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September 07, 2008

Comments

I think Stephen Colbert beat this commenter to the punch on Friday. It was really funny.

If you guys didn't see the Daily Show and Colbert Report on Friday, they were the most brutal episodes of the week. Especially the Daily Show. They completely eviscerated McCain.

jeez, i hope they recorded that call...

Yeah, but Colbert did it with a recycled bit. It would have been great if he or Stewart had done the call, though I'm not sure how Colbert would do the last punchline.

Absolutely right about the two shows, though I'd put Stewart over Colbert because the convention seemed like such a parody that Colbert couldn't do as much as Stewart could. In fact, that they replayed the whole Westermoreland interview kind of underlines that, and the McCain 'ready from day 1/I don't know could have been dropped in the Daily show without any problem.

I also think that the reporters asking about what small town values meant absolutely killed.

My god that's a thing of beauty. Is it true?

aimai

It would be interesting (but obviously impossible) to see what the response would have been if the caller had left out the cracker line and stopped after "call a spade a spade".

I also think that the reporters asking about what small town values meant absolutely killed.

Yeah it was funny, but on some level also pretty nauseating. I mean, it was on-camera confirmation that "small town values" was code for a lot of people for "we just flat-out hate gays".

I'm just trying to wrap my head around hilzoy using the term 'pwned'.

Related, check out this nifty meme timeline.

"and stopped after "call a spade a spade"."

I'm pretty sure this is a reference to correctly identifying playing cards.

BTW, I'd been kind of vaguely aware of Georgians being referred to as "crackers", but harboring no negative opinion of thin, crisp biscuits, it never occurred to me that it was a slur. Timely to find that out, since I've just moved south.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracker_(pejorative)>Inquiring minds may wonder...

It's interesting that "cracker" might be related to "craic" (pron. "crack"; used in Ireland to mean, roughly, fun, good times, party time).

I went to Ireland the year the World Cup was in the US. In the Aer Lingus magazine there was a list of tips intended to elucidate cultural differences for Irish travelers coming over for the World Cup. One tip was a caution not to say, "Where's the craic?".....

Yes, "all that its cracked up to be" is another example of the gaelic version. A book that was titled "all the crack" in Ireland had to be renamed to be sold in the US. However, I think given the historic fact that most gaelic speakers didn't wind up down south "cracker" must have some other meaning when applied to southern whites. I'm going for small, crispy biscuit because that seems the most friendly and I sure want to be as friendly and as down home as I can be when talking to our southern bretheren.

aimai

Yes, "all that its cracked up to be" is another example of the gaelic version. A book that was titled "all the crack" in Ireland had to be renamed to be sold in the US. However, I think given the historic fact that most gaelic speakers didn't wind up down south "cracker" must have some other meaning when applied to southern whites. I'm going for small, crispy biscuit because that seems the most friendly and I sure want to be as friendly and as down home as I can be when talking to our southern bretheren.

aimai

I never thought that the category of biscuits was large enough to include crackers, but I guess it's possible. Especially if you go with the British usage, which is larger from what I recall.

I am mildly upset that it is becoming unacceptable to say "call a spade a spade" or to use the term "niggardly" because although I am given to understand that the etymology of each is innocent, and that neither the phrase in question nor the term in question has been used frequently to express racism, both sound like racial epithets.

Not very upset, just mildly.

Yes, I remember being asked, while registering at Univ. College Cork some years ago, "Do you like craic?" and being startled that drug pushing could be so out in the open in Ireland.

WT, I like Mark Twain's formulation:

"Let us call a spade a spade, instead of coldly symbolizing it as a snow-shovel."

--TP

The original spelling of the word was "crack" not so long ago - "craic" is a modern adoption, backformatted to look more Erse, while not actually being so. "We've had a good crack" used to mean "We've had a good time swapping gossip/news" and could as easily (more easily) take place over cups of tea as mugs of beer.

I think "craic" got more widely adopted than it deserved because Irish bars get everywhere (I've even had lunch in one in Brussels) and the confusion between crack and crack probably wasn't always obvious by context to American tourists... ;-)

Is "cracker" a racist term?

I don't know. Let's ask Chris Rock.

"Cracker" is a pretty ugly term, but as a middle-aged, white Southerner, my approach is simply never to behave in a way that earns such a label. Most of the folks I've heard called crackers in recent years, frankly, deserved it.

As for Westmoreland's original, "uppity" remark -- no, it's just not plausible he was unaware or the racist context of the term. I suspect the term is ENTIRELY within his personal, unguarded linguistic comfort zone, but that's why his use of it is so telling, no?

It was my impression that the "spade a spade" line originally referred to over-educated elitist-types calling the tool a "digging implement", or something similar. The idea being that the speaker was busy showing off their erudition, and possibly obfuscating, instead of speaking plain English.

