THE #1 INTERNET BLOG  4:35 pm July 16, 2012

National Review’s Style Guide Apparently Takes No Issue With ‘Wetbacks’

by Jim Newell

Look at this wetbackNational Review famously maintains a roster of aging white nationalists to blab about the non-white aspects of American society in disparaging tones. This is not of my white ’50s culture, they write, and we must stop it. But usually they’ll at least work with sanitized think-tanky buzzwords to describe their pure belief that non-whites are ruining the country. Thoughts on “assimilation,” for example, always add a nice distance to the thing at hand. And yet today, there’s Jay Nordlinger, just stone cold typin’ “wetbacks” as a direct substitute for illegal immigrants, and my god how has this not been changed yet?

It was Nordlinger’s shift on the Reagan Desk this morning, just wanking away as usual about whatever, Ronald Reagan and stuff, and we’re going along reading his article, and it’s fine, okay, fine, and then HA HA UMM WHY DOES IT SAY WETBACKS?

During the 1980s, Tip O’Neill and other liberals said, “We were hoping that Reagan would grow in office, but he hasn’t grown at all.” What they meant was, he had not shed his small-government principles and his hawkish views. He had not accepted the post-LBJ state, and détente. He had not learned to love Big Brother. He was still clinging to guns and religion, so to speak. He was as provincial, blinkered, and right-wing as ever.

Truth is, some conservatives lamented that he had indeed “grown” in office. He had gone out of his way to accommodate liberals and moderates, and to accommodate the Kremlin. He was raising taxes, spending like crazy, welcoming wetbacks, pursuing arms control. One common cry from the right was, “None of this would be happening if Ronald Reagan were alive.”

It seems he’s writing “in the voice of ’80s conservatives,” like that was their mainstream line at the time, “welcoming wetbacks.” (It’s sort of funny how much shit you could still say in public in the 1980s.) And of course, the Reagan Foot Soldiers were all really racist. Ronald Reagan was a racist person too.

But even some sort of historical use of “welcoming wetbacks” to describe the popular vernacular of the time doesn’t work well alongside “raising taxes,” “spending like crazy,” and “pursuing arms control,” which are all basic ways of describing policies. How did they say these things in the ’80s, Jay Nordlinger? “Spending at the rapid pace of rich young starlet Madonna,” for example, was a common line. “Pursuing arms control, the arms being from the Cold War, which is still happening because we are in the ’80s,” was another bit of hip lingo. “MTVing taxes.” MTV was in the ’80s and they would just say “MTVing” to describe any action, so entranced were they with the new music video channel. Anyway, Jay, we’re just throwing out a few suggestions, because you look like an asshole right now.

[The Corner via Gawker]

 
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actor212 July 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I cut the guy some slack¹. I can only begin to imagine the shitstorm he went through with a name like "Nordlinger".

¹#Notintendedasafactualstatement

Crank_Tango July 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

You know who else wanted to cut guys with names like Nordlinger some slack..

Spurning Beer July 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Edward Scissorhands?

actor212 July 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Lt. Drebben?

OneDollarJuana July 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Mack the Knife?

Callyson July 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Kathy Griffin? (She'll cut a bitch…)

Tundra Grifter July 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Don't wear a pledge pin around him!

Mittens Howell, III July 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

The shitstorm he went through is known colloquially as 'being nordlefingered'.

*shudder*

actor212 July 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

That happened to me once when I tried bungee jumping. It made me hit my head on the bridge.

Negropolis July 17, 2012 at 2:50 am

Nordlinger is so very German. You know what other German had a problem with racial minorities?

freakishlywrong July 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I prefer wetbacks to whitefucks.

Preacher_Griz July 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm

the correct way to address such vermin is freeloading wetbacks

OzoneTom July 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm

He looks kinda messican. Is he here on the Guest Worker program?

Jus_Wonderin July 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Here in the South polite folk say they glisten.

Negropolis July 17, 2012 at 2:51 am

I had a classmate tell me that girls don't sweet, they glisten. Ergo, all females are Mexicans.

