NPR logo

Lipstick On Your Choler (Or: Did You Call Me a Pig?)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/94665918/94666119" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Lipstick On Your Choler (Or: Did You Call Me a Pig?)

Lipstick On Your Choler (Or: Did You Call Me a Pig?)

Lipstick On Your Choler (Or: Did You Call Me a Pig?)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/94665918/94666119" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

When Barack Obama trotted out a well-worn, folksy phrase about cosmetics and swine on Sept. 9, the political world developed a sudden allergic rash.

The John McCain campaign depicted the remark as deliberate personal attack on vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift, who was heading up a Palin "Truth Squad," accused Obama of calling McCain's running mate a pig — and described the remark as offensive and disgraceful.

Fresh Air's resident linguist examines the furor, asking who's responsible when words get misconstrued — and whether there's an irony when a cultural conservative complains that a progressive has been insufficiently sensitive.