otherwise polarized and preaching to the choir. If I were a female I may be bruised but I'm not, I guess my secret word would be "faggot" but that word lost most of its power over me a long, long time ago. I would expect that word immediately from an otherwise polarized political “comedian” most certainly. Get over it, get over yourself but of course, follow and honor your own principles. Palin and Bachman's actions are ridiculous, I think at least Palin has earned it with her bat-shit, culture war, in your face hypocrisy; Bachman is just fucking crazy. Judge not lest ye be judged..

Posted by: Trollop on March 29, 2011 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Maher has the maturity of a particularly petulant and smug 15-year-old.

Posted by: the_dan on March 29, 2011 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed and agreed again, Steve. There are so many more vivid and devastating ways to characterize these morons, why does Maher want to go back to the boys' locker room vocabulary?

Posted by: Fred on March 29, 2011 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

I couldn't agree more. There is no place for this type of language, even when describing Palin.

Bill has seemed "off" to me the past couple of weeks. A lot of the things he has said recently make me pause and think "huh?" It's too bad because in the past I have considered him to be brilliant.

Posted by: J Zadero on March 29, 2011 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Part of me agrees with you. OTOH, the original name of the anti Hillary Clinton group Citizens United was Citizens Untited, Not Timid (acronym that one, won't you). I don't recall conservative tripping over themselves to denounce it. In fact they loved it. So clever!

I understand saying that you can't lower yourselves to their level, but you also can't fight with one arm behind your back. In a vacuum, what Maher said was wrong, but in a world where his intended targets regularly acuse liberals of treason and literally want to resurrect the HUAC, I can live with it.

Posted by: IanY77 on March 29, 2011 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Bravo for you, Steve Benen.

Posted by: PTate in MN on March 29, 2011 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Good. Whether you are Maher or Rush or Jon Steward, or a blogger where irresponsibility reigns, the use of crude, offensive terms for anyone should be--in my mind--off limits. Do I think that Palin and Bachman are subject to jibes? Of course, but one can do it without the use of offensive language. Example: Both Palin and Bachman illustrate once more that our educational system needs fixing.

Posted by: philat on March 29, 2011 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

If I call Newt Gingrich a prick, or maintain that Scott Walker has engaged in dickish behavior, am I being sexist? Just wondering.

Posted by: wheresthebeef on March 29, 2011 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

"I understand saying that you can't lower yourselves to their level, but you also can't fight with one arm behind your back."

Wait, the c-word is some sort of great weapon we should reluctantly use because conservatives are jerks when they use it? Huh? I daresay it's the exact opposite: The more we use it, the weaker we become.

And the main thing is that Palin and Bachmann are terrific examples of why people should vote Democrat and the vast majority of America agrees. I see no reason why we should get anyone to think otherwise by using offensive words that should remain off-limits. When it comes to these two bozos, we've already won and every day they say something stupid, we continue to win. Let's not spoil it.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on March 29, 2011 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

He clearly spent too much time hanging out with Coulter.

Posted by: Jon on March 29, 2011 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

What are the definitions of the words being referred to here? The "C" word is a verbal symbol for a female body part. Is it somehow wrong to have that body part? If Palin has one and you call her by that name, what are you saying? Why not call her a despicable human being lacking compassion and understanding of her fellow humans and the natural world? Too long? Then just call her ignorant and vile and hateful. Bachmann shares some of the same characteristics(I can't say I've ever heard her say more than 50 words because I refuse to listen long enough when I see her image on screen and don't listen to stations that even bother to quote her).
Using the "D" word to describe males whom you despise falls into the same catergory as using the "C" word for a female. And, by the way, does anyone remember John McCain using to "C" word and trollop to describe his current wife, in front of reporters? Does anyone here want to use McCain as a model for speech?
Just wanted to weigh in on this discussion. If we learn to be more creative with our language, we make a lot more points than using the lazy person's language.

Posted by: st john on March 29, 2011 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Well, he's a comedian, so there's that.

On the other hand, I'd just go with "she's an asshole."

Being concise is always the best policy.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on March 29, 2011 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

If I call Newt Gingrich a prick, or maintain that Scott Walker has engaged in dickish behavior, am I being sexist? Just wondering.

