Saturday, January 29, 2005


I Sneer At The Word "Sneer"

I was delighted to find the President Boxer blog mentioned in this Forward article about Senator Boxer and the Condi Rice hearings:
A blog, "President Boxer," touted her as a possible presidential candidate, while U.S. News & World Report dubbed her "the go-to politician for the big battles coming down the pike on abortion, the Supreme Court, and civil rights."
But is anyone besides me bothered by the use of the word "sneer" earlier in that article?
"The Republicans were expecting the Senate to confirm Dr. Rice with little debate and questioning from the Foreign Relations Committee," Boxer sneered in an e-mail appeal sent out Tuesday by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "They didn't count on me to ask the tough questions. What the Republicans don't realize is, no matter who is in charge in the White House, the role of Congress will always be to act as a check on the Executive branch of government. ... But we will need your help to hold them accountable in the ultimate public hearing: the next midterm elections in 2006."
Now perhaps I'm being overly picky, but the word "sneer" has a negative connotation which seems inappropriate to describe such a professional (albeit justifiably boastful) statement.

So, what say you? Am I being unduly persnickety here?

So, what say you? Am I being unduly persnickety here?Not at all. This is just one more example -- as if one were needed -- of the continuing subtle (and often not-so-subtle) marginalization and demonization of liberal and progressive voices in America. It's a page straight out of the Lee Atwater-Newt Gingrich playbook, branding Democrats as negative, shrill and out of touch. There is nothing neutral about the word "sneer." (He sneered.)
It is sort of like asking former Dick Cheney aide John Pitney for his opinion of Boxer and only identifying him as a political scientist...

Oh, that liberal media.
Attributing tone to e-mail is one of the easiest smears in the lexicon. I'd suggest that the author has a teensy weensie bias, there.
Unless they are using a language other than English, a "sneer" requires a particular facial expression.

Absent a hell of a emoticon or an explicit mention by the author that they were sneering, the use of the word is ignorant, i.e. the user doesn't know what the word means.
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