Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Metaphor Madness

[UPDATE - Read more on this topic by Archivist and Marianne Williamson]

I'm not sure what all Sarah Palin's recent Facebook post was intended to mean (and maybe she doesn't either, since it's well known she frequently employs ghostwriters for the screeds that appear above her name). It starts out talking about "March Madness" and if you only read the first paragraph or two, you might think she was just giving advice to basketball players, something she considers herself expert in.

Here's a wordle of the last two paragraphs in the post, with a little emphasis on some of the more violent warlike language:

Maybe if Sarah hadn't been widely criticized for urging her supporters to "RELOAD," I may not have grown as increasingly uncomfortable with the verbal imagery here. But I know what she's been saying recently as she stumps for John McCain and am quite familiar with her predictable rabid ferret bite-your-face-off response if you call her out on anything. Instead of backing off her language, Sarah has doubled down on her "Never retreat, instead RELOAD" exhortation. No, more like she tripled or quadrupled down! Here is a direct quote from her Facebook post:
To the teams that desire making it this far next year: Gear up! In the battle, set your sights on next season’s targets! From the shot across the bow – the first second’s tip-off – your leaders will be in the enemy’s cross hairs, so you must execute strong defensive tactics. You won’t win only playing defense, so get on offense! The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons – your Big Guns – to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy; aim high and remember it takes blood, sweat and tears to win.

Focus on the goal and fight for it. If the gate is closed, go over the fence. If the fence is too high, pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, parachute in. If the other side tries to push back, your attitude should be “go for it.” Get in their faces and argue with them. (Sound familiar?!) Every possession is a battle; you’ll only win the war if you’ve picked your battles wisely. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!
War, Fight, Intense, Remember, Battle, Tactics

Thoughts are things. Words have meaning. Language stirs emotions. Careless use of language is as potentially dangerous and harmful as driving without paying attention to the road.

Guns, Shoot, Sights, Set, Aim, Go, RELOAD, Win

Sarah and buddy John McCain are rebutting the notion that their words are in any way responsible for acts of violence and vandalism directed toward Democratic members of Congress and their families.

Bombing, Big Guns, Penetrate, Targets, High

Any one incendiary word taken in isolation may be excused for lack of context, and presumed spoken in innocence. A few combative terms spread out over pages of text may likewise escape notice. But dozens and dozens of militaristic words in each of two successive paragraphs cannot be mistaken for anything except warmongering and inciting to violence.

Fight, Enemy, Blood, Shot, Hole, Offense, Execute [courtesy IGN.com]
I honestly tried to read the post as if it were really only about basketball. But how does pole vaulting or parachuting relate? And since when is "get in their faces and argue" a valid tactic on a basketball court for winning anything except a prolonged time-out?

Can't reach the basket any other way? Parachute in!
Playing basketball is not at all like real war. Players on the opposing team, be it in sports or politics, are not enemies. But if you label your neighbor an enemy you make it just a little easier to put them in the crosshairs of your weapon and shoot with accuracy, aiming high, remembering there will be blood, sweat and tears also, too, you betcha.
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