I’ve never given much thought to nomenclature, preferring instead to pay attention to ideas. However, I’m struck by both the valiant attempts by many Tea Partiers in recent weeks to quash the effectiveness of the term “teabaggers” by “taking it back,” as well as the ridiculous arguments proffered by their opponents in support of it’s incessant use.
Understandably, the Tea Partiers find the term “teabaggers” patently offensive, and have made repeated requests of their opponents to divest themselves of the term. It appears that for the most part, those requests have been refused, citing the infinitely juvenile argument that it was the Tea Party itself that initially used the term.
Assuming, arguendo, that the Tea Party did, indeed at one time referred to itself thusly, for their opponents to insist upon using a term the former finds repellant based solely upon this argument is laughable at best, and deliberately disingeuous at worst.
To illustrate, while it may at one time have been considered acceptable and appropriate to refer to African-Americans as “colored,” even amongst themselves, we now know that not to be so, given that they associate that particular label with a particularly dark time in this country’s history.
By that same logic, the Tea Partiers, regardless of when or why they at one time found the term acceptable, now rightly ask that they not be referred to as “teabaggers,” given that they associate the term with a particularly graphic sex act.
Hence, I fail to understand the argument of some that usage of a term in reference to a group of individuals against their explicit wishes should continue unabated, based solely on the argument that a few early participants, obviously ignorant as to the term’s more unsavory etymology, once wrote it on a sign. While I do not presume to know what would motivate someone to continue calling another a name they know full well incites feelings of disgust, it does seem reasonable that there exists in the opposition to the Tea Party an element that is fully aware of the effect the term has, and rather than debate them on the merits, finds far more satisfaction in inciting conflict.
Ergo, the continued use of the term by those in opposition to the Tea Party on the grounds that “they said it first” is simply too ridiculous to defend. Furthermore, to claim such an argument is to assert that because some urban African-American males refer to each other as “nigger,” all of us are entitled to refer to them thusly.
Now, while I am a staunch believer in the inalienable right to free speech (as well as the fact that you most certainly do not have the right to be sheltered from offense), I am also a rational individual living in a society where it is in my interest to respect others. Hence, I do not make a habit out of deliberately insulting people I disagree with. That is not to say I haven’t on occasion given voice to a sentiment better kept to myself, but I can honestly say that the last time I went in search of someone else’s buttons in order to push them until they cried was elementary school.
In the simplest of terms, it seems the very people who believe they know best how to govern us are themselves petulant children, whose only response to ideas they can’t refute is to stick out their tongues.
How on earth did we ever lose to these people?
Finally, given the above, I have to question the efficacy of the “teabagging since 177-whenever” video, and other such attempts to neutralize the left’s tactics. It is quite a compelling video, to be sure. However, the Tea Partiers were quite adamant about the term’s offensiveness, so to suddenly embrace the term from a historical and patriotic perspective is not likely to succeed given that it has the appearance of insincerity given the degree of their earlier umbrage.
But more importantly, it is almost certainly a waste of time to mention history and patriotism to a group of people viscerally appalled by such notions.