In this insane political environment in which we find ourselves after the horrible tragedy in Tucson last Saturday, we have renewed calls from various officials, pundits, journalists, and even lawmakers floating ludicrous proposals to ‘tone down the rhetoric,’ ‘tamp down the vitriol,’ and change the political climate; all by creating new laws and regulations regarding speech, certain words in general, and, yes, even symbols.
So I’ve taken the time to give them some example of this “vitriolic rhetoric” and how they’re used in our everyday conversations, so the new Speech Police will be able to more easily recognize these inflammatory terms and phrases when they’re encountered.
Yes, this list is ridiculously long, but the wailing and gnashing of teeth, sweating of brow, and fretting over such terms and phrases is just as ridiculous; not necessarily in length but in breadth of insanity.
So, here we go. These are the things that we may no longer be able to say, and phrases we may no longer be able to use (in print or orally) once the Speech Police have gotten their way.
We can no longer shoot the breeze, take a stab at trying something new, tell someone their perfume is killing you, poison the well of the moment, or tear into a bag of chips.
We cannot call people hostage takers, shoot from the hip, address a target audience, shoot down ideas, fire off a nasty email, eviscerate the competition, do battle with an opponent, or war-game a business plan. You cannot tell an actor to break a leg, we can’t combat an illness, assault someone’s character, grapple with the facts, verbally joust with a co-worker, make a show of force with your team, whip someone into shape (or a frenzy), go for someone’s jugular, say someone mutilated the English language, and whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you successfully executed a plan.
No longer will we be able to circle the wagons, put another arrow in your quiver, and encourage someone to hit you with their best shot, even if you are playing a sport. We can’t say we’re going to take someone out, whether it is on a date or as an opponent in a sport. Locked and loaded? Fat chance, even if you just mean you’re fully prepared and ready for a meeting with the boss. Nor can you say you’re ready for bear.
You can’t call anyone a left-wing or a right-wing bomb-thrower, and no matter where you meet to discuss any plans for anything, it can’t be called a war room. You can’t use focus groups, especially if you’re using a target audience. And be careful should you debate on the battlefield of ideas. I don’t think you’ll be able to say that anymore, either.
We can’t say citizens are ready to march on Washington with pitchforks and torches, we can’t say we’re putting the screws to anyone, and we dare not fire a shot across the bow! No more lighting a fuse, even if we’re referring to our professional team members, preparing them for a business challenge. And we can’t be trigger-happy, even if it means we’re so confident we have the best idea to present to the boss in a meeting.
Be very careful if you encounter problems – you cannot say you are prepared to tackle them, and no matter how tough you are, you can’t say you’re ready for slings and arrows from any competitors. Oh, and speaking and bosses and work, be careful not to say you’ve punched your time card – that sounds dangerous. And you dare not say you are war-gaming your new business strategy.
Also avoid saying you’re going to win or die trying, as it might frighten someone into thinking you might want to commit suicide. If you know someone who’s pitching a bad idea, no matter how much you dislike him, don’t tell your best friend it’s best to let the guy hang himself. If he does, you never know…you might get the guy committed.
Have to tackle a tough issue? Don’t ever say there’s more than one way to skin a cat, otherwise you’re likely to have PETA at your door, whether or not there is an actual cat in the room. Don’t tell anyone you have secrets that you’ll take to your grave, because, as I stated above…you know, the suicide thing?
Never tell an opponent, business or otherwise, that you’ll bury them. Sounds mean! If you go to a comedy club, don’t ever say the comic slayed you because your friend will look at you in disbelief, because you’re obviously still alive. Have you seen a great movie that blew you away? Oops! Don’t say that, either.
If you ever have a friend or co-worker who is doing a great job, never ever tell him that he’s right on target. Otherwise, passersby might think he’s put a hit out on someone. And no matter how well he succeeds, don’t let him say he slaughtered the competition. The same passersby may report him to the authorities.
For the ladies, you can’t say you’ve set a trap for a man, can’t tell him he’s a knock-out, ask him if that’s a pistol in his pocket, say he looks dynamite, or his outfit is “the bomb.” You can’t hit him where it hurts, tell your girlfriend he bowled you over, or tell her you may have another cute guy in your sights! If you do, your other man might crucify you; even though you drew first blood when you let your eyes wander.
We can’t call those black birds a murder of crows, shop at a store’s inventory liquidation sale, tell someone their comments cut you both ways, reveal a friend got smashed last night, go to a poetry slam, or aim for the top. You can’t tell someone they’re a dead ringer for someone else, say you’re dead broke, be on the war-path, hijack a conversation, throw a bash, or bury the hatchet with a friend. Don’t ever say someone went ballistic, never threaten to smack someone into next week, or say you’ll die if you eat one more piece of pie.
Oh, and we’ll have to change the name of a few TV shows:
Funny or Die
Ways to Die
The Carnivore Chronicles
Consider this a primer for the Speech Police should they come for us.