While we’re on the topic of euphemisms, I want to show you one of the most intriguing.
The purpose of euphemisms, as in the case of the two in the recent Ethics Alarms Quiz, is often to avoid legal consequences. The Bush Administration didn’t want to brazenly violate the treaties it has signed banning torture, so it came up with a description of torture that made it seem like something else. President Obama doesn’t want to be accused (though he is anyway) of joining a war without Senate consent, so his Administration is calling the Libyan adventure a “kinetic military action.”
But they are both amateurs compared to the on-line marketers of brass knuckles, those deadly metal devices one puts over one’s fingers to give an adversary the beating of his soon to be shortened life. Brass knuckles are illegal in many countries, and in most states here; their sale is also prohibited in various ways, and as weapons, they are subject to other regulations. The companies that sell them on-line, however, get around all this by calling them…
Here is a typical ad for brass knuckles on a website called Keepshooting.com…certainly a strange name for an office accessory supplier:
“Brass Knuckle Belt Buckle Paperweights are on sale now! Each Brass Knuckle Paperweight is very sturdy, enough to hold down even the tallest stack of paper. Get two brass knuckles and you will surely be able to put them to good use in these dangerous times!
Wow. Nobody is deceived; this isn’t false advertising. And you could, if you were a moron, actually use the ugly things as paperweights ( As a belt buckle? I’m dubious.) Meanwhile, they have deniability if any law enforcement officials claim that they are selling weapons.
Now THAT’s what I call a euphemism!
[Thanks to my son, Grant Marshall, for the tip. But why is he looking up brass knuckle ads?]