Kryponite and garlic

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 4 01:10:04 UTC 2010

At 5:49 PM -0500 1/3/10, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On Sun, Jan 3, 2010 at 5:37 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>  > At 9:29 AM -0500 1/3/10, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>  >>A man was invited to a new friend's house for drinks.  When he
>>  >>arrived, he noticed strings of garlic hung at the door and all the
>>  >>windows, and asked his host why he had put them up.  His host
>>  >>replied, to keep out the elephants.  "G'wan!  Vampires maybe, but
>>  >>garlic wouldn't deter elephants."  His host replied, "Well, have you
>>  >>seen any elephants around _my_ house?"
>>  So, *that's* what "the elephant joke" is! I've read and, perhaps, even
>>  heard, this expression for dekkids, without having the foggiest.
>Well, it's *an* elephant joke. I don't think the joke cycle has a
>single ur-joke.
Curiously, the relevant one isn't mentioned in this entry, unless I
missed it.  Here's one version, close to the ones Joel and I were
Former officials of the Bush Administration and its defenders respond
to criticism of its torture policies (or as they are wont to call
them "enhanced interrogation") by invariably claiming as
justification that no attacks have occurred since 9/11. That
contention reminds me of the old joke about the New York woman who
sends her husband to the psychiatrist because he is always snapping
his fingers. When the psychiatrist asks him why he constantly snaps
his fingers, he says: "To keep the elephants away." The psychiatrist
responds by saying that there are no elephants in New York. Whereupon
the patient responds: "See it is working!" The Bush Administration
tortured; there were no further attacks; ergo, according to them,
torture works!

Many other variants can be found by googling "keep the elephants
away" + "it works"


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