Saturday, April 14, 2007

What's in a name?

Rick Moran has taken flack for having a brother, again, I see. His sibling, Terry, who works at ABC news and blogs (fairly well, too, for a liberal wink wink) said some things comparing the two non-news race-baiting events of the season, and , while it was clear he meant well, he did miss a point or two.

But that's not why I'm here, today.

I'm not going to delve into the issues (it's really not something I'm interested in. Jeez, we have corrupt and/or idiotic prosecutors all over the place in IL, or so I hear -- predominantly in Chicago -- and nobody gets headlines the way that Nifong jackass did. BFD. And, since when does a shock jock's hurting somebody's feelings deserve to make the national news for a week?). I think enough has been said already, anyway.

But I am going to look at this name thing. Rick pointed out the buzillion (okay, just bunches of) commenters who all felt compelled to use the same lame, predictable variant on their last name. Wow. How much thought does it take to alter an "a" to an "o", and insult the Moran brothers?

I was blessed at birth with a similar sort of last name. Well, not really. But it's a name which became a target for mockery, so I sense the Morans and I share one small piece of commn ground.

Mine is a German name meaning "clapper of the bell" (at which a German friend would walk by saying "ding-a-ding-a-ding-a-ding"), but Midwestern kids noticed that, as our branch of the family pronounced it, it kinda rhymed with a pejorative for a severely physically handicapped person. A few even noticed that one could change a consonant and make a female anatomical reference. That, of course, didn't happen until after the kids had been in advanced health class, where they learned the names of those parts our parents had no occasion to discuss with us. But it nonetheless happened. Many times. Many, many, many, many times.

So, when somebody comes up with the same old same old, I usually try to remember the Monty Python sketch* where Eric Idle introduces himself as "Mister Smoketoomuch", and Terry Jones replies, "You'd better cut down, then." After a moment of confusion, Idle's character finally stops, repeats the badinage, laughs out loud, and Jones says, "You probably get that a lot," to which Idle says, "Never!"

Unlike Mister Smoketoomuch, we've been there, heard it. When you repeat that old stuff, we're laughing at you, not with you.

*I'd have dug up the video if I could find it on YouTube, but (a) there must be a quarter of a million Monty Python vids posted, and (b) my connection is slow. If somebody else knows where to find this sketch, I wouldn't object to a link being posted in the comments, here.

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