Lynching redux

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Aug 2 17:54:18 UTC 2005

>  > Thomas called it a "high-tech lynching".  I wouldn't agree he
>>  was justified in the usage, which I considered to be an
>>  insult to the memory of all those who were actually lynched
>>  in the usual low-tech way.
>Do you make the general assertion that if a figurative usage is of less
>significance than the literal usage, it demeans the literal usage?

Not particularly.  I don't disapprove of metaphor or figurative
language and have even been known to use it on occasion.  What I
didn't like was Clarence Thomas using the phrase to deliberately and
misleadingly bring in racism as a motive for objecting to his
nomination, and for that matter to accuse his questioners of being
unfair, which (as I watched the proceedings) I don't think they were.
If Anita Hill had accused her enemies (in particular the senator who
claimed she was "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty", not to
mention that guy Brock who wrote the hatchet book (_The Real Anita
Hill_, or something like that) attempting to destroy her and then
recanted afterward, of a high-tech lynching I wouldn't have batted an
eye.  But of course she never would have done so.


>If I say, "Laurence, you're killing me with your posts," have I insulted
>people who have really been killed?
>If the Sierra Club says that the Bush administration is raping the
>environment, what about people who've really been raped?  Have they got
>a legitimate beef with the Sierra Club?
>I don't know exactly where I stand on this, I'm just asking you to
>expand on your opinion.

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