One of my favorite Texanisms is: “He looks like he was rode hard and put up wet.” Sure, it’s repeated often but still makes me smile years after I first heard it. Volokh links to Overlawyered, which describes a $450,000 harassment case settled because a man alluded to that old saying in the presence of two women, who apparently had the minds of pubescent students.
Of course, we need fewer lawyers, more of a sense of humor & a lot more common sense from judges. But we also need a livelier language & wider range of allusions. We shouldn’t wonder that kids coming out of the school system in which these two women work lack style. It’s been killed in them. And, frankly, I’m more worried that such decisions bring us closer to 1984 than the NSA/cookies “scandal.”
6 thoughts on “Figurative Language & the State”
Metaphors based on animals are slipping from the language as people lose day-to-day contact with any animals except cats and dogs. To an urbanite, who knows nothing about horses, the phrase probably does sound sexual in nature.
I noticed sometime ago that the writings of most environmentalist are nearly completely devoid of the kind of references to animals such as “stubborn as a mule” which suffused the speech of my grandparents. Most environmentalist are urbanites with little real world experience with either nature or non-pet domestic animals so the traditional sayings based on animals mean nothing to them. They embrace only a distant and therefor easily idealized natural world which leaves no mark on their intellects and speech.
Imagine for a moment that the expression did make sexual allusions. It was not in reference to the women sueing and even if it had been, there was not even the slightest implication that any kind of “performance” [I couldn’t think of a better word] was expected of either woman.
There isn’t even the whiff of any wrong-doing here. If anyone deservers compensation here it is the man who has been defamed.
Putting that up at the same time we were getting bids on our remodeling made me sigh – instead of a mortgage to bind us well into retirement, all I need is to be insulted. Even halved with a lawyer and halved again with a co fragile one, this could pay for a lot of roof raising & plumbing. Of course, it could also have paid for some computers & blackboards and a teacher’s salary or two. This doesn’t make for a very convincing argument that throwing money at education is going to improve it.
Re: Metaphors based on animals. I just ran across another one that is universally misused now: “carrot and stick.” Modern usage misinterprets carrot and stick as opposites, when in fact they were complementary pieces of an apparatus used to trick an obstinate mule into moving.
Is it OK to say that the plaintiffs “worked themselves into a lather” over nothing (extending the same metaphor), or will they sue me?
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