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Political Hyperbole

I’ve seen several people linking to this article about Rick Santorum, an article titled “Santorum: ‘I’ll Die’ to Stop Same Sex Marriages.” The links have sometimes included comments about the messed-up priorities of a man who would sooner die than permit a loving, same-sex couple the same kind of rights he enjoys as a straight man.

There’s a problem. What Santorum actually said was:

“The battle we’re engaged in right now is same sex marriage, ultimately that is the very foundation of our country, the family, what the family structure is going to look like. I’ll die on that hill.”

You see that last bit? “I’ll die on that hill.” That’s what we call a figure of speech.

I wrote on Friday that I was going to write the crap out of a chapter. I was not, in fact, using my keyboard to extract literal feces from my document. I was using a figure of speech to more colorfully describe my efforts to improve the story.

Look, I find a lot of Santorum’s views and statements to be despicable. But my feelings are based on what he’s said and done, not on twisting his words into something he didn’t say.

I don’t care where you fall on the political spectrum. When you distort (or outright lie about) what someone said in order to try to score points, you lose credibility.

This has been Jim’s cranky political post of the day. Thank you for listening, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
mrissa
Oct. 22nd, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
Seriously, like what he's actually saying there is not worse. He is actually saying that the entire rest of political life in this country is worth throwing away to make sure those pesky homosexuals do not get to marry each other. I'm sure to his family that's a smaller thing, but to the rest of us it's bigger.
jimhines
Oct. 22nd, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Oh believe me, I am not in any way defending the things he actually said. But I'd much rather condemn him for what he did say, not what he didn't, you know?
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deborahblakehps
Oct. 22nd, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
I enjoy the hell out of your cranky. And I'm *pretty* sure that the hell isn't literal, although if you asked a fundimentalist, they're probably run off and fetch the marshmallows...
jimhines
Oct. 22nd, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
Headline: "Author Deborah Blake Believes Fundamentalists Have Secret Marshmallow Addiction!"
(no subject) - deborahblakehps - Oct. 22nd, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
beccastareyes
Oct. 22nd, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
Though I do wonder about the willingness to use that metaphor for this problem: why is this like a life-or-death battle for Sen. Sentorum? Is it because he is sufficiently a hard-liner that everything comes down to black and white, swords and glory*? Or does this issue cause him to trot out the rhetorical Big Guns?

* Insert musing about why battle metaphors are used so heavily in political rhetoric, rather than ones that involve more compromise and such. Granted, I'm not inclined to find compromise on the issue myself -- equality is non-negotiable, and at best I'll consider chipping away at bigotry one law at a time.
jimhines
Oct. 22nd, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
It's a metaphor that, in the digging I did this afternoon, seems to refer primarily to military battles, but also resonates with Calvary, the hill Christ was crucified on. So I imagine it's a phrase that would play well with certain segments of the population.

As for why he feels defending same-sex marriage is such an important priority, given everything else our country is dealing with ... beats the everloving s*** out of me. (Not literally, of course.)
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jimhines
Oct. 22nd, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
Reading this makes me wonder if part of what happens is that we're reacting on the emotional level before the rest of the brain has a chance to catch up. Both the Santorum article and the line about Jobs are powerful emotional gut punches, and that's going to make people react...

Also, "the computer as a jail made cool"??? WTF?
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(no subject) - jhetley - Oct. 23rd, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
mtlawson
Oct. 22nd, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
I wrote on Friday that I was going to write the crap out of a chapter. I was not, in fact, using my keyboard to extract literal feces from my document.

I'm disappointed.

You haven't seen me write, Jim. ;-)
jimhines
Oct. 22nd, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
Ew.
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snapes_angel
Oct. 23rd, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
Nothing wrong with a cranky episode in response to a misconception.
shalanna
Oct. 23rd, 2011 12:57 am (UTC)
I just did a tongue-in-cheek blog post, a poll that asks people if they know what a metaphor is ("to graze cows in" was my AP English teacher's favorite answer) and what Paul Simon meant by "being received in graceland" (again, figurative language). I believe that people who are younger (among others--but most often I see this in people born after 1990) have more literal brains, and they take things more literally. At face value. They simply do not "catch" those figures of speech or metaphors, and they often misinterpret things that they read if the texts contain allusion, figures of speech, exaggerations for sarcastic effect, and the like. (Beta readers on my fiction are confused by metaphor very often.) I believe that's because people are now being raised in a visual environment, seeing video instead of reading text, and are learning to see "what they show" and believe the surface--but not to see beneath to the subtext or the "this is a cautionary tale" sort of thing. Michael Douglas recently said that he regretted having made "Wall Street" because it was supposed to have been a cautionary tale, and people should have known that "Greed Is Good" was an ironic statement meant to represent the badness of that attitude, but instead people imitated and copied the behavior. It's a loss of figurative language and symbolism that disturbs me.

And of course the really smart ones distort things on purpose for political gain. That's what happened there.
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lingster1
Oct. 23rd, 2011 04:16 am (UTC)
Of course,his words about "dying on a hill" means he's claiming -- however unconsciously -- the Hero mantle, along with Orpheus, Christ and a lot of others.
shalanna
Oct. 23rd, 2011 04:17 pm (UTC)
Good point! There's an idiom in Texas, "choose the hills you're going to die on," meaning that you pick the battles that are most important to you and concentrate your energy on them, rather than just scattershotting against "all the things I don't like" and being less effective. For example, I choose the Oxford comma as a copyediting hill to "die on," because it's defensible and increases clarity (it never decreases clarity to omit it). That's something I don't budge on. As far as using "then" like a conjunction, though ("She reached for the ring, then snatched back her hand as the water engulfed the table"), I can defend or attack it, depending on the context and whether the sentence is in fiction or not.

It does resonate with the three crosses on the hill, the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, the hill in the Iliad, and all those battle scenes.

That's how figurative language enriches our writing (*I* think) and that's why I believe it's good to talk about it in English literature classes, even though a good number of students become hostile to the idea of "analyzing everything to death" because some teachers present things in ways the students don't "get."
jhetley
Oct. 23rd, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC)
As far as writing the crap out of a manuscript goes, isn't that the editing function?
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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