SexySmurf July 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm

It seems he’s writing “in the voice of ’80s conservatives”

In Soviet Russia, wetbacks welcome you.

va_real July 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

It's not racism if it's alliterative!

KeepFnThatChicken July 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Even by a stretch, that's not an alliterative. Gotta have three "we-"'s to count.

va_real July 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Never heard that rule?

marrcus July 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

NR stands for Not Racist, you guys.

Crank_Tango July 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I dunno, I see nothing wrong with bareback.

Also, and slightly OT, but does anyone know how to work the wonket iphone site? can you comment on there? is there a "too soon!" macro? etc.?

Texan_Bulldog July 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Wonkette takes FOREVER to download on any i-Product, but I hear they are working on it. I just come to Wonkette on my PC.

actor212 July 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Well, at least that's not as sticky as the keyboard…

Fare la Volpe July 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Look down at the bottom of the page for Mobile and Original tabs. The Original tab opens up comments, but it takes a minute to load.

GunToting[Redacted] July 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Yeah, the Touch (or whatever the fuck it is called) is a PITA.

mrpuma2u July 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Jinkies Scoob! In the 15 seconds remaining before they throw this tool under the bus, I eagerly await his lame esplaining to do. "Uh I meant greenbacks, when the Raygun raised taxes, yeah that's the ticket"

ASHLEIGH_Joe July 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

He clearly meant Lobsterbacks, because of Reagan's warm relations with Maggie Thatcher.

And lobsters live in the water, which is how he got "wet". Clearly.

Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

He meant all the Canadian frostbacks rushing over the border to snap up those professor jobs.* They come south, the frost melts,….

*[But nobody points out that these jobs are crummy ones in research areas that Americans don't want to do. Like, you know, descriptive set theory.]

ASHLEIGH_Joe July 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Borel Libel!

Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Look, it's called Polish topology for a reason, which is that all its best practitioners are Greek.*

[Well, I didn't say it was a good reason.]

*Warning: My knowledge of these things is way behind the times, 'cause I stopped doing this kind of stuff soon after finishing my thesis.

Nothingisamiss July 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm

You're an optomist. I say they promote him.

SorosBot July 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm

The NR has been throwing out at least some of the people who've been getting overtly racist lately; which has been happening a lot as having a black President has lead a lot of them to become unhinged and forget to speak in code.

BloviateMe July 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Easy, Nordlinger, some of my best friends are beaners.

kittensdontlie July 17, 2012 at 10:55 am

Everyone I've ever met has been great people. They get into trouble only when they become Americanized.

kingofmeh July 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

the reagan administration also was very pro-affirmative action, as seen by the way james watt bragged he had "a black, a woman, two Jews, and a cripple."

Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Ah, yes, and let's not forget loveable jokester Earl Butz, who was so reflective concerning the hopes and life ambitions of African-Americans.

fuflans July 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm

that sounds like one of blago's press conferences.

UnholyMoses July 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

It seems he’s writing “in the voice of ’80s though now conservatives."

Fixorated

silvershoes July 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

If you look in the comments, people are noting that the website won't even let you use that word in the comments. It screens it out.

MissTaken July 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Not A Racist 'Bobby Zimmerman' says it's A-OK to call illegal immigrants 'wetbacks'. Because he's Not A Racist.

Bobby Zimmerman
07/16/12 11:15

It looks to me like Mr. Nordlinger used the w-word to be ironic. In the context of the other examples in that sentence, that's how it looks to me. Nothing offensive about it in this instance–and for the record, because I have a feeling that replies to this comment will be loaded with accusations of racism, I am not a racist.

actor212 July 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Did Bobby work with blahs? Did he direct an episode of "The Wayans Bros"?

ASHLEIGH_Joe July 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

In other meanings-of-words news, Bobby Zimmerman seems to have some trouble with the meaning of the word "ironic".

MissTaken July 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Can we give a lesson to the world what the word 'ironic' actually means?

