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Faux News Pas
If the colonists had teabagged King George, would history be different?

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
April 11, 2009

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 will evolve.

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. Hopelessly lame.

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 reciprocate.

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.

Posted: April 15, 2009

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