Sunday, April 3, 2011

Reclaiming our Words: Language as a Weapon (updated)

Update 1: The Irony Faceplant - in my zeal to get this out, I forgot to go back and substitute Tea Partier for Teabilly. Whoops!

The Teabillies Tea Partiers like to hurl epithets at their opponents and intellectual superiors in an effort to lay claim to these words as insults or negative in connotation.  They intentionally mis-identify political parties in a childish attempt to enrage and enflame passions in their opponents (classic widespread one is the intentional use of the term "Democrat Party").  As noted in Wikipedia, the term "Democrat Party"goes back quite a long time, but it's more recent incarnation is at the hands of the ever-immature GOP.
Following his inauguration in 2001, President George W. Bush often used the noun-as-adjective when referring to the opposition party. Likewise, it has been used by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senator Charles Grassley, Congressman Steve Buyer, and other Republicans. In 2006, Ruth Marcus, a columnist for The Washington Post, noted that "[t]he derisive use of 'Democrat' in this way was a Bush staple during the recent campaign", and she chastised Bush, alleging he was being intentionally offensive. Marcus went on to say the argument about the term was "trivial, sticks-and-stones [...] linguistic bickering".

But maturity is not the strong suit of the Teabillies Tea Partiers. So it's not surprising to see them continue to use these childish "linguistic bickering" tactics in public forums like Facebook or Twitter.

But I digress.  Back to the question at hand.  I think it's high-time that we on the left reclaim the monikers that make us what we are, be we liberal, progressive or socialist.  The right likes to hurl these words as epithetical hand grenades, but they're easy to diffuse if you simply accept them as complements.

Here are some examples of these hand grenades tossed into my Twitter timeline

and my favorite one of all time

If Trumka is travelling to the USSR, then that means he must have a time machine.  A Delorean perhaps?

The Trumka Time Machine!
In each case, these were attempts to cut of dialog with what the Teabillies Tea Partiers regard as the ultimate insult.  The atomic bomb of the argument.  A hurled epithet ends all discussion.  This is especially important to the Teabillies Tea Partiers because the simply do not have any facts to muster in defense of their talking points.  They need tactics like these to extricate themselves from their verbal predicament.  So, like any good sophist, they prefer to rely on cheap debating points rather than facts to win a debate.  This is why engaging with the hard-core Teabillies Tea Partiers is ultimately a futile exercise.

Much like a homophobe calling someone "queer" or "fag," they simply assume that their own bigotry and bias is shared by their opponents.  Therefore, in their minds,  the discussion is over and they've won.  As if calling someone who is a self-identified socialist or liberal a socialist or a liberal is insulting.  It's quite amusing.

So, my fellow liberal progressive socialist communists, fight for your right to Party with the Party of your choice and wear the epithets as badges of honor!

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