23 Monday May 2016
I put aside ten years of political blogging early this year to focus on long deferred writing projects. The hours and the years are getting shorter. But, damn! It’s hard not to notice when catastrophe is taking place right outside the window.
As a word-person, I’ve been most struck (worried) about the tide of contemptuous insults rising over previous benchmarks in the U.S., wondering if they are nearing the extremes of pre-genocidal warning (you know, dog, rat, leech, cockroach, cancer, virus.) I didn’t have the heart to do my own survey but here’s an interesting one from not a year ago from the Oxford Dictionary blog, Nov 2014: “What are the most common American Political insults?”
This is pre-Trump of course but post Newt Gingrich. And though raw numbers aren’t given there is certainly an equal opportunity cast to the attitudes on display. Two very interesting charts will give you a quick idea. It’s not as ugly as it could get, but it ain’t pretty either.
Click on chart or title link to see other chart and the article.
Words can be are used to bring people together, and to keep them apart. Often, with words like these, at the same time. Like metaphysical masons we use such words to build walls, defining our turf and theirs. Growing in numbers, and in our walled-in perception of our strength, and their contemptibility, we turn the bricks into weapons, hurling them, later to be set aflame, laced with powder and fragments meant to maim and kill.
These samples are from two years ago, before the political fracturing happening today. I wonder what such seismographs would tell us now?