Slate's Jack Shafer comes out in favor of free speech.
Can you imagine writing about politics without the violent metaphors (and dead metaphors... yikes!)? You'd have to give up words like campaign! From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
campaignAnd you know damned well that the people who are calling for the abandonment of violent metaphor are setting themselves up for hypocrisy when they go back to it. It will be so tedious to point it out when the time comes.
1640s, "operation of an army in the field," from Fr. campagne "campaign," lit. "open country," from O.Fr. champagne "open country" (suited to military maneuvers), from L.L. campania "level country" (cf. It. campagna, Sp. campaña, Port. campanha), from L. campus "a field" ... Old armies spent winters in quarters and took to the "open field" to seek battle in summer. Extension of meaning from military to political is Amer.Eng. 1809. ...
"Argument is war" was used as the first example of a metaphor we live by in the book "Metaphors We Live By":
Primarily on the basis of linguistic evidence, we have found that most of our ordinary conceptual system is metaphorical in nature. ...Now, perhaps you think we shouldn't argue anymore and you'd like to deprive us of our war metaphors as a way to make us amiable, uncomplaining citizens in the future. You think that controlling speech would improve the world. But it wouldn't. In fact, it would be... doubleplusungood.
To give some idea of what it could mean for a concept to be metaphorical and for such a concept to structure an everyday activity, let us start with the concept ARGUMENT and the conceptual metaphor ARGUMENT IS WAR. This metaphor is reflected in our everyday language by a wide variety of expressions:
ARGUMENT IS WAR
Your claims are indefensible.
He attacked every weak point in my argument.
His criticisms were right on target.
I demolished his argument.
I've never won an argument with him.
you disagree? Okay, shoot!
If you use that strategy, he'll wipe you out.
He shot down all of my arguments.
It is important to see that we don't just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. We attack his positions and we defend our own. We gain and lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we do in arguing are partially structured by the concept of war. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument — attack, defense, counter-attack, etc. — reflects this. It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; its structures the actions we perform in arguing. Try to imagine a culture where arguments are not viewed in terms of war, where no one wins or loses, where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently. But we would probably not view them as arguing at all: they would simply be doing something different. It would seem strange even to call what they were doing "arguing." In perhaps the most neutral way of describing this difference between their culture and ours would be to say that we have a discourse form structured in terms of battle and they have one structured in terms of dance. This is an example of what it means for a metaphorical concept, namely, ARGUMENT IS WAR, to structure (at least in part) what we do and how we understand what we are doing when we argue. The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another. It is not that arguments are a subspecies of war. Arguments and wars are different kinds of things — verbal discourse and armed conflict — and the actions performed are different kinds of actions. But ARGUMENT is partially structured, understood, performed, and talked about in terms of WAR. The concept is metaphorically structured, the activity is metaphorically structured, and, consequently, the language is metaphorically structured.
Moreover, this is the ordinary way of having an argument and talking about one. The normal way for us to talk about attacking a position is to use the words "attack a position." Our conventional ways of talking about arguments presuppose a metaphor we are hardly ever conscious of. The metaphors not merely in the words we use — it is in our very concept of an argument. The language of argument is not poetic, fanciful, or rhetorical; it is literal. We talk about arguments that way because we conceive of them that way — and we act according to the way we conceive of things.
The most important claim we have made so far is that metaphor is not just a matter of language, that is, of mere words. We shall argue that, on the contrary, human thought processes are largely metaphorical. This is what we mean when we say that the human conceptual system is metaphorically structured and defined. Metaphors as linguistic expressions are possible precisely because there are metaphors in a person's conceptual system. Therefore, whenever in this book we speak of metaphors, such as ARGUMENT IS WAR, it should be understood that metaphor means metaphorical concept.