Is Evel Knievel a Pimp?

Wed Feb 2 21:27:21 UTC 2005

        No, it apparently was from a textual discussion.  See the fourth paragraph below.

        <<The term "Boss of Bosses" does not appear in standard dictionaries. To the extent that it has a literal meaning, the term means something akin to "the supervisor of supervisors." The literal meaning of the term, then, is not defamatory.

        To people of ordinary intelligence, the term could have at least two other meanings. One, that of a "political boss," is not defamatory; the other, meaning "mob boss" or "Mafia don," could be defamatory. Thus, the question becomes whether the term "Boss of Bosses" fairly implies that Senator Lynch was the head of the Mafia. In concluding that the statement could not be so read, the Appellate Division reasoned that the statement was not subject to verification. Even if the statement were verifiable, we conclude that taken in context it would not be defamatory.

        The alleged facts in the advertisement--that Senator Lynch has been "a partner or officer in three mob-owned companies" and has "mobsters" as "business partners" and "clients"--suggest a connection to organized crime. These "facts," however, do not support the assertion that Senator Lynch is the "boss of bosses" of the Mafia.

        The "Boss of Bosses" appellation appeared in a paid advertisement during the course of a heated political campaign in which both sides engaged in mudslinging. We conclude that a reader of ordinary intelligence would not believe that Senator Lynch was the head of the leading crime family in New York. See Mob Speak Glossary in 1 Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang 29, 29-30 (J.E. Lighter ed., 1994) ("While no one proclaims himself the Boss of Bosses anymore, the press awards this title to whomever they feel is the boss of the strongest of the five Families of New York, who is also said to preside over Commission meetings."). Rather, the reader would understand the statement to be hyperbole and name-calling emanating from a rough-and-tumble political campaign.>>

        The citing case is Lynch v. New Jersey Education Association, 161 N.J. 152, 170 - 71, 735 A.2d 1129, 1138 - 39 (N.J. July 27, 1999).

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Jesse Sheidlower
Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2005 3:51 PM
Subject: Re: Is Evel Knievel a Pimp?

On Wed, Feb 02, 2005 at 03:45:58PM -0500, Baker, John wrote:
>         Jon's been cited before, for (in chronological
> order) "goombah," "Boss of Bosses," "jack," "cap," "blood,"
> "jack-off," "bull," "no-show," and, in the Knievel case,
> "kick it," "hardcore," and "hottie."  If Jon or anyone else
> needs copies or cites, let me know, on-list or off-list as
> appropriate.

Since "Boss of Bosses" (and, for that matter, "capo di tutti
capi") does not appear in HDAS, I'm curious to know how Jon
was cited for this. Was HDAS cited to show its lack of entry
for this term?

Jesse Sheidlower

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