"astroturf" as euphemism?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Aug 9 18:37:28 UTC 2009

At 2:11 PM -0400 8/9/09, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>At 8/9/2009 12:50 PM, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:
>>On Sun, Aug 09, 2009 at 12:05:27PM -0400, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>>  From a posting by Patricia Murphy at the "Politics Daily" blog,
>>>  regarding the national health care "debate":
>>>  I always thought "astroturf" in the political sense, as in "astroturf
>>>  campaign", "astroturf movement", etc., was a clever coinage to refer
>>>  to (what are represented by the speaker, and here the Speaker, as)
>>>  faux-grass-roots efforts on behalf of a position or a candidate, but
>>>  if it's a euphemism I'm not sure what it's a euphemism for, and whose
>>>  feelings are being spared by its use.
>>So your problem here is with Pelosi's use of "euphemism",
>>rather than "Astroturf"?
>I think it's not Pelosi, but the article writer, who used "emphemism."

I think "emphemism" represents a separate category of circumlocution,
as when someone's smoking-induced respiratory disease is referred to
as "a lung disorder", perhaps to avoid offense to the tobacco
industry corporate public relations guys...

>But I think there's some justification for calling "astroturf" a
>euphemism.  Calling the activity, more bluntly, "a corporate public
>relations campaign disguised to look like a grass roots citizen
>movement" (see Larry's original post) might offend some -- such as
>the corporate public relations guys.
...who I doubt Pelosi would be reluctant to offend.  I think it's
more likely a...what's the technical term?  ah, sloppy use of


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