An Open Letter to the Oxford University Press

Timothy Barton
President, OUP USA
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016 U.S.A.
Phone: 212-726-6000

Dear Mr. Barton,

I am writing this letter as a formal complaint. It has come to my attention that the New Oxford American Dictionary has defined the term “teabagger” as “a person who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773).” I believe this definition is in error and must be corrected if the New Oxford American Dictionary is going to continue in the “Oxford Tradition” as the “Definitive Record of the English Language.”

The verb “to teabag” is a sexual act that involves oral stimulation of the male genitalia, the details of which I will not describe here except to say that what one does with a tea bag in a cup of water is highly descriptive. This term was later adopted by participants in multiplayer First Person Shooter games, who would, after defeating an opponent, have their on-screen character kneel over the head of their opponent’s virtual corpse to simulate the sexual act as an act of domination over the vanquished foe.

The term came into wide-spread use in political circles after several Leftist media pundits, commentators and anchors used it to describe large masses of “Tea Party” protestors who had gathered to protest the comparatively high income taxes in the United States. These protesters were upset about the massive increases in government spending that had occurred for the previous three decades and the even larger increases that occurred in 2009 alone. The protestors, while largely conservatives and libertarians, were from all economic strata and all ethnicities, despite claims by some in the media to the contrary. While some of the protests were co-opted by local and national political figures, most were grass-roots protests organized by individuals and small groups, not political parties or political action committees, as some in the media also claimed. While Fox News Channel anchors and commentators did talk about the protests and their editorialists promoted them, the Fox News Channel itself was not behind them.

Further, the protests were not specifically against President Obama (though he was indeed a focal point, as all presidents are), but rather against the mass of wasteful spending coming out of Washington, no matter who was responsible for the excesses. These were no more protests of Barack Obama himself than were the World Trade Organization protests specifically directed at George W. Bush: As with so many of these protests, the President becomes a symbol, regardless of his level of personal involvement or approval. Indeed the anger that led the protests stemmed as equally from the TARP bailout of large banks, signed under President Bush, as from the “stimulus plan” enacted under President Obama.

The terms “Tea Party Protesters” and “Tea Partiers” are the accurate descriptors of this protest group, however these words were and are a mouthful, and are far too neutral for many Leftist pundits to accept. Hence, these pundits took on the term “Teabagger” to derisively describe the protesters. Most of the protesters, being unaware of the sexual domination origin of the term, accepted the term; Sean Hannity, a well-known proponent of the Tea Party movement, has used it on his show, and other conservative and libertarian leaders, commentators and editorialists have used it.

Many like myself realized immediately that this was a thinly disguised derogation. As my friend and blogger has noted, the sarcastic humor of the Leftist writers and broadcasters is clearly evident once the origin of the term is known.

Essentially, the term “teabagger” is no different than other racial, ethnic or political derogatory words that would have anyone in the blogsphere exiled from mainstream blogs; words that would have columnists lose their syndication and talkers lose their broadcast license. No one would accept it if one were to have referred to the Million Man March as “A bunch of angry n—–s,” or to the immigration amnesty supporters as “sp–s;” yet “teabagger” is accepted by the media, politicians and now the New Oxford American Dictionary as merely a harmless descriptive term.

When the Oxford English Dictionary accepts this term so quickly, so readily and without close scrutiny as to its actual meaning and its crude, disrespectful origins, it debases the Oxford University Press and it demeans all those who believe that large, overbearing and over spending governments are anathema to freedom, liberty and prosperity. At the very least, the term “Teabagger” should be classified as a colloquialism and a derogatory of the actual terms, “Tea Party Protestor” or “Tea Partier.”


Fred Maidment
Editor, Seeking Liberty (a WordPress blog)
Contributor, The Minority Report Blog
Diarist, RedState.com

Cross-posted at The Minority Report Blog and Seeking Liberty.