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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Metaphors And Politics: Palin Has Not Retreated, She Has Reloaded

Damn straight I used that metaphor because it seems some in the media and political pundits have forgotten or never really understood what a metaphor is.

Metaphor, via

1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our god.” Compare mixed metaphor, simile ( def. 1 ) .

2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.

Sarah Palin finally responded to Palin Derangement victims that accused her of inciting violence by use of metaphors. I addressed her response in my previous post.

Is saying Sarah Palin let journalists and pundits have it with "both barrels" inciting violence any more than Barack Obama's statement in 2008 when he said "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

Is it any different than Democratic Governor Jerry Brown's comments on the state budget where he said "Some people might say I am putting a gun to their head."?

No, they are all metaphors and metaphors are used often in politics and in every day conversation. Symbols and words using certain figures of speech to which it is not literally applicable is common.

Sports fans use sports metaphors, gun owners use gun metaphors, bowlers use bowling metaphors, hunters use hunting metaphors, etc... I think those examples make the point.

According to Wikipedia:

The idea of metaphor can be traced back to Aristotle who, in his “Poetics” (around 335 BC), defines “metaphor” as follows: “Metaphor is the application of a strange term either transferred from the genus and applied to the species or from the species and applied to the genus, or from one species to another or else by analogy.”[7] For the sake of clarity and comprehension it might additionally be useful to quote the following two alternative translations: “Metaphor is the application of an alien name by transference either from genus to species, or from species to genus, or from species to species, or by analogy, that is, proportion.”[8] Or, as Halliwell puts it in his translation: “Metaphor is the application of a word that belongs to another thing: either from genus to species, species to genus, species to species, or by analogy.”[9]

If I say I have someone in my "crosshairs" but I am not holding a gun in my hand, it means I am targeting someone figuratively, not literally by pointing a gun.

Those that cannot distinguish between a metaphor and/or analogy and inciting violence by use of a metaphor or symbol, should own a dictionary before they start using a keyboard.

Those that deliberately portray a metaphor as anything other than what it is, should get a shrink.

Malkin nails it on the head. "Idiocracy: The new normal."

[Update] Krauthammer adds a couple more examples:

When profiles of Obama's first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, noted that he once sent a dead fish to a pollster who displeased him, a characteristically subtle statement carrying more than a whiff of malice and murder, it was considered a charming example of excessive - and creative - political enthusiasm. When Senate candidate Joe Manchin dispensed with metaphor and simply fired a bullet through the cap-and-trade bill - while intoning, "I'll take dead aim at [it]" - he was hardly assailed with complaints about violations of civil discourse or invitations to murder.

Did Manchin push Loughner over the top? Did Emanuel's little Mafia imitation create a climate for political violence? The very questions are absurd - unless you're the New York Times and you substitute the name Sarah Palin.

The origins of Loughner's delusions are clear: mental illness. What are the origins of Krugman's?