A Good Name - pt 12
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woohooligan Jun 5, 2016
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Have you ever used the expression "call a spade a spade?" If you have, are you black? If I had to guess, I would say there aren't many people who answer "yes" to both of those questions... I'll give you a hint, the expression isn't about poker... or gardening. On its surface, I'll bet a lot of people think the expression comes from poker, but then why would there ever be a question about calling those spades by their given name? On the other hand, if "spade" is used as a racial slur, then someone who wants to be a good neighbor would avoid using the word... Others would of course revel in their racism with the expression, "I believe in calling a spade a spade".

Or at least... so I had heard until recently. I looked it up and it turns out that "call a spade a spade" DID have to do with gardening... well... in a roundabout way. It was an expression of questionable origin in ancient Greece as "call a fig a fig and a trough a trough", where fig and trough were probably both sexual double-entendre (double being the best kind of entendre). Much later the expression came to English as "call a spade a spade" still with the gardening meaning (making it pretty lame at that point, having lost something in translation) and then acquired its racial-slur status in the 1920s.

All of this to say that language is a funny and perplexing thing... How often do we use an expression not knowing where it came from? I once had a job interview cancelled because I used the expression "bum rush" (something my father used to say growing up to generically mean "a bad thing"), because the interviewer insisted I couldn't use that expression without knowing it's origin. In hindsight, it's for the best he cancelled the interview. Who needs that kind of aggravation?

Here's another one: who is a cretin? Bueller? Bueller?

A) an idiot
b) a creep
c) a person from Crete?

So is it any wonder that many people mistake the word "racism" to mean merely "prejudice"? (I'm pretty sure I used to be one of those people.) And while prejudice is still bad, they are in fact different things... I've met straight white men, who claim to be "oppressed" by gay/brown/women. Go figure.

And our mythology and our folk tales are much the same way. We're always playing this extended game of "whisper down the lane" and that's how we end up with this idea that we're supposed to become angels when we die... I'm usually no slouch on technical matters, but for the life of me I can't find any images or video of Tom and Jerry or of Bugs Bunny as angels with halo, wings and harp. But if you watched Saturday morning cartoons in the early 80s when I was a kid, I guarantee you've seen that several times. Nevertheless, nowhere in the bible can I find any suggestion that this is the case... and certainly we've never adapted our idea of Hell as a place where we become demons... So I can only imagine that the angel idea came about as a kind of wish-fulfillment for those of us who were raised Christian.

It's probably for the best. Did you really want four heads?

In other news, tomorrow I hope to publish my next monthly update on my goals for this year. You guys are awesome! If you're enjoying the comics, if you laugh, if you find these commentaries interesting, then please do share this and share my goals with your friends. Thanks!

Stay awesome, Hooligans!

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