Really, Call Them "Teabaggers"
Its participants prefer to call it "tea party." They take offense—major-league and personal—at the label "teabaggers." When I wrote a blog last week on "Hoosier values," I made reference to participants in whatever this thing it is they have—I think Tony Soprano called his and his fellows’ activities "this thing we have," and it was not waste reclamation—teabaggers as teabaggers. I wrote:
"Some people are offended by use of the term ‘teabagger’ to describe those who have reached back in history to identify themselves with participants in the Boston Tea Party. The offense is taken because ‘teabag,’ as a noun or a verb, also means a specific sexual act or engaging in that sexual act. However, teabaggers themselves used the term, early on (March 14, 2009, Fox news report) when they encouraged people to ‘Teabag the Fools in D.C. on tax day.’ If ignorance of the law is no excuse, then neither is ignorance of a term by which one refers to oneself.
I had second thoughts about having written this passage. After all, people, who themselves had used "teabag" as a verb, were shocked to learn the verb "teabag" also describes a male’s repetitive placement of his genitals in another person’s mouth, in fashion similar to dipping a tea bag into a cup. The press referred to it variously as a fraternity hazing ritual or a homosexual act. I was unaware of its existence. I was in a fraternity in college and we neither hazed nor employed homosexual acts. Besides, I did not see why it would be considered a homosexual act. The "other" person could as easily be a female. Of course, these are the days of the internet and apparently teabagging is a form of humiliation of an opponent in what used to be called video games, although they probably are called something else, nomenclature changes so quickly.
I started this website with the notion of engaging in civil discourse. Here I had employed a term, some find to be at the pinnacle of insults, to describe persons with views counter to my own. After reflection on the matter, I cannot say I was wrong.
First, as I said in the quoted passage, they were first to use the term to describe themselves. They did so out of ignorance. At the same time, many in their movement—if one can call it that—sought to eliminate the teaching of evolution in our schools, encourage vouchers as a method of funding schools, and take other various steps that, I believe, would retard learning of our society’s children. They also seem to be overwhelmingly homophobic. So there was irony to a group naming itself, in ignorance, with a term its adherents found abhorrent.
Second, I thought of the way in which the sentiment behind this thing they have has become such an unfocused, malignant force in our society. On one of the news program I watched last night, a host referred to the fear Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate and House have for the forces of the "tea party." (He used the term preferred by the tea baggers.) I cannot remember a time when members of either political party followed, in lock-step, to the dictates of any group. The use of the word "fear" concerned me greatly.
Third, the "values" of the teabaggers, contrary to their statements, are not held by a majority of the American people. Most of the polls show a majority wants the Bush tax cuts eliminated and Social Security and Medicare left alone. So we have a small number of people who seek to impose their views on everyone else. How did they manage to do this? Money is one means. The Koch brothers have poured a lot of money into this thing the tea people have. At the end of the day, there is no clearly articulated platform of the teabaggers. There only is expression of anger over what has happened to our country, much of it related to the economy. Unfortunately, tax cuts to the rich and expenditures of tons of money on two (undeclared) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from which the Koch brothers’ companies in all likelihood profited, caused the economic plight that gave rise to the teabaggers’ fear. That fear has been manipulated to further the ends of the people who caused the problems in the first place.
So find the term offensive if you wish. The teabaggers brandish fear in a sort of mob mentality the Framers found antithetical to the qualities they thought critical to a well-functioning republic. Also, realize the original Boston Tea Party consisted of drunken vandals who reacted to a REDUCTION in the tea tax Britain had imposed on her colonies across the pond. Finally, the movement seeks, through various attacks on public education—one of the most important elements of America’s success over the last couple of hundred years—to dumb down the American public. When I read news stories that question the value of education, I feel sick. I am confident such stories do not appear in newspapers or on websites in Finland, Japan, or other countries in which educational systems are far ahead of ours.
They should have researched more throughly a name or identity for this thing they have. Maybe they could have called themselves "Santorum." There is a name without sexual connotations.