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Tags Anne Marie Morris , racial slurs , Tories , uk politics

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Old 13th July 2017, 12:35 AM   #1
Samson
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****** in the woodpile.

Should Theresa May suspend an MP for employing this durable colloquialism?
How will ISF treat this thread? I hope it is OK here, I have always been fascinated by the censorship of Mark Twain.

In New Zealand pakeha means white grub I believe. It is always important to examine our own ways of configuring swirling insults.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news...ectid=11888777
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Old 13th July 2017, 12:52 AM   #2
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When I was in England in the 1970s, I was asked by at least 4-5 people (men and women, but all university-educated, intelligent folks), if it was true that the n-word was considered taboo in polite conversation in the US. Their baffled replies to my affirmative were mostly along the lines that it was just a word. By the third time, I found how to express it. How would they like being associated by people with someone like Andy Capp? Well, of course they were appalled and I said that's the kind of person who uses the n-word in the US.

I have heard the expression about one in the woodpile, but I don't even know what it means, that's how archaic it is here.
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Old 13th July 2017, 12:53 AM   #3
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Censoring Mark Twain is pretty ridiculous. But there's no reason to use one of the most offensive terms in the English language casually. This particular idea could have been expressed just as clearly by saying something like "the rat in in the woodpile." Suspending the woman is probably necessary to prevent a backlash against the whole party. But she'll apologize, get reinstated, and in a couple weeks the whole thing will blow over.
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Old 13th July 2017, 01:21 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Censoring Mark Twain is pretty ridiculous. But there's no reason to use one of the most offensive terms in the English language casually. This particular idea could have been expressed just as clearly by saying something like "the rat in in the woodpile." Suspending the woman is probably necessary to prevent a backlash against the whole party. But she'll apologize, get reinstated, and in a couple weeks the whole thing will blow over.
"Rat in the woodpile" is not now and never has been, a common expression, AFAIK, and the words used do have a fairly specific meaning. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a similar metaphor; spanner-in-the-works for example, doesn't really match what I think she was trying to say here.

FWIW, I last heard someone use that phrase in 2001, whilst on a training course, funnily enough just as a black colleague (the trainer was white) was entering the room. It wasn't a big deal in that particularly situation, for whatever reason. But on the whole, I can't imagine someone using it today without causing significant offence.
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Old 13th July 2017, 02:47 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by commandlinegamer View Post
"Rat in the woodpile" is not now and never has been, a common expression, AFAIK, and the words used do have a fairly specific meaning. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a similar metaphor; spanner-in-the-works for example, doesn't really match what I think she was trying to say here.

FWIW, I last heard someone use that phrase in 2001, whilst on a training course, funnily enough just as a black colleague (the trainer was white) was entering the room. It wasn't a big deal in that particularly situation, for whatever reason. But on the whole, I can't imagine someone using it today without causing significant offence.
I would have said "Turd in the Punchbowl" carries pretty much the same meaning, and has the added benefit of being slightly off colour too, so can be used in after dinner speeches at golf clubs if there are journalists present and you can't say ******.
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Old 13th July 2017, 03:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
I would have said "Turd in the Punchbowl" carries pretty much the same meaning, and has the added benefit of being slightly off colour too, so can be used in after dinner speeches at golf clubs if there are journalists present and you can't say ******.
Or to keep it a bit more classy, "fly in the ointment"? Wiki says that Agatha Christie substituted the n*** expression with that in one of her novels.

I'm surprised that an American, antebellum-South expression got that much traction in the UK. In 2008, Cameron sacked a Tory peer who used the expression as well.
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Old 13th July 2017, 03:37 AM   #7
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These are all great posts thank you.
Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.

Maybe words do hurt, but unspecified targets might be differentiated. How would Michelle Obama (probable leader at some time in the future of a world described stylistacally as free) enter this discussion?
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Old 13th July 2017, 03:39 AM   #8
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She'd have to join the forum...
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Old 13th July 2017, 03:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Samson View Post
Should Theresa May suspend an MP for employing this durable colloquialism?
How will ISF treat this thread? I hope it is OK here, I have always been fascinated by the censorship of Mark Twain
Can you give examples of the use of the expression which have been censored in Twain? Was Twain, for example in Huckleberry Finn, not merely transcribing the words used in the ordinary speech of the people described in that book?