As for cracker, down here in Atlanta the minor league baseball team for years was the Atlanta Crackers, with no protests or claims of offensiveness. These days the amount of offense given/taken seems to be proportional to the distance (social, educational, geographical) that the speaker is from actually being a "cracker", as well as the context, tone of voice, etc.

I've always assumed that "cracker" was derived from "cracker barrel", as in "sitting around the cracker barrel" and "cracker barrel philosopher." And I've always heard it used insultingly except when being adopted by its usual targets, much like "redneck".

Calling a spade a spade, though.... No problem with that one, though I can remember vividly the day in 1968 or '69 when a fellow hipster informed me that, where he hung out, "spade" for "black person" was definitely verboten, while it had been definitely acceptable across race lines not that long before.

It's really a pretty unpleasant word. As several commenters on Bookman's article point out, the adjective "uppity" is usually followed by "n*****."

I'm really surprised that the Fla Repub Women haven't called Oprah "uppity" yet.

Or maybe they have and I missed it.

On a related subject, my daughter's boyfriend is from the south. If I ever called him a "cracker" (which I have no reason ever to do) he'd get up and leave the room, and she'd probably follow.

I'm really surprised that the Fla Repub Women haven't called Oprah "uppity" yet.

Or maybe they have and I missed it.

On a related subject, my daughter's boyfriend is from the south. If I ever called him a "cracker" (which I have no reason ever to do) he'd get up and leave the room, and she'd probably follow.

As to spades being digging implements, I'm reminded of a tale from the early days of the discipline of ecology. Yes, there was a time when "ecology" was not faddish pseudo-scientific jargon for "conservation and stuff" but simply referred to a scientific discipline (as it still does). Not that it was itself jargon-free, and that's the point. It was much less developed in those days, and much less quantitative (as all biology was), and it tended to lean on making fancy definitions for fancy terms. So, one of the leaders in the 20s or so said that an ecologist was a man who not afraid to call a spade a geotome.

BTW, http://books.google.com/books?id=MoXJnuaoDTwC&pg=RA1-PA25&lpg=RA1-PA25&dq=geotome&source=web&ots=31vIMrYyiJ&sig=rMYtSNs_bjaNhit2DgFVIbJA5Cg&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result
which I would not call a spade.

I wish one could still use 'queer' to refer to non sex/gender things w/o seeming like a homophobe.

Meanwhile, it's annoying to lose a useful word like niggardly, which in fact is absolutely 130% pure and free from badness o origin. On a rational basis, it would be as wrong to object to it as to "handicapped" -- though actually not as idiotic. Or "picnic", and if you don't know about that one, feel lucky.

Trouble is, our brains do not function as pure reasoning machines which read a sentence into a cache and then analyze it on purely logical lines. You hear stuff as it's said. An entire phoneme can be zapped from a recording, and in the right context you'll hear a pop or buzz that replaced it, and still hear the sound that has been entirely removed. That's how the brain works, like it or not.

Decent people have a visceral reaction against some words, and especially against what Anne Herbert calls "killing words", those meant to be screamed out while killing someone. It's a fact, and if you don't like it you can go f*ck yourself. ("But we're gonna f*ck you sloooow") So, in conversation, unexpectedly but quite who does not start to have a nasty visceral reaction before the end of the word gets to the brain is deficient in some way; let us hope that it's in the hearing or the fast processing of speech. (This really applies primarily or only to Americans.) So you don't say it, out of courtesy to hearers regardless of race.

And if you do say it, you'd better not look as if you're smirking, or you'll deserve the punch you're likely to get in the gut when someone of African ancestry decides that you really are trying to be real cute and clever about delivering the worst of slurs.

And then there are grossly ignorant people who think it really is a slur. That's bad; would we could correct that' but already we've established why it's better to kiss the word goodbye for use in spoken English. Or American.

Has anyone happened to mention that Typekey sucks?

So, in conversation, unexpectedly but quite properly, you may use "niggardly"; and anyone who does not start to have a nasty visceral reaction before the end of the word gets to the brain is deficient in some way; let us hope that it's in the hearing or the fast processing of speech. (This really applies primarily or only to Americans.)

>>On a rational basis, it would be as wrong to object to it as to "handicapped" -- though actually not as idiotic. Or "picnic", and if you don't know about that one, feel lucky.

According to Snopes, the ugly "picnic" etymology is bogus:

http://www.snopes.com/language/offense/picnic.asp

sorry about the double post. didn't do it on purpose.

double post here, phantom non-post at another site.

:::sigh::: teh intarwebs am can confuse an old guy.

sorry about the double post. didn't do it on purpose.

double post here, phantom non-post at another site.

:::sigh::: teh intarwebs am can confuse an old guy.

I'm tempted to send a box of Saltines to Rep. Westmoreland's office. Kind of a "sweets for the sweet" thing, you know? Only I'd probably be visited by the FBI afterward.

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