To say 'wetback' when referring to illegal immigrants is not ironic.
To say 'I'm not a racist' when you obviously are is ironic.

ASHLEIGH_Joe July 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I believe that's what's know as dramatic irony, as the actor believes and says one thing (that Nardlinguerer's not a racist), whereas we, in the audience, are aware that this is not true.

SorosBot July 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm

To say I'm not a racist" when you are famous for being a giant vile violent racist is extra-ironic, now known as one of the biggest racists in the country, is extra-ironic.

OneDollarJuana July 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Also, "honesty".

UnholyMoses July 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Ironic: A word that doesn't mean what Zimmerman thinks it means.

Hell, it's a word that, much like "literally," is used incorrectly about 98% of the time, so not sure I should expect some NROian to use it correctly.

MissTaken July 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm

My ears literally bleed when someone misunderestimates irony.

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I could care less about it.

A lot less.

Spurning Beer July 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

NERDLINGER!

smokefilledroommate July 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

TURDFLINGER!

va_real July 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm

He's the Man, the Man with the whitest touch…

actor212 July 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

His touch is old…

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

He loves only whites,
Ooooonly whites
He loves whites!

ASHLEIGH_Joe July 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Nard-linguer.

Butch_Wagstaff July 16, 2012 at 6:30 pm

NERF HERDER!

sbj1964 July 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Mittens dad was kind of like a mexican.But Mitt decided stealing hub caps was to much work so he went for stealing peoples dreams,and shipping them to Mexico.

UnholyMoses July 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Nordlinger forgot "selling advanced missile technology to our mortal enemies in order to fund Central American death squads" in the list of Reagan's, um, "accomplishments."

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Also too, "Running the most corrupt administration in US history"

UnholyMoses July 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Well, yeah, but Reagan didn't recall any of it.

bikerlaureate July 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm

The Steve Martin defense?

mrpuma2u July 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm

But the Contras were the "moral equivalent of our founding fathers" which was news to me back then, as who knew so many of our founding fathers were ex national guard dirty tricks thugs.

ProgressiveInga July 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Is Scott Baio an editor at National Review now?

SorosBot July 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm

He's in charge of their days and their nights; Baio's in charge of their wrongs and their rights…

Chill_Bill July 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

I hope those "wetbacks" at McDonalds are spitting on his Big Macs.

Butch_Wagstaff July 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Never piss off the people makin' yr fud.

littlebigdaddy July 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Is this a setup for a Carlos Mencia joke? If so, it's not funny, like all the rest of them.

CalamityJames July 17, 2012 at 1:08 am

It's been around for a while, but I've only just recently stumbled across the video of Joe Rogan (I hate him) going off on Mencia (REALLY hate him), on stage, in the middle of the wetback's set. Completely brilliant. I'd post a linky, but I'm probably the only 90-year-old 30-year-old in existence and I just don't know how. Needless to say, if you're going to steal someone else's jokes, at least have the balls to admit it before some douchebag turns your entire audience against you.

BaldarTFlagass July 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

The joke's on him: the Rio Grande (original source of the water that made the back wet) dried up years ago.

smokefilledroommate July 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

So technically the slur should now be "brownback"?

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Well, that is very offensive, so it works on that front.

coolhandnuke July 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Double your wetback humor, double your wetback fun…we've also stopped the Colorado River from ever reaching the Gulf of California.

Estproph July 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

How could he be racist? He talked about Reagan WELCOMING wetbacks! How is welcoming racist?

SayItWithWookies July 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Has Nordlinger apologized yet if anyone was offended because he used the simple practice of calling a spade a spade and we're only allowed to be sissies anymore? Because that's how I see him apologizing for this.

Hey, you know what other word doesn't mean what it used to mean? Apologize. Nowadays people apologize for their bigoted statements the same way my brother and I used to apologize if we wanted to get smacked again.

anniegetyerfun July 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm

"If anyone was offended, they should be mad at the federal government, headed by a known Negro, that allows these taco-eaters in to begin with."

