Monday, April 02, 2012

Without getting to caught up in the arguments at Crooked Timber over old roomie's book, I'll say that Farrell's behavior here reminds me of his performance in Greenwald vs. Kerr. For that, begin here. Gabriel Rossman, judging from past experience, is an idiot. I'll repost his two comments from the earlier thread.
I follow politics pretty closely but I’ve never heard or understood it to be a slur or dog whistle to omit the last syllable of “Democratic.” Rather it seems like just a clumsy malapropism and when I hear it I think “the speaker is tongue-tied” not “the Democrats are un-American.” Honestly, this semantic distinction as the dramaturgical reveal seems like grasping at straws.

[responding to Rich Yeselson]
I’m genuinely surprised that this rather petty semantic distinction is so well-established among the talk radio types. I’m going to fall back on saying that it’s a not terribly effective rhetorical trope and that many people who hear it probably interpret it as I did, which is as a malapropism rather than a deliberate slur (albeit a mild one as political insults go). However that doesn’t matter for your thesis which is that it is revealing that Romney adopts this shibboleth to affirm allegiance to movement conservatives. We can agree on this issue and its relevance to your dramaturgical take, even if we bracket the question of whether the rhetorical device registers with and/or affects swing voters.
My response at the time was pretty simple.
“Well Johnny, I just don’t agree with you on that one.”
“My name is John, not Johnny”
“Whatever you say Johnny.”
The bizarre fixation on formless content, as if yelling "100!!" meant the same as whispering it, since numbers are just numbers, carriers of mathematical data, and words likewise carriers only of specific semantic value, regardless of context. But "I love you" can be spat out with contempt, and "I hate you" can be said with affection. There's no studying language without studying performance. Performance demands interpretation and interpretation demands a sophisticated knowledge of behavior, a knowledge that can be acquired only through experience. Rossman is an "idiot" adult because he demonstrates the intelligence and arrogance of an exceptionally intelligent preadolescent.

The world needs fewer Rossmans, Farrells, or Graebers, and more people who aspire to adulthood.

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