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

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.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.