Is how I see it going.

gullywompr July 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Superman where are you now?

SorosBot July 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Superman's an illegal immigrant; go back to Krypton!

gullywompr July 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm

That was bait to see how many Reagan-era MTV addicts we have here.

Doloras July 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm

One of only two good songs written by the post-Peter Gabriel Genesis. (The other one is “Home By The Sea”.)

doloras July 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm

One of the few good songs written by the post-Peter Gabriel Genesis. (Note to up-and-coming bands: do not I REPEAT do NOT let the drummer become lead singer even if he sounds just like the old one.)

gullywompr July 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I dunno, worked pretty well for Rare Earth….

Tundra Grifter July 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm

On the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie's birth, let's remember a great song he wrote about people coming to the US to work – and the risks they take to try to make a better life for themselves.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/altlatino/2010/08/17/129

BloviateMe July 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

A young Mexican kid was bored, so he splashed some flour across his face. He went and showed his mother, who promptly slapped him across the face. "Go and show your father what you did," she screamed. He went to his father, who also smacked him, and yelled "go show your grandmother what you've done!"
So he hesitantly walked up to his grandmother, who also slapped him across the face, and asked "what have you learned?!"
He answered, "I've only been white for 5 minutes, and I already hate Mexicans."

redarmyzombie July 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm

You forgot the part where he yells "Mommy, mommy, I'm a Guero!"

SoBeach July 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm

It’s sort of funny how much shit you could still say in public in the 1980s.

Yeah, we could still call guys like Nordlinger "peckerhead".

Hammiepants July 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I love it when the Right's racism REALLY manifests itself literally. Not that it's not patently obvious all the time.

Jus_Wonderin July 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I get your point. But I am left screaming "ITS the 21st CENTURY!!!!!"

Hammiepants July 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Not to them. To them it's always about 1958 – or at least they wish it was.

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Not the real 1958, of course, the Republicon fantasy 1958 where the Republican President wasn't embarking on massive public infrastructure projects, union membership wasn't significantly higher than today, and the top marginal rate of personal taxation wasn't 91%.

Fare la Volpe July 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Also too, black people never agitated for silly things like "rights."

Hammiepants July 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm

No, their 1958 is the one where the blahs and messicans knew their place (picking something, somewhere), women kept their mouths shut, the cookie jar full and their legs spread, there was no gey because OMFG, gey, are you KIDDING me, and everyone in charge was white and wanged.

LetUsBray July 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Except when they're wishing it was 1862.

JustPixelz July 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

America is the people who show up. Get used to it.

Rosie_Scenario July 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Not another photo/ item on K-Lo!!!11!! Oops, just another NR/ NRO "writer."

SmutBoffin July 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

He was writing in the voice of Gary Busey's character in DC Cab (1983).

Mittens Howell, III July 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

There goes me again, just stone cold typin’ “Herpe Slurpers” as a direct substitute for Republicans

edgydrifter July 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

True fact*: Reagan's assistants had to remove all the Mexican jellybeans from the crystal bowl on his desk when they refilled it each morning.

*not intended to be a factual statement

Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Stands to reason. Couldn't have them jumping around during cabinet meetings.

smokefilledroommate July 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm

eating a burrito.

Lionel[redacted]Esq July 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I'm waiting for the next hard hitting piece from NRO on Reagan. After all, not only did he welcome wetbacks, but Sammy Davis Jr. was a personal friend of his, so clearly he was a nigger lover.

Fare la Volpe July 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm

In the Reagan white house, the kikes were always welcome to try the ham at the Christmas dinner.

Limeylizzie July 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I have always called myself a "featherback" because I flew here.

Fare la Volpe July 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I thought it was because you fell from heaven.

Limeylizzie July 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

How do you get your clothes on over your wings?

Fare la Volpe July 16, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Who says I wear clothes…

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm

It's been a while, so I don't remember how Mr Pye did it.

