drink the kool-aid (1982, 1985)
bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Aug 14 01:14:44 UTC 2010
On Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 5:25 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> At 4:49 PM -0400 8/13/10, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> >Good one. What's interesting about the 1981 and 1982 cites is that
> >they're both of the form "drink the kool-aid of X," where X is
> >something that the speaker feels we're being brainwashed into
> >accepting unthinkingly (nuclear power, environmental pollution). That
> >strikes me as slightly different from the "obedience or loyalty" sense
> >captured in the OED def.
> Very slightly, in that the original version where X = Jonestown is
> understood could be interpreted in just this way--drinking the
> kool-aid of Jonestown (or drink the Jonestown kool-aid) would refer
> to the whole gestalt, demonstrating unquestioning loyalty to the
> ideals of Jim Jones and the Jonestown community. Then it's just a
> question of what you substitute for Jonestown as the value of X.
But the '81-82 exx don't quite work this way: the posited kool-aid
drinkers aren't demonstrating unquestioning loyalty to nuclear power
or environmental pollution -- they're just indoctrinated into thinking
these things are OK. Or perhaps the idea is that nuclear power (or
whatever) is the cyanide that will kill you, masked by the sweetness
of political rhetoric?
(Wikipedia points out that the Jonestowners drank Flavor-Aid, not
> >On Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 4:29 PM, Sam Clements <SClements at neo.rr.com> wrote:
> >> A slightly earlier cite using newspaperarchive. (Allen Ginsberg speaking at
> >> Gettysburg College)
> >> 20 February 1981 _Gettysburg(PA) Times_ Front page, col. 1
> >> "We are all being put in the place of the citizens of Jonestown, being told
> >> by our leaders to drink the Kool Aid of nuclear power."
> >> At least, I hope this is the same meaning.
> >> ----- Original Message -----
> >> From: "Benjamin Zimmer" <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> >>> OED3 dates "drink the kool-aid" ('to demonstrate unquestioning
> >>> obedience or loyalty') to 1987. Here it is from 1982, metaphorically
> >>> extended from the Jonestown massacre:
> >>> ---
> >>> 1982 John Caris _Reality Inspector_ 112 Did contemporary society now
> >>> have a leakage problem; was it losing its survival consciousness; was
> >>> it attempting a global Jonestown incident? How long would people
> >>> continue to drink the kool-ade of environmental pollution and
> >>> tranquilized thinking?
> >>> http://books.google.com/books?id=wlcMzrtP0c4C&pg=PA112
> >>> ---
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