[Ads-l] circular firing squad

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 13 10:31:35 EDT 2017


Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> Nice, Garson.
>
> The specificity of "reform Democrats" suggests to me that the circular
> concept had already been around.
>
> But if it had been for very long, I think we'd see evidence of so clever an
> idea.

Thanks, JL. Below is a later instance from 1972. The quip is spoken by
a columnist's version of Santa Claus:

Date: December 2, 1972
Newspaper: The Pocono Record
Newspaper Location: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Article: Up Milford way: Jolly ole elf by Norman B. Lehde
Quote Page 3, Column 1,
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin except]
"Are you planning any special gifts in the county this year?"
"Yes, I intend to give all the Democratic leaders bulletproof vests so
they won't suffer so many casualties when they stand in a circle for
their firing squad exercises."
[End excerpt]

In 1967 a ceremonial firing squad formed a circle after shooting.
There was no humor because the squad was employed for commemoration
and not execution.

Date: May 31, 1967
Newspaper: Shenandoah Evening Herald
Newspaper Location: Shenandoah, Pennsylvania
Article: Memorial Service Conducted at Mine
Quote Page 8, Column 5
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
The Legionnaires were led by George Motil, commander, and Joseph
Fureda, chaplain. After a gun salute the Taps were sounded by John A.
Vozar, who has been doing this chore on Memorial Day for about 50
years. He is observing his 74th birthday today. The color guard and
firing squad formed a circle at the grave where a granite stone was
marked: "Hail Mary--Holy Mary. Louis J. Bova 1909-1963."
[End excerpt]

Garson




> On Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 12:54 AM, Neal Whitman <nwhitman at ameritech.net>
> wrote:
>
>> Here's one from November 1978 that refers to an "Aggie firing squad" (the
>> first term I heard for it):
>>
>> http://www.w5nor.org/ce/Low-Res/1978-09.pdf
>>
>> Neal
>>
>> > On Jul 12, 2017, at 11:18 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
>> adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>> >
>> > Great work, JL and Bill. Here is a slightly earlier instance of the idea.
>> >
>> > Date: June 28, 1972
>> > Newspaper: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
>> > Newspaper Location: St. Louis, Missouri
>> > Article: Thorny Issues Sidestepped In Pro-McGovern Platform
>> > Author: Lawrence E. Taylor (A Washington Correspondent of the
>> Post-Dispatch)
>> > Quote Page 2A, Column 1
>> > Database: Newspapers.com
>> >
>> > [Begin excerpt]
>> > In short, as one committee member put it, "We refuted the joke that
>> > when reform Democrats are told to organize a firing squad they stand
>> > in a circle."
>> > [End excerpt]
>> >
>> > Garson
>> >
>> > On Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 10:49 AM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY
>> > RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:
>> >> _Las Vegas [NM] Daily Optic_ Mar 23 1973 p 2 col 1 [Newspapers.com,
>> Newspaperarchive.com]
>> >> "It is imperative that if we do not integrate we must -- at the least
>> -- synchronize our lives; otherwise we will form a circular firing squad in
>> which members of the squad will kill all that is worthwhile within the
>> circle  as well as themselves  in the crossfire."
>> >>
>> >> Newspapers.com has "firing squad in a circle" from 1975
>> >> Newspaperarchive.com has "Polish firing squad in a circle" from
>> 11/17/1973.
>> >>
>> >>> Not yet in OED.
>> >>>
>> >>> GB claims a 1983 ex., but I can't verify it.
>> >>>
>> >>> [1983 Allan Fotheringham _Look Ma - No Hands: An Affectionate Look at
>> Our Wonderful Tories__ [Toronto: Key Porter] 89: There is no
>> >>> discipline, no cohesion, merely a collection of individuals who march
>> (out-of-step) to drummers hidden in the hills, beckoning the faithful to
>> >>> form a firing squad in a circle.]
>> >>>
>> >>> 1984 David G. Broder, in _Plain Dealer_ [Cleveland] (Jan. 19) 38:
>> Democrats form circular firing squad....Up here, it looked like the
>> >>> Democrats were going back to their old habit of lining up the firing
>> squad in a circle.
>> >>>
>> >>> The first time I encountered the concept was ca1977-78, during the fad
>> for "Polish jokes." It was something like, "Where does a Polish firing
>> >>> squad put the condemned man? In the middle of the circle."
>> >>>
>> >>> GB has a similar joke (with "Polish firing squad") from 1979.
>> >>>
>> >>> JL
>> >>
>> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> >> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> >
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------
>> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list