But I don't think that ****** is a normal expression in the ranks of the modern Conservative Party.
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Old 13th July 2017, 03:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
She'd have to join the forum...
How do you know I haven't?
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Old 13th July 2017, 03:52 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Samson View Post
Should Theresa May suspend an MP for employing this durable colloquialism?
How will ISF treat this thread? I hope it is OK here, I have always been fascinated by the censorship of Mark Twain.
Clearly she needs to be treated as a historical artifact and not one who is involved in the modern world.
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Old 13th July 2017, 05:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
I would have said "Turd in the Punchbowl" carries pretty much the same meaning, and has the added benefit of being slightly off colour too, so can be used in after dinner speeches at golf clubs if there are journalists present and you can't say ******.
That one is an excellent functional substitute!!! Whereas the rat one is really pretty much meaningless for the purpose of such description as rats are normally quite likely to hide in woodpiles or similar!!!
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Old 13th July 2017, 06:10 AM   #13
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My understanding is that the expression was more accurately: "the ******" in the woodshed" and implied a secret past sexual liaison leading to a "tainting" of one's gene pool. It is therefore manages to be racist and deeply offensive at multiple levels.

As to the OP- yes, suspending the MP would be the minimum I would see as appropriate. What one blurts out reflects what is rattling around one's head.

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Old 13th July 2017, 06:34 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by fagin View Post
How do you know I haven't?
I don't know how many times I have to tell you Mrs Clinton fagin you can't go around impersonating Mrs Obama!
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Old 13th July 2017, 06:55 AM   #15
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I have heard my grandmother use it. We were watching a TV drama (it may have been a murder mystery - perhaps Miss Marple or something like that) about 25 or 30 years ago, and when she thought she knew who the murderer was she blurted out, "There's the ****** in the woodpile!"

She wasn't trolling us - we assumed it was oldspeak and passed over the incident in silence.
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Old 13th July 2017, 07:12 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Censoring Mark Twain is pretty ridiculous. But there's no reason to use one of the most offensive terms in the English language casually. This particular idea could have been expressed just as clearly by saying something like "the rat in in the woodpile." Suspending the woman is probably necessary to prevent a backlash against the whole party. But she'll apologize, get reinstated, and in a couple weeks the whole thing will blow over.

I don't know if you could get away with that. There are those who don't like the child's rhyme, "Eenie meanie minie moe. Catch a tiger by it's toe. If he hollers, let him go." because apparently "tiger" wasn't the original word.
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Old 13th July 2017, 07:18 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
I don't know if you could get away with that. There are those who don't like the child's rhyme, "Eenie meanie minie moe. Catch a tiger by it's toe. If he hollers, let him go." because apparently "tiger" wasn't the original word.
That's nothing compared to the grievous use of the apostrophe in the possessive pronoun.

But maybe she would have got away with it if she had said, "tiger in the woodpile" and gave a sly wink.
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Old 13th July 2017, 08:31 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
I don't know if you could get away with that. There are those who don't like the child's rhyme, "Eenie meanie minie moe. Catch a tiger by it's toe. If he hollers, let him go." because apparently "tiger" wasn't the original word.
Not apparently, Definitely.
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Old 13th July 2017, 10:12 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Can you give examples of the use of the expression which have been censored in Twain? Was Twain, for example in Huckleberry Finn, not merely transcribing the words used in the ordinary speech of the people described in that book?
.....
Not sure what you're asking. "Huckleberry Finn" has been censored in some circles, or banned from school classes. Ridiculous, but true.
https://nypost.com/2015/12/14/school...uncomfortable/
https://www.theguardian.com/books/bo...d-unacceptable
http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/01/0...ord/index.html
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Old 13th July 2017, 10:21 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by commandlinegamer View Post
"Rat in the woodpile" is not now and never has been, a common expression, AFAIK, and the words used do have a fairly specific meaning. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a similar metaphor; spanner-in-the-works for example, doesn't really match what I think she was trying to say here.
.....
I think the idea is along the lines of "unanticipated, unwelcome surprise." Like an "unknown unknown." Maybe the speaker could make a new phrase: "Rat in the garbage can?" "Snake in the tent?" Etc.