Absolutely not. The rule of thumb on this sort of thing is context. When a black person uses the N-word or a gay person uses the F-word, it's understood that the person isn't using it in the historically offensive sense, but in a specific sense. But when someone from outside a group makes the reference, the context is unknown, so it should be avoided so as to make sure that no one misconstrues the words as being used in the historically offensive sense.

Thus said, there is no historically offensive slur on dicks, pricks, bastards, or assholes. No matter who uses them, it doesn't betray a sexist intent because there is no historically sexist context for them.

Finally, I'd like to say that the c-word currently resides in a no-use zone for anyone to use seriously. For whatever reason, it's incredibly offensive for even women to use it against one another. Therefore, it can only be used ironically, and even then, only amongst people who understand that it is being used ironically.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on March 29, 2011 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Cunt and twat, no. They're offensive, much more offensive than prick or dick.

But bimbo is on target. Both Palin and Bachman trade on their sex appeal. Palin does it much more overtly and annoyingly, perhaps because she started out as a local TV news person - but they both do it.

Posted by: Bloix on March 29, 2011 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you call people names too. (freakshow). Why are the names you call people acceptable and Mahers' not? Which -isms are out of bounds and which are not? Not to defend his language, but it is by subscription only.

Posted by: LoveHate on March 29, 2011 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Forgive me, I think Bachmann is an ignoramus with grand delusions. She's fluffy, vapid and stupid. Palin is a cunt. Her constant snear and head nod of righteousness and comfort in both playing the victim card and viciously attacking anyone who says anything about her makes that word a full blown description of her personality and being. She's not a politician, she's a nasty piece of work who is downright dangerous to any meaningful discourse. I think cunt fits her to a T.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 29, 2011 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's disappointing that Steve would be "livid" if those words were applied to Hillary Clinton, but is only "uncomfortable" if they're applied to Palin or Bachmann. As a feminist, I'm livid if they're applied to any woman. It's the N word. Period. Always wrong to use. And just for the record, any idiot who doubts germ theory znd thinks vaccines are a govt plot has lost all right to be treated as a functioning intelligent adult. Maher is a fool.

Posted by: johio on March 29, 2011 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Steve. I'm uncomfortable with the "c" word no matter what. I've been turned off by Maher for a long time and stopped my HBO subscription because it was really the only thing I watched on there. Glad to see I'm not really missing anything. Don't watch his clips on the web either.

Posted by: Joy on March 29, 2011 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

It's extremely inappropriate to call Palin a c*nt.

She lacks the required warmth and depth.

Posted by: g on March 29, 2011 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

MsJoanne and others: what is the definition of "cunt" that it is such a "good" word to use to put down Sarah Palin or any other woman? If I call a woman a vagina, does it carry the same impact? Cunt is just another, cruder, symbol for vagina. I learned these words when I was in elementary school. I hope that I have matured beyond using an 8 year old boy's vocabulary in adult situations. Language is a funny thing. Used properly, it can cut like a knife; used without nuance, it is just a blunt instrument that causes more collateral damage and diminishes the intended outcome.

Posted by: stjohn on March 29, 2011 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Meh. You need to get out and see live comedy more, Steve. Maher was doing a theater show for grown-ups, and guess what? Grown-up comedians often work blue. Without seeing the routine, I don't know whether Maher was funny or not. But I can imagine Lenny Bruce or Louis CK or Chris Rock or Kathy Griffin working in a c-word once or twice in a routine and making me laugh. I think that because you see Maher in a big-media framework so often, you forget that live, he's just one more schmo with a mike in his hand trying to get a laugh from the paying customers.

Posted by: beejeez on March 29, 2011 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Cunt is no different than dick. Perhaps I'd be more PC just saying she's a fucking lying asshole (gender neutral) who is a total waste of oxygen.

Cunt still works for me. Sorry.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 29, 2011 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Misogyny is the last acceptable prejudice on the left.
Excusable, easily dismissed, and of course everybody does it, so what's the big deal if you dehumanize a woman.
It's such a fresh new interesting take on human relations, innit? Criminy!

Posted by: thebewilderness on March 29, 2011 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

I was thinking much the same thing IanY77 wrote about -- the anti-Hillary Clinton group...had forgotten it was Citizens United...and if the acronym wasn't bad enough, google images using the original name.

