[Ads-l] circular firing squad

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Thu Jul 13 04:54:12 UTC 2017

Here's one from November 1978 that refers to an "Aggie firing squad" (the first term I heard for it):



> 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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list