Grammar purists don't like to admit it, but slang is the mitochondria of
language. Slang mitochondria picks up stray DNA from passing viruses
like television shows and skate parks, and while most of it is rejected,
some takes up dormant residence, perhaps to be used several generations
hence. Some becomes an active part of the linguistic organism, the
factor that causes it to evolve.
When I was a kid, English language grammarians wanted us all to speak
like Queen Victoria. Now they want us to speak like EB White. In the
year 2525, they'll want us all to talk like noted cartoon teabagger
“Gangstalicious,” at which point they'll all be lynched and humanity
Most slang comes from the playgrounds. Usually, some ten year old boy
looking to impress his peers comes up with the next massive buzz phrase,
never gets credit, and lives to tell the tale because in two years,
nearly every adult in America is looking for the hide of who ever it was
who came up with the most annoying sound since “Yabadabadoo.”
Words change meaning even when they aren't slang. For instance, in
England, a football is a spherical inflated ball. In America, it looks
like something laid by a giant rabbit with gall bladder problems.
Football is a sport in England, but in America it is a Kabuki piece of
homoerotic bumping and grinding between two packs of steroid queens.
When I was a kid, someone who was “gear” was neat and efficient, and had
their kit all in order. When I was a teenager, a gear was a mindless
bureaucratic sort who was nothing more than a cog in a machine.
Radio and Television try to invent slang in order to appear “hip,”
“gear,” “with it, baby” and so on. Usually this has disastrous results.
You can generally tell that a social fad is dead when it shows up in a
McDonald's commercial. Most contrived slang has the flight
characteristics of a lead sinker. Some catches on and wildfires. In the
early 80s, 23.7% of all American conversation consisted of catch phrases
from “The Fonz.” I can show you figures. In fact, I just did.
Slang is tricky. Last year's praising is next years insult. A lot of
slang is “in crowd” stuff, not known to “the squares, daddio.” That's
why, whenever you are around teenagers, you always sound to yourself
like one of those stiff narrators in 1950s movie reels about social
hygiene. But cheer up: you sound even worse to the kids.
So when adults adopt slang it never works very well. At best, you wind
up a middle-aged matron or businessman who is trying to regain lost
youth, and sounding hopelessly pathetic and clingy in the process.
To get around this, television journalists, who put their integrity on
the line every time they have to sell it, get around this by inventing
their own slang. This is known as “howarding the language,” and should
only be done by a trained professional, or someone whose life is of no
value, such as a football (not the sport football) announcer. They can't
be mocked for the simple reason that nobody knows what the hell they are
talking about. Until one of them calls a black athlete a “monkey,” or
something like that. Even babble can get you in trouble.
This leads us to Faux News. Fox, which is known as “Skye” in the UK and
as “shit” everywhere else, has decided they are not about to be
out-Limbotted (TM), and are trying to position themselves as moral and
intellectual leaders of the American right. Why anyone would want to
bother is perhaps best left for another, less serious essay.
So Faux has been pressing the notion that the Obama tax cut is actually
a gigantic tax increase, and that the people who will benefit from the
tax cut should rise up and rebel against such tyranny. Because they
wanted to sound patriotic while doing this, they started comparing it to
the Boston Tea Party.
It was actually an apt allusion. A lot of people think the Boston Tea
Party was a rebellion over a tax increase, when in fact the tax in
question was being lowered.
That's where Faux ran into the vagaries of using slang. In order to make
it sound hip and not dated, instead of calling it “a tea party,” they
decided to call it a“teabagging.”
OK, there's really no delicate way of putting this, not that I could be
bothered trying: teabagging, in certain bars and over most of the
internet, means taking one's testicles and rubbing them up against
someone else's face in a salacious manner (as if there is any other way
of performing such an action), or placing such objects in the other
person's mouth, which takes a certain element of trust. The other person
does not necessarily have to have a pair of testicles with which to
Like “milf,” a term which got widespread attention when McCain selected
Sarah Palin as his running mate (before it was revealed that she was
batshit crazy, thus making her a miwwtf), “teabagging” was well enough
known to a large enough segment of the population (basically, anyone who
has ever viewed porn on the internet) that it could wildfire when thrust
(so to speak) into the public arena.
So when someone told me that Rush Limbaugh would be teabagging in
Sacramento, my response was to blink and ask, “ALL of Sacramento?” Well,
no, just the people who want to be tea bagged by Rush Limbaugh.
Well. That shouldn't take more than a few minutes. I wondered what Rush
might do with the rest of his lunch hour. But then, given what he was
already doing, I probably didn't want to know.
When the Tea Bagging was announced, there were scattered giggles, which
swelled to a roar of laughter as the joke spread. Over at the Huffington
Post, someone made up a video that purported to be a harried looking
event organizer who explained that they had to go ahead with the Tea
Bagging Parties because all the flyers had been printed up already and
they couldn't get their money back. He promised they would have better
luck at a future event, to be known as “Finger Banger Day.”
Tea Bagging Day will be on April 15th, of course. Maybe it'll turn out
that this was Johnny “Wadd” Holmes' birthday. That would be fun. I'm
wondering if guys wearing leather buttless chaps will show up at some of
them. And how many will be on first name bases with Rush Limbaugh and
Sean Hannity. I always wondered about those guys. Is Jeff Gannon going
to be participating? How about George W. Bush? Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove?
I'm pretty sure the colonists never had this problem. Some people
opposed revolting against the Crown, and so they probably reviled the
Boston Tea Party radicals. Those who understood what was actually going
on probably felt the same way that most Americans feel about the
over-privileged and self-indulgent swine who are putting on the phony
“tax revolt,” supposedly on behalf of “the people,” but actually on
behalf of the 2% in the highest income bracket who will see their taxes
restored to 2002 levels. But nobody laughed in Boston – of course,
Boston isn't a very jocular place. That might have changed history,
since a political movement that is laughed at by the public is deader
than H. Ross Perot's political future.
That the propaganda channel for the GOP would put on this astroturf
travesty in hopes of getting hundreds of millions of people to sacrifice
tax cuts in order to protect that 2% who wouldn't even be inconvenienced
was a joke in and of itself.
But it took the genius of people trying to use slang to appeal to the
masses to turn the entire event into a mass joke, and for that, we
should be grateful.
And Faux News can go back to doing what they've been doing for years.
They can resume teabagging their viewers.
April 15, 2009