If it was me, though, I'd stick with something like "asshole." Makes the point and is pretty neutral.

Or hey, how about "major league asshole." For once I can at least partially agree with Junior Bush.

Posted by: MichaelF on March 29, 2011 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Maher's a poor test of a liberal's fairness. For one thing, he's not one of us, as he'd be the first to tell you. For another, he's exactly the kind of inflammatory asshole you'd want to chuck out of the club if he were one of us.

Besides, he's an entertainer. Even if his personal politics are what they appear to be on the show (and again, what he shows is nobody's idea of progressive), his first loyalty is to brand-building. He will call the next sufficiently unpopular woman a cunt, liberal or conservative, because he makes his living from notoriety, and saying "cunt" is as effective a way to get it as any.

Posted by: Matt on March 29, 2011 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Benen, you rock. For years, Maher has seemed to me to be someone who has some serious anger issues around the subject of women, i.e., he's seemed to be a man who despises women on some level. It means a lot to see him called out by another man for some of his ugly, ugly comments aimed at women. Oh, and for the record, I still think Bachmann and Palin are shameless, dangerous fools - as is most of the GOP these days, bot men and women.

Posted by: June on March 29, 2011 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Maher has struck me as a smart funny guy with a wicked sense of political humor just this side of over the top aggression. I just did not recognize how much of that hostility takes the form of misogyny but I do not watch him (or tv) regularly. This is way over the top. I hope he is listening, rethinks and apologizes for this. There is no excuse for it.

Posted by: curiousreader on March 29, 2011 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Look both Palin and Bachmann are twits...stupid women who haven't the sense God gave a goose.
As for Newt..I really can't think up a name that suits him since he is lower than pond scum. But yes, I agree with Steve..we shouldn't use such derogatory words for these and other women. If you won't use it to refer to your mom then it is off limits.

Posted by: mishanti2 on March 29, 2011 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this is why I like liberals better than conservatives. At least they make the pretense of being offended at boorish behavior. But on the other hand this remind sof that Lewis Black skit abouit his b eing asked to perform at the national press club dinner. Have you seen my act befor ? Are you fucking kidding me?

Posted by: Gandalf on March 29, 2011 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Maher is not the brightest bulb. He wants headlines as much as Beck or Rush.

But he doesn't have much in the way of astuteness. He seems to me to be a guy who loves scolding the right wing, but in the long run, that means that he also actually loves and depends on them, because he really hasn't got much else.

Posted by: jjm on March 29, 2011 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm perfectly OK with "bimbo" for both Palin and Bachmann. And with "twit", though not "twat" (OTOH, how many non-Brits use "twat"?). "Cunt" makes me uncomfortable; I think it carries much more emotional baggage than "dick" or "prick" for men, on top of which it never seems to have acquired a universally understood meaning, the way "prick" and "dick" have. It signals nothing beyond "derogatory descriptor of a female I do not like". Nothing about the owner's behaviour or mental capability.

As for Maher...I've only ever watched his program once (my husband is a fan) and got very tired very quickly of the foul language. Foul language is a part of of language in general and one should know it. But it works best when used as a spice, not as the main course, at least for adults. It *is* very daring to be potty-mouthed, when one is 12 and has both limited vocabulary and a limited number of options to express one's rebellion. But, after 18 or so... if you use foul language instead of breath-pauses, like commas, what are you going to do when you find yourself in a real fucking shithole?

Posted by: exlibra on March 29, 2011 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Maher not smart--Cmon like him or not he is brilliant. He is funny, knows his historical context, and is always on top of his current events.
I dont like the C word either but at least Bill Maher used it in a comedic context. Unlike Rush and all the other dbags like Hannity,etc. that dish out pure vitriol every day-all day.

Posted by: ron on March 29, 2011 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

I understand your view Steve and normally I would agree. Maher is expressing anger, 100 proof. These women are the enemies of many in this country and have no compunction about lying to gain their ends, and stepping on the heads of people who are suffering as a result of their lies. Compared to this the 'c' word is nothing.

I would not use the words myself, he should not either, but I understand the anger.

