(Canadian) shit-disturbers

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Sep 21 15:01:24 UTC 2012

I noticed this opener for an article in the Halifax Chronicle Herald (31 August 2012) when I was up there a little while ago:

People don't recognize Evan Brown anymore. One of Canada's most famous activist shit disturbers and protagonist of the August 2000 pieing of then-prime minister Jean Chretien at the Charlottestown Civic Center during Old Home Week, he lives in a relative anonymity in Halifax working as a theatre technician.

What struck me was 
(1) the apparent status of "shit disturber" (or perhaps "activist shit disturber") as a term of art for, essentially, 'gadfly'
(2) the appearance of this phrase in the kind of newspaper in which I would not expect it to appear in the U.S. 

Googling for it, I find that indeed it is a Canadianism, as least insofar as its usage status of "vulgar [but] not thought offensive enough to be considered taboo"

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shit+disturber (quoting Collins English Dictionary)

shit disturber
— n
informal  ( Canadian ) a person who enjoys causing controversy or upsetting people
usage: Although considered vulgar, this phrase [sic] is nonetheless commonly used and is generally not thought offensive enough to be considered taboo
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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