THE MOTHER TONGUE REVISITED

Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court Justice, is a man who has his head in the sand.  He insists that the law is what was written in 1776 – 1789 without any improvements to the law or the language.  You may recall that Scalia is the person who gave us George W. Bush when the hanging chad controversy in Florida took place.  I hold a thoroughly different view from Justice Scalia.  I hold that the mother tongue is a living instrument of continual improvement.  Some of these so-called “improvements” are worthless.  But nonetheless they are offered in the hope of improving the language.  What we have here as the Presidential campaign of 2012 starts are three new phrases or words that are of totally dubious quality.  I think that in the future, these three words or phrases will be pointed to as examples of outrageous thoughts.

The three phrases are “self deport,” “retroactive retirement,” and “legitimate rape.”  At this juncture, I do not intend to get into the arguments that are associated with these three phrases.  I am merely citing them because they are new words, they are interesting words, and they are outrageous words.

 

Let us start at the beginning.  There is a word or phrase that Mitt Romney, the Republican contender in this year’s election, has used very often but not recently.  The word he used is “self deport.”  I suppose that means that an unwelcome guest in this country will go down to the airline office and buy a ticket back to his home country.  This summer we were having the outside of the house painted by a fellow who came from Costa Rica.  When he was hired to do the job, I overlooked the fact that Manuel did not have solid footing in this country.  As a matter of fact, the Feds seemed to be on him to leave this country by August 1st, which was a fact that we did not know.  Eventually we got the house painted, even with rain delays and Manny taking days off to get his wife and children back to Costa Rica.  So I assumed that when Manny bought his ticket to go home, he was among the “self-deported” people in this great country.

To the best of my knowledge, the only person who ever used that phrase was Mitt Romney.  Upon examination, I am forced to tell you that I don’t understand what that phrase really means.  It is a phrase that could now be included as an addition to the mother tongue.  I think that Romney in the beginning had the impression that all of the twelve million illegal immigrants in this country could be encouraged to “self deport.”  But recently Romney has not used that word at all.  Be that as it may, we now have the word or phrase, “self deport.”  Questions about exactly what that means should be directed not at me but at Mitt Romney.

 

The second phrase is “retroactive retirement.”  This is another mystifying phrase that came from the lips of Mitt Romney.  What it means is that Bain Capital, the firm that Romney started, listed him as President, CEO, founder, and whole-hearted inspiration after he retired.  Three years after he quit going to work, his letterhead and his business cards and all of the other documents state that he was the owner of these titles.  If any questions came up about the actions of Bain Capital, Mr. Romney claimed that he had retroactively retired.

Now I am baffled by this term.  There was a time when fellow Republicans joined Romney in saying that he had “retroactively retired.”  But that lasted only a day or two.  They must have been struck by the silliness or the impossibility that goes with retroactively retiring.  But the fact is that the Romney campaign has given us “retroactive retirement” and “self deport.”  These are certainly not stellar additions to the mother tongue.  As a working wordsmith, it is my duty to report them to my great audience.

 

The final word is “legitimate rape.”  It is a word that comes to you from a Congressman from the state of Missouri who is running to unseat the female who is currently a Senator from Missouri.

Now what does “legitimate rape” imply?  Does it suggest such things are legitimate?  What about legitimate murder?  And how about legitimate stealing?

All of this comes to you through the efforts of Todd Akin, the congressman from Missouri who is trying to unseat the incumbent Senator.  At the beginning of this debate, Todd Akin was asked the following question about exceptions for rape in the stance that he was taking.  His answer follows: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare.  If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.  Let’s assume that that didn’t work or something.  I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to go to the rapist and not to the child.”

It is generous of Todd Akin to say that the punishment should go to the rapist and not to the child.  All of us appreciate his generosity.  What about the woman, and who is to raise the child?  What we have here is a new term of “legitimate rape.”  As most of you know, I am 90 years of age and I have been around the block two or three times.  In the first place, “legitimate rape” is an oxymoron.  Second, it is absolutely stupid.  For Todd Akin to have used those words must make it clear how stupid he was and is.

On the second day after the controversy broke, Akin said he “misspoke.”  That is absolute horse manure of the rankest sort.  What he had to say was in accordance with the Republican lore on women.  They want men to control women’s bodies.  What balderdash.  They want men to call all the shots.  That is simply not the way it should be done.  Perhaps the only saving grace is that Akin did not claim that he was taken out of context.  That is a pretty weak reed to lean his case on.

This is being dictated on Tuesday morning, August 21st.  At the moment, the Republican Party is in great disarray.  High muckety mucks in the Republican Party are calling Akin to get him to resign.  Akin has until 6 PM tonight to withdraw his candidacy for being a Senator from Missouri.  As I dictate these lines, it is now before noon.  Nonetheless, I am beginning to pray that Akin does not resign and stays on the Republican ticket.  I am joined in that prayer by the incumbent, Claire McCaskill.  I fully realize that as a non-believer in religious affairs, it is unbecoming for me to pray.  But in this case of legitimate rape, I hope that Todd Akin stands his ground and is roundly defeated by the female incumbent Senator.

It is now 3:15 PM on Tuesday with Akin working against a 6 o’clock deadline to withdraw.  So far my prayers, such as they are, have been answered.  Akin is staying in the race, it says here.  If this nut case finally proceeds to the election, I will say that the power of prayer is overwhelming.

 

So there you have three new additions to the mother tongue. They are “self deport,” “retroactive retirement,” and “legitimate rape.”  My guess is that in future political campaigns, those quotations will come out of the closet and will be used for a number of years.  When it comes to “legitimate rape,” every decent human being should be revolted by that thought.  But that is what the man said.  He is a Representative in the House and he is a graduate of a Presbyterian divinity school.  What must this tell you about the divinity school?

So I am dictating this essay as a means of passing time until 5PM central daylight time in the fond hope that Todd Akin stays in the race to run against Claire McCaskill, the current Senator.

Six o’clock came and went and Todd Akin says he is remaining in the race.  He also tried to issue a sort of apology. Todd Akin’s past attempts at an apology did not sit well with the author of Ezra’s Essays.  I suppose that Todd Akin will seek God’s help in his campaign to be a Senator.  More than anything else, Todd Akin has advanced the cause of religious non-belief and women’s rights.  To Todd Akin and all of his followers, I would say only the following thought, “On with the rat killing.”  I look forward to the morning of November 7th and Todd Akin’s complete defeat.

Miss Chicka says, “Todd Akin is what you get when you teach creationism instead of biology and evolution.”

 

I agree with Miss Chicka.

 

E. E. CARR

August 21, 2012

Essay 686

 

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Kevin’s commentary:

It would appear the recent trend with Pop’s essays is that they are getting longer. This is a nice summary piece though, and ties together pieces of a few separate essays like “Language according to Mitt Romney” (currently unpublished), Retiring Retroactively, and Reflections on the Wahhabi.

As far as I know, as of the publication of this post, Akin has still not retired from the race. He hasn’t even retroactively retired. He’s just hanging in there, getting ready to lose rather hard. I’m kinda looking forward to that.

 

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