Posted by: Doug on March 29, 2011 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

If we are going to commerce in nastiness, let's not conflate cunt with dick. The proper equation of offensiveness is cunt and cock! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 29, 2011 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

If we must associate Palin with female anatomy (and I'm not saying it's so), perhaps we start higher up on the body? Can we agree she's a boob?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 29, 2011 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

i have been saying for years that maher is a misogynist creep. i shuddered whenever liberal blogtopia (and yes, i coined that phrase) swooned over whatever maher said the night before. now hopefully folks won't hold maher in such high regard w/o thinking twice.

Posted by: skippy on March 29, 2011 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Fox is frothing with outrage that Maher won't apologise.

But they were never outraged by "Citizens United, Not Timid".

Why would that be?

Personally, I think "dumb twat" is preferable, and equally applicable to Bachmann or Palin.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on March 29, 2011 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

As a male, I can only take the word of my sisters that this word is offensive. I mean on one level of course it is offensive. It is intended to be an insult after all. But the notion that it is offensive to the entire gender is interesting. As an advocate of free speech and again as a male who has no problem calling someone a dick, I find this somewhat puzzling and logically hard to reconcile. But I will take their word for it. As far as I am concerned, it's their call. I just am in no position to understand what it must be like to have that sort of gender based derision thrown at you. So, I understand that words can be hurtful in for certain people. Intellectually. But I firmly believe that we would all be a lot better off if we could get to a place where we could understand that they really are pretty god damn ineffectual if don't let them get under your skin.

Posted by: SW on March 29, 2011 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

If I call Newt Gingrich a prick, or maintain that Scott Walker has engaged in dickish behavior, am I being sexist? Just wondering.

Sexism and racism are about power: The powerful class using language to help denigrate the powerless class. White men don't use terms that describe their own genitals to control another class.

Posted by: chi res on March 29, 2011 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

Let's face it, the c-word and the n-word are the tricky ones. If you're going to break them out in your standup act you'd better know what you're doing. And without seeing Maher in action, nobody here has any idea what he was doing. But plenty of the comics we know and love use exactly these words every night to make fun of the words' shock value, and not to denigrate women or black people in general.
What can be said is that Maher's a grown-up comedian addressing a grown-up crowd. He's not an NPR talk-radio host, he wasn't doing a "Tonight Show" monologue, and last I heard, he is not the officially approved spokesman for the Democratic Party, liberals, or anybody but Bill Maher.

Posted by: beejeez on March 30, 2011 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Maher's right, if you put the word "ctrazy" before the "c-word" and apply the term not only to that crazy @#$% Palin, but also Michele Bachmann, and every other crazy right wing female moron in the Republican Party.

You have to call a C - - - a C - - - when it isn't derogatory but is the only accurate description available. Which with Republican women, it is.

Posted by: TCinLA on March 30, 2011 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

My problem with cunt is that, as others have already pointed out, it does tend to be a conversation- and dialogue-stopper. It has been used in an extremely derogative fashion. I don't think it's ever been neutral or not considered an insult by the one uttering the word.

I also agree that constant use of such words indicates intellectual laziness or poverty. You hear conversation among guys (mostly) with every other word, almost, being some version of fuck. Living in Tucson, I hear the equivalent among our Spanish-speaking folk. BORING. I do use the word sometimes but I find that it works best used sparingly.

Besides, every time we liberals use such terms, we give the RW ammunition. They'll twist our words anyway, because many of them cannot focus on the big picture and seize on one small point and worry it to death. Or they cannot rise above binary thinking. But scatological and profane language they get. Let's not give them any excuse to derail discussions on irrelevancies.

Can one both be a Stepford Wife and a sociopath? Both of these women have aspects of both in their personalities, although in Palin's case, narcissitic personality disorder seems appropriate. Bachmann is just plain crazy.

Years ago I sang in the chorus in Verdi's Macbeth. Too often libretti translated from one language into another are disastrous. And opera choruses are often stuck with almost meaningless doggerel anyway. But Verdi had a librettist who was a genius. He didn't try to translate Shakespeare's prose literally, but instead he used Italian's natural poetry, and conveyed the gist of Shakespeare just about as well as anyone could.

Anyway, in the famous witch's scene, the chorus gets to sing phrases like "lingua di vipera" (tongue of a snake). I think this is a highly appropriate description of either thankless lady.

If we think about our language a little, we can be much more devastatingly insulting.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on March 30, 2011 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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