(Canadian) shit-disturbers

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Fri Sep 21 15:11:07 UTC 2012

Possibly an allusion to the proverb "If you stir shit, you raise a stink"?


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Laurence Horn [laurence.horn at YALE.EDU]
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 11:01 AM

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=20
(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.=20

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
=97 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

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