The American Spectator, defenders of the Queen’s English, preservers of various Village Greens, recently rushed to save a word from being beblackened, scolding Shirley Sherrod for having the temerity to claim her relative was “lynched” when he was merely beaten to death by the local sheriff and his accomplices. Simple “fisticuffs” gone awry as the author would have it. Madam, have you no decency? Uppity Adam Serwer disagrees:
A lynching is an extrajudicial mob killing. No one who worked to document the practice of lynching in the South limited the definition of the term to solely include those lynchings that occurred using a rope. Don’t believe me? Here’s the definition of lynching as described in the 1922 anti-lynching bill introduced by Republican Rep. L.C. Dyer that Lord pretends to know something about:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the phrase “mob or riotous assemblage,” when used in this act, shall mean an assemblage composed of three or more persons acting in concert for the purpose of depriving any person of his life without authority of law as a punishment for or to prevent the commission of some actual or supposed public offense.
So Lord concocts a definition of lynching that would only include a narrow number of lynchings, which is a bit like setting the threshold for racism so high that nothing short of having a closet full of white sheets would make you a racist. Also, in case you’re curious, yes, that bill died because of the filibuster.
Frenchy Lemiuex goes even further than Serwer to suggest that – gasp – the American Spectator has not always been so persnickety about the proper parameters of “le lynch”:
However, in fairness it must be said that this publication has not always employed such a narrow definition. Indeed, as Steve and TS note, when powerful white Republican political figures are involved, the definition of “lynching” can be broadened to include “mild criticism.”
I remain puzzled that the Republican Party has not made inroads among African-American voters.
An enigma wrapped in a conundrum.
UPDATE: Wow, the guy is going full metal douchenozzle.