ASHLEIGH_Joe July 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm
WhatTheHeck July 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Wot? You didn’t come on the Mayflower?

An_Outhouse July 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Are your arms tired?

Texan_Bulldog July 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Calm down, everyone. He's just trying to be cool–like when a white person says the N word, and we all know how well that goes over.

UnholyMoses July 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm

As a white guy who literally* has quite a few black friends, I can assure you that is still not allowed.

Trust me. I asked. Apparently, us white folks lost our n-word privileges for some reason. Can't imagine why …

(* Used in the correct sense of the word, not the not-at-all-actually-literal sense of it.)

LetUsBray July 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm

After which they complain bitterly about how the Politically Correct crowd are the real racists.

mavenmaven July 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

since so many of their writers and readers are self hating restroom action barebacks…

JackObin July 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I'd pay to see a wetback twist that little pussy into a pretzel. We could bring back "Firing Line" and do it live.

An_Outhouse July 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm

"One common cry from the right was, “None of this would be happening if Ronald Reagan were alive.”"

That makes no sense, Reagan was technically still alive then. Maybe they were referring to Reagan's brain.

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I guess it could have been a joke that he'd been killed and replaced with an Invasion of the Body Snatchers style pod-person, thus explaining his general lack of adherence to anything he ever said he stood for.

iburl July 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm

The (White) National(ist) Review strikes again.

SorosBot July 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

"He had not learned to love Big Brother:

Uh, dipshit, he had learned to love Big Brother; 1984 told of a fascist, far-right society of the kind Reagan was trying to bring about. Idiot.

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Well, to be fair, 1984 was inspired by Stalin, but of the two parties, it's pretty fucking obvious which one wants state intrusion into our most private moments, and it sure as fuck ain't the Democrats.

CarolinaStewPie July 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Nerdlinger needs a Wayback machine, then he can say 'Welcoming Wetbacks' all he wants! Here's a fun one with Sherman and Mr. Peabody on the origins of the Iranian hostage crisis, Saddam, and the Taliban. He'd probably call those guys 'Camel Jockeys'. Besides, Welcoming Wetbacks from the Wayback is just plain fun to say!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpgJzlY9y8A

sezme July 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm

White America, what, nothin' better to do?
Why don't you kick yourself out? You're an immigrant too.
-Jack White

Negropolis July 17, 2012 at 3:01 am

Well, Jack White was born and raised in Detroit proper, so they consider him an honorary blah, anyway.

succalina July 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Stop it, you guys! There was an actual US gov program called "Operation Wetback". Since Uncle Sam could use the term, its totally fine. FINE! Move along, nothing to see here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Wetback

BitterKlingon July 17, 2012 at 1:25 am

I hate Nordlinger more than anyone else from National Review because he's a pretentious ass who calls his column "Impromptus" like he's Frederic Fucking Chopin.

Negropolis July 17, 2012 at 2:47 am

He only did this in the service of poetry. "Welcoming wetbacks" is so alliterative.

It's funny when they let their freak-flag fly, and by funny, I mean completely sad and pathetic.

ttommyunger July 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Face it, how could you have a mug like his and not be a total dick?

MissTaken July 16, 2012 at 5:08 pm

For reals, that is my biggest pet peave. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

GunToting[Redacted] July 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Don't you mean "Alot less?"

ASHLEIGH_Joe July 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

For me, it's using "begs the question" to mean "invites the question"[which is then asked] instead of "presupposes the proposition you are purporting to argue for".

Drives me up a wall, and I hear it all the time.

Aside to Chet:
And now that you know this, don't get any ideas, because I've got a "should of" right here with your name on it. And I'm not afraid to post it.

kittensdontlie July 17, 2012 at 10:49 am

I learned all I know about irony from Alanis Morissette so I will abstain from commenting.

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Hmm, interesting, I'm pretty sure even BBC Radio 4 almost invariably gets that one wrong, to the point I wasn't even aware of the correct usage.

sezme July 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Same difference, for all intensive porpoises.

sezme July 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

You know who else wasn't a racist…

GunToting[Redacted] July 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Me?

redarmyzombie July 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Frederick Nietzsche?