Interestingly, there's a whole wiki page on the phrase.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/******_in_the_woodpile
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Old 13th July 2017, 10:23 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
I don't know if you could get away with that. There are those who don't like the child's rhyme, "Eenie meanie minie moe. Catch a tiger by it's toe. If he hollers, let him go." because apparently "tiger" wasn't the original word.
I'd heard "catch a monkey." Probably worse than "tiger."
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Old 13th July 2017, 11:17 AM   #22
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It's totally ridiculous to be in the public eye and say something of this magnitude, you'd have to be totally clueless to come out with something like that, even by accident. It's on the level of Mayor Vaughn of Royston Vasey in the League of Gentlemen being unable to stop swearing whenever he's being interviewed on camera.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGXeF8YlEgw
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Old 13th July 2017, 11:38 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
I think the idea is along the lines of "unanticipated, unwelcome surprise." Like an "unknown unknown." Maybe the speaker could make a new phrase: "Rat in the garbage can?" "Snake in the tent?" Etc.

Interestingly, there's a whole wiki page on the phrase.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/******_in_the_woodpile

Your link won't work with the asterisks in it.

From the page you were trying to link to:
Quote:
"The original meaning had to do with the complexion of a newborn's skin. If a white woman had a baby with dark skin, it might imply the father was a black man."[2] You did not see the "****** hiding in the woodpile" but now you know.
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Old 13th July 2017, 11:50 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Not sure what you're asking. "Huckleberry Finn" has been censored in some circles, or banned from school classes. Ridiculous, but true.
https://nypost.com/2015/12/14/school...uncomfortable/
https://www.theguardian.com/books/bo...d-unacceptable
http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/01/0...ord/index.html
All these links refer to HF being deemed unsuitable to be studied in schoolrooms. There are plenty of books that aren't thought apprioriate for classrooms, but making that decision is hardly the same thing as censorship, although I agree it's ridiculous in the case of HF.
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Old 13th July 2017, 12:25 PM   #25
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Old 13th July 2017, 12:28 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
All these links refer to HF being deemed unsuitable to be studied in schoolrooms. There are plenty of books that aren't thought apprioriate for classrooms, but making that decision is hardly the same thing as censorship, although I agree it's ridiculous in the case of HF.

Bob001 only offered you a few examples, which happened to relate to classrooms. This was part of the most recent furor over the book, because of its use as a study example in American literature.

Maybe this will be more enlightening.
Quote:
Ever since its publication in 1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain has been controversial with the use of “offensive” language, events, and satire. The book has continually been censored and banned from public libraries and school, in fact, Huckleberry Finn was one of the 10 most frequently challenged books in the 1990s, and the most challenged book in 1995-1996 (Bolton). Censorship of books in general is not okay because books are the richest way for people to “learn and discover things in and about their world” (Bolton). The novel has been banned from multiple libraries, uses some language that will forever be debated, causes a mix of personal and political issues, and is actually being republished.
If you refer to that link you will learn that it was banned from the Public Library of Concord, MA as far back as 1885, and from the children's section of the Brooklyn Public Library in 1902.

I seem to recall having seen somewhere an ALA compilation of the many times and places where Huck had been successfully banned, as well as those where the attempt to ban it had been made. But my first cursory attempt to locate that on the web for this post was unsuccessful.

Be assured, it has not been objected to only for use in classroom studies. In fact, that is relatively recent. It has been banned in school and public libraries, and many attempts have been made to ban it in others.

One thing which I find interesting is the various different reasons for the banning.

For example. The two early public library bannings I mentioned above were not because of the use of uncomfortable or potentially divisive words like the "N" word, which nobody saw any problems with because they were common parlance at the time, but rather for depictions of coarse language and behavior which might exert a bad influence on and encourage imitation by the children who read it.
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Old 13th July 2017, 12:36 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Samson View Post
Should Theresa May suspend an MP for employing this durable colloquialism?
How will ISF treat this thread? I hope it is OK here, I have always been fascinated by the censorship of Mark Twain.

In New Zealand pakeha means white grub I believe. It is always important to examine our own ways of configuring swirling insults.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news...ectid=11888777
So who's whiteness was she questioning anyway?
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Old 13th July 2017, 12:40 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Your link won't work with the asterisks in it.

From the page you were trying to link to:
I didn't insert the asterisks. I suspect that's an automatic forum function. I don't wanna break the rules by trying to experiment.
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Old 13th July 2017, 12:47 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
I didn't insert the asterisks. I suspect that's an automatic forum function. I don't wanna break the rules by trying to experiment.

Gosh. I wonder if I should have put the embedded link in NSFW tags.

