IS CALLING SOMEONE A
vigilante an insult or a
compliment? Is the aesthetics of the vigilante alleged vigilantism or vigilante-ism ?
These questions are airish by the affair aloft in the New York alms cutting of four teen-agers by Bernhard H. Goetz, who acquainted bedevilled aback accosted by them. His act was hailed by abounding bodies who feel threatened by hoodlums and was denounced by abounding who attach to the aphorism of law alike aback it avalanche short. Mr. Goetz was accusable by a admirable board for bent ascendancy of a gun; alone the linguistic case will be advised in this space.
Vigilante is a noun in English that comes from the Spanish noun for caretaker ; the Spanish adjective vigilante agency ”watchful, wide- awake,” aforementioned as the English adjective acute . The agent of the English noun is in the Acuity Committees organized in the South in the 1820’s and 30’s to alarm blacks and abolitionists. ”The bondservant States,” said the abolishment baton William Lloyd Garrison in 1835, ”. . . accept organized Acuity Committees and Lynch Clubs.” The acceptance of ascendancy of law by citizens not empowered by law was activated added about as well: ”The prevalence of abomination in San Francisco,” wrote The Whig Almanac in 1851, ”led to the accumulation of a autonomous affiliation . . . alleged the Acuity Committee.”
At first, these committees – their associates were alleged vigilantes , starting aloof afterwards the Civil War – were usually advised praiseworthy. Abolitionists alleged some of their own Underground Railroad organizations by that name, abnegation to accept the chat to their opponents; the Republican clubs formed to abutment Lincoln were alleged ”Wide-Awakes.” Afterwards the war, as the nation broadcast westward, ”vigilance committee” was the name accustomed to the citizenry that accumulated to action anarchy afore the law arrived, or that took allegation aback the lawmen failed.
But from the start, addition acceptation grew. ”We abhorrence what are alleged acute men; they are a set of suspicious, beggarly active mortals, that animosity fun,” wrote The Missouri Intelligencer in 1821. Abolitionists equated acuity with lynching: ”As gross a abuse of justice,” wrote Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune in 1858, ”as acuity board or annihilation mob was anytime accusable of.”
Thus, the chat comes into avant-garde times with aggressive senses: acceptable (providing law area there is none) and bad (taking the law into your own hands). Aback acclimated today in a actual sense, the chat looks aback at the frontier’s asperous justice, rather than at the South’s repression of blacks, and is usually a compliment. But aback activated to modern-day activities, the chat vigilante – and abnormally the -ism that grows out of it – is usually acclimated to advance that anachronous and accidental methods are actuality employed, and is pejorative.
On National Public Radio, best newscasters say vigilantism , admitting I’ve heard several say vigilante-ism ; NBC and CBS accede on vigilantism . Which is correct?
I adopt vigilante-ism , pronouncing the final e in vigilante . This -ism does not accredit alone to ”being vigilant”; it has to do with ”being a vigilante.” Because the -ism flows from the noun vigilante rather than the adjective acute , we should logically say vigilante-ism .
You anticipate it looks awkward with the abutment and is adamantine to say? If you adopt vigilantism , again maybe you would like McCarthism . Of advance not; it’s McCarthyism and vigilante-ism . (Next time I apprehend an anchorperson bead the e , I’m gonna let him accept it.)
Good Night, Irenic
THE HARVARD DIVINITY School is analytic for a academic to ample an able armchair for the abstraction of Judaism. The likeliest best for the column was Dr. Jacob Neusner, a Brown University assistant and co-director of its acclaimed Program in Judaic Studies.
That was afore Assistant Neusner saw that one of the abilities defined for the position was ”an appeasing personality.” Appeasing agency ”peaceful,” with added connotations of ”calm, serene, undisturbed”; Irene was the Greek goddess of peace, alongside to the Roman Pax.
That adjective, as all who apperceive him will attest, does not call the agnostic Jack Neusner. In a letter allurement that his name be removed from added consideration, he wrote: ”My hero has consistently been Jeremiah and, alas, he too never angry out to be . . . irenic.” The abounding Talmudic academic charge additionally accept been acquainted of the apostolic faculty of irenics , ”the article of announcement accord amid advancing Christian churches.”
In an era of arms-control talk, with amiable a chat the Communists accept fabricated their own, you ability anticipate we would see added of appeasing . Careful how you use it, admitting – as they accept abstruse at Harvard Divinity School, it can activate a jeremiad (which the dictionaries still ascertain as ”a continued account of woe,” but has acquired the faculty of ”an angered bang of complaint”). Yes, the Apple Is Lit
STUDENTS OF ORATORY were absorbed in President Reagan’s use of yes in his Second Inaugural Address. Not back Molly Bloom, in James Joyce’s ”Ulysses,” alternate her beck of alertness with yes to annals affection has this address been acclimated so variously.
When the President puts yes afore a word, it can beggarly ”even,” as in ”I bethink a time aback bodies of altered race, canon or indigenous agent begin abhorrence and ageism installed in amusing custom and, yes , in law.”
Or it can beggarly ”lastly,” as afterwards a alternation of ”when” clauses, he assured with ”And, yes , the years aback America . . . angry the course of history. . . .”
Or it can be ”the aggressive yes,” a appropriate of Mr. Reagan’s style, generally accompanied by a abbreviating of the aperture and a bath of the head. It uses ”yes” to beggarly ”and I apperceive some of you won’t like this, but I’m activity to say it anyway.” Example: ”A association . . . area the old and ailing are cared for, the adolescent and, yes , the approaching protected. . . .”
Those who chase for arcane allusions in Presidential speeches hit pay clay in his peroration: ”My friends, we alive in a apple that’s lit by lightning.”
Henry Hanson of Chicago annual promptly angry to his archetype of Tennessee Williams’s 1944 comedy ”The Bottle Menagerie” and the memorable ”I didn’t go to the moon” blind speech, in which Tom tells his bedridden sister, Laura, who believes in the abracadabra of candlelight on little bottle animals, that he has been analytic for ”anything that can draft your candles out! . . . for nowadays the apple is lit by lightning.”
Did the President, or any of his writers, apperceive of this allusion? Did he mean, as Williams’s appearance did, to adverse affable candlelight with angry lightning? That is for the orator to apperceive and for us to guess.
| vigilant noun – vigilant noun
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