Monday, August 30, 2010

As We Know It

“If we don’t act now, civilization, AS WE KNOW IT, will be destroyed.”

“If we don’t stop this asteroid, it will mean the end of LIFE AS WE KNOW IT"!”

But civilization/life as we don’t know it will be fine?

I really hate that kind of meaningless, reflexive verbiage. It gets added to proclamations, I think because the speaker has heard it so often that he thinks it’s necessary, even though it adds nothing to his statement. Or else because he’s a kneejerk twit.

There are other examples. After Nixon used the phrase “at this point in time”, perhaps during the Watergate crisis, everyone started saying “at this point in time” when they meant “now". Now, damn it, now!

Nixon was the first person I heard say, “I misspoke myself,” instead of, “I was mistaken,” or “I am a pile-of-shit, amoral, soulless, lying crook.” After that, other speakers started using that phrase. Which is okay if you’re a pile-of-shit, amoral, soulless, lying crook. If not, you should probably avoid it and just say something like, “Sorry, I spoke carelessly.”

The first person I heard say “with all due respect” was Jimmy Carter. It was during one of the presidential debates, either in 1976 when he was debating the silly but not evil Gerald Ford or in 1980 when he was debating the Good-God-what-an-evil-pile-of-stupid-shit Ronald Reagan. If I weren’t so old and if I hadn’t drunk so much bourbon, perhaps I’d remember which it was. Not that it matters. Silly but not evil on one hand. Evil pile of stupid shit on the other. Or Republican presidential nominee, for brevity’s sake.

(I think it was 1976, and I think it was in response to Ford clumsily misspeaking himself at that point in time about how East Germans or Poles saw themselves in relation to the Soviet Union. As we knew it.)

I remember being astonished at Carter’s using that phrase. Respect? I thought. For that gray space on the podium? Are you kidding? What respect could you, a highly intelligent, technically educated, well spoken man possibly have for that creature? Why did Carter say it? Was he trying, kindly, to soften the blow before demonstrating how brain dead the Republican was?

Why bother? If you don’t respect the other guy’s opinion, don’t bother with the empty phrase “with all due respect”. If you’re predicting the end of the world, then predict it; don’t add excess words like “as we know it”. If you’re a Democratic candidate debating your opponent, just say, “You’re an astonishingly stupid pile of evil shit, and the policies you propose would destroy civilization. You need to be shut away in a loony bin right now. Jerk.”


TGirsch said...

I think the "with all due respect" is roughly the equivalent of the New Jersey "no disrespect" thing, which is roughly "if I sugar coat this a little bit, perhaps I won't come across like QUITE as much of an asshole," except that it almost always makes it worse.

TGirsch said...

Wow. Run-on sentence of death. At this point in time, I hang my head in shame.

David said...

Wid no disrespect, maybe at that point in time you just misspoke yourself.

Anonymous said...

It's up there with "bless his/her heart..."

David said...

I've heard that one in the South/from Southerners, but not yet on the news.