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

For obvious reasons, this makes me think "I told you not to take the axiom of choice".

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

No.

Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Thanks for the link. The "invites the question" use is so widespread that it's crowding out the standard use, that's true. But the suggestion that "only a few pedants know it" is overstated, and backing that opinion up by referring to two wiki-style online dictionaries is silly. It's a phrase used for adjudicating arguments that has been used by lawyers, rhetoricians and logicians (in various languages) for around 2000 years. It's a useful phrase, because there's no other quick way to say "presupposes the proposition meant to be argued" in English but that, whereas there are lots of ways to say "invites the question" ("suggests the question, "leads to the question",…)
So the language would be dumbed down if we let it go.

I'd be very surprised if Websters, New American Dictionary, OED, etc. had anything but the [if I may say] "correct" definition listed first, and the other listed as a mistaken usage or not listed at all. 'Course, I may be wrong, as I don't have the time to look it up just now, and I may be just one of those pedants.

GunToting[Redacted] July 16, 2012 at 6:13 pm
Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Holy crap! That's amazing. I'd never seen that before.

It's not every day you see a joke involving the Banach-Tarski* Paradox.

*Both from back in the days when people who did Polish topology were Poles, dammit!**

**And not simple Poles either.

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm

"Assumes the premise" seems like a reasonably concise alternative to the correct meaning. Only one additional syllable.

The Free Dictionary's results include the following from Collins:

beg the question
a. to evade the issue
b. to assume the thing under examination as proved
c. to suggest that a question needs to be asked the firm's success begs the question: why aren't more companies doing the same?

Usage: The use of beg the question to mean that a question needs to be asked is considered by some people to be incorrect

Nice weasel words at the end there!

Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Well, the premises are what you're allowed to assume, so that won't quite do, but "begging the conclusion" comes close. It loses the implication, important to the analysis specifically of rhetoric rather than the logical analysis of argument, that this is a topic that has been posed for debate, or is for other reasons currently conversationally salient.

I understand, of course, that lexicographers are informal empirical scientists: they have the descriptive job of recording usage as it occurs, in the speech and writing of speakers. But they also play a normative role in stabilizing the language. English doesn't have anything like the French Academy, so it needs other devices to give a reference standard for usage. In practice dictionaries serve that function.

Ah, but what the heck. Why not go descriptive. Given that "could care less" seems to have overtaken "couldn't care less" on the lips of the great mass of speakers, and "can not" is pulling ahead of "cannot",… etc. if someone is willing to grant that "couldn't care less" is no more correct ( or 'correct') than "could care less", then I'll not argue about "begging the question".

BoatOfVelociraptors July 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I like the way you rock that blow-hole.

BoatOfVelociraptors July 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Close yer tags!

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Good point, and "assumes the proposition" is more of a mouthful.

There comes a point where even the most determined lexicographer has to accept that usage has overtaken old rules – even Fowler's Modern English Usage sometimes admits defeat.

I'm still not ready to stop rankling at "could care less". On the issue of cannot, I can not care about that, and indeed I choose to exercise that ability not to care, in large part because "can't" is more common than either.

bobbert July 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Perhaps it's the exception that "proves" the rule?

sullivanst July 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Grr. I did, but IntenseDebate unclosed them. It appears to be extraordinarily fussy about which characters it allows in URLs, that one didn't even have spaces (which I've discovered you have to reencode from + to %20, despite the specs being quite clear that + is OK). Maybe it's just in a mood with me, that one still doesn't work if I encode the -s as %2ds, and I don't see any other nonalphas that don't need to be preserved.

bobbert July 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I don't know if you mean you'd never seen that particular strip, or never seen xkcd, but it is a thing on the internet that is actually worth the average time spent.

Chichikovovich July 16, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Ben oui I've seen xkcd. But my reading is kind of hit or miss, so a lot of good stuff from there comes as news to me.—

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