Notes From Babel

Getting Ham-Fisted about Child Nutrition

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From Obama’s Obesity War at Reason Foundation, discussing Madam Obama’s efforts to change Americans’ food choices:

There are several reasons behind the backlash. One is that campaigns to promote healthy behavior have a way of escalating from friendly persuasion to ham-fisted propaganda and prohibitionism.

I found the comparison to fists made out of ham an amusing bit of imagery given the context, albeit probably unintentional.  (However, I have elsewhere lodged my objection to the term “ham-fisted,” preferring “ham-handed” instead, and even then only where precision is of little concern.)

It reminded me of an idea I had for a paper that I pitched to my intellectual property law professor concerning internet pornography.  It my pitch, I discussed one of the “seminal” cases on the relevant legal question.  Once I was alerted to the potentially disgusting implications of that particular word in that particular context, I’ve never been able to use it again in any context without being reminded of what it really means.

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Written by Tim Kowal

December 17, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Posted in Language

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