Civil Discourse Now

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   As acrimony has overcome harmony in political discourse, so too have those who wield verbal cudgels sought to tweak otherwise vituperative rants with polite words.

   The words "batshit crazy" have been flung about to describe members of the opposition to that of a particular speaker's. Most often the phrase arises when an image of Michele Bachmann appears on the screen. The reaction is visceral and spontaneous amongst many people---except for a very thin majority of the registered voters in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District who voted for her this past election cycle, and other groups. Some have attempted to mask over the second syllable of the first word of this phrase by replacement of the first word itself with "guano." The usage, in turn, has led some to use "guano"---as in "gone guano"---to replace the entire phrase.

   I must correct these developments. "The American College Dictionary," 2d ed., 1962, p. 537, defines "guano": "1. a natural manure composed chiefly of the excrement of sea birds, found esp. on islands near the Peruvian coast.  2. any similar substance, as an artificial fertilizer made from fish."

   The "Peruvian coast" to which the dictionary refers is not on the banks of the Wabash River near the County seat of Miami in northern Indiana. "Sea" birds would have little reason to fly to Peru, Indiana---or Mexico or Chili, either. The definition is of manure from "sea birds." True, the definition includes "any similar substance," but qualifies such similar substance as "artificial fertilizer made from fish." To the best of my knowledge, bat poop has not been used as fertilizer.

   There are commercial uses for guano. The Pacific nation of Nauru once had the second-highest GDP in the World because the island had been a depository, so to speak, for sea birds over the centuries. guano "is rich in phosphorous, used for fertilizer, drugs, plastics, rustproof metals---and for smoke and incendiary bombs." Carolyn's Compositions, "Nauru: Wealth from Bird Guano (Poop)," Jan. 31, 2010. The people of Nauru grew fat and lazy with their new-found wealth. "Poor diet, alcohol abuse, and a sedentary lifestyle, have produced a country with multiple health problems: one of the world's highest levels of diabetes, renal failure and heart disease, exceeding 40% of the population." Id.

   In all fairness to the people of Nauru, what else would one have to do on an island made of guano in the middle of the Pacific except sit back, relax, and rink heavily as foreign corporations hauled away the principal resource of the island?

   There is no mention here of bats. Therefore, my education in Indiana's public elementary and secondary schools, in which we were taught "guano" meant the excrement from mammals capable of flight---bats---was deficient. I also would point out that there is no mention in the definition of "guano" any aspect of derangement of senses or other psychological maladies so as to imbue the word "guano" with craziness.

   People who would say someone is "guano" should reflect on their application of what is meant as a pejorative adjective. Does that person really mean to say the person is sea bird poop crazy? "Batshit crazy" has its own meaning in modern culture. People should stick with that phrase and leave the guano alone. After all, look at what guano did to the people of Nauru. They are no in bad health and impoverished---all the guano was mined and taken away. Their wealth was gone as quickly as if it had traversed the gastrointestinal tract of a goose.



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