You don't normally think to do that with links to Wikipedia.
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Old 13th July 2017, 01:30 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Beerina View Post
I don't know if you could get away with that. There are those who don't like the child's rhyme, "Eenie meanie minie moe. Catch a tiger by it's toe. If he hollers, let him go." because apparently "tiger" wasn't the original word.
I am constantly amazed by the amount of people in Australia who consider the n version of this still acceptable.
In their defence it's either, oh it's just a word, or it doesn't mean anything or I didn't mean anything negative by it.
None of them like it when I point out that as nearly 50, I wasn't brought up to use it and I certainly knew how offensive it was. THey also tend not to be so keen on being asked would they use it around an African american?
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Old 13th July 2017, 01:33 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Gosh. I wonder if I should have put the embedded link in NSFW tags.

You don't normally think to do that with links to Wikipedia.
That doesn't matter. The autocensor replaces a naughty word with asterisks wherever it occurs in your post. Also in links. Also within NSFW tags.
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Old 13th July 2017, 02:00 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by ddt View Post
That doesn't matter. The autocensor replaces a naughty word with asterisks wherever it occurs in your post. Also in links. Also within NSFW tags.

Okay. I didn't expect that one. Not when embedded. I guess I never tried before.

Of course, I don't recall ever having to use NSFW tags either.

I guess I'm just not edgy enough.

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Old 13th July 2017, 02:59 PM   #33
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What really frosts my grill about this is that Anne Marie Morris excuses herself by saying that her comment (n-word in the woodpile) was "unintentional". Now I can, and do, swear like a sailor but the only unintentional swears I use are those which are in my general vocabulary.

I will use **** and **** and **** with impunity, but race-based swears such as the n-word or the p-word are so far from my mind that I never use them. She has to be using that phrase on a regular basis to say this "unintentionally"

Being suspended is really not enough IMO; she needs to resign and a by-election held.

Still, it probably makes a nice change for her partner and election agent - usually he's the one in trouble for racist language.
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Old 13th July 2017, 03:30 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
I'd heard "catch a monkey." Probably worse than "tiger."
I learned "farmer". I have no idea where that came from.
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Old 13th July 2017, 03:31 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
My understanding is that the expression was more accurately: "the ******" in the woodshed" and implied a secret past sexual liaison leading to a "tainting" of one's gene pool. It is therefore manages to be racist and deeply offensive at multiple levels.

As to the OP- yes, suspending the MP would be the minimum I would see as appropriate. What one blurts out reflects what is rattling around one's head.
Yes. Your understanding is correct as to the term and its effect an the people who use(d) it.
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Old 13th July 2017, 04:05 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Samson View Post
In New Zealand pakeha means white grub I believe.
You believe wrong.

http://maorinews.com/writings/papers/other/pakeha.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%81keh%C4%81
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Old 14th July 2017, 04:59 AM   #37
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I think the only time I ever encountered the phrase 'in the wild' was in a children's book, one of the Jennings and Derbyshire series but I don't remember which one. (The offending phrase was spoken by a teacher to which the lad responded "No Sir, that's Derbyshire, he's just a bit dusty!").
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Old 14th July 2017, 06:06 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
How would they like being associated by people with someone like Andy Capp? Well, of course they were appalled and I said that's the kind of person who uses the n-word in the US.
Is there another Andy Capp? The one I know from the cartoon is a feckless layabout, fond of drinking and gambling but not especially known for racism.

Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I have heard my grandmother use it. We were watching a TV drama (it may have been a murder mystery - perhaps Miss Marple or something like that) about 25 or 30 years ago, and when she thought she knew who the murderer was she blurted out, "There's the ****** in the woodpile!"

She wasn't trolling us - we assumed it was oldspeak and passed over the incident in silence.
Well, Christie originally used the word in title of the book that was called And Then There Were None in the US. The use of the word was regarded differently in the UK in 1930s (and even much later, into the 70s at least).

For a politician of a major party to use the word today, and in such a way that appears to suggest they habitually use it without thinking, is another matter entirely. She's only 3 years older than me, so for most of her life it's not been an acceptable expression, even leaving aside the awareness you'd expect a politician would have regarding such things.
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Old 14th July 2017, 12:08 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Is there another Andy Capp? The one I know from the cartoon is a feckless layabout, fond of drinking and gambling but not especially known for racism.
Confusion with Alf Garnett, I expect.
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Old 14th July 2017, 12:24 PM   #40
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Robert Byrd kept his U.S. Senate seat after using he phrase "White *******" in an interview on Fox:

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