March 5, 2012

"Slut meant female dog once too."

Comments rhhardin, in the "What exactly did Rush Limbaugh apologize for?" post, below. That made me look up "slut" in the Online Etymology Dictionary:
slut

c.1400, "a dirty, slovenly, or untidy woman," probably cognate with dialectal Ger. Schlutt "slovenly woman," dialectal Swed. slata "idle woman, slut," and Du. slodder "slut," but the ultimate origin is doubtful. Chaucer uses sluttish (late 14c.) in reference to the appearance of an untidy man. Also "a kitchen maid, a drudge" (mid-15c.; hard pieces in a bread loaf from imperfect kneading were called slut's pennies, 18c.). Meaning "woman of loose character, bold hussy" is attested from mid-15c.; playful use of the word, without implication of loose morals, is attested from 1660s.
Our little girl Susan is a most admirable slut, and pleases us mightily. [Pepys, diary, Feb. 21, 1664]
Sometimes used 19c. as a euphemism for bitch to describe a female dog. There is a group of North Sea Germanic words in sl- that mean "sloppy," and also "slovenly woman," and that tend to evolve toward "woman of loose morals" (cf. slattern, also English dial. slummock "a dirty, untidy, or slovenly person," 1861; M.Du. slore "a sluttish woman").
What provoked rh to talk about the bitch/slut connection was Richard Lawrence Cohen saying:
Is Fluke going to sue, or is she suing, this son of a bitch for defamation? I would think it's defamation per se.
Which prompted me to say:
Is Limbaugh's mother going to sue you for calling her a dog? She's clearly not a dog.

34 comments:

garage mahal said...

The Althouse Rehabilitate Rush Action Plan!

m stone said...

So, is it defamation or not?

The left would rally around Fluke if it were, or are they just slow-witted?

I wonder about about this Cohen guy.

edutcher said...

Well, aren't the feminists always saying a man is aggressive, a woman is bitchy?

So, he was complimenting her.

Kirby Olson said...

Public discourse is covered by the first amendment, isn't it? Have there been any successful lawsuits that disallowed any particular words in public discourse? I think if you said that someone had committed a crime while knowing they hadn't you could get sued, but you can't get sued for calling someone a slut, since it's not a crime to be a slut. I do think he also implied she could be a prostitute, but I think he made it clear that this was a speculation, rather than an assertion of fact. so I think he's entitled to his opinion. Just as she's entitled to hers.

Joe said...

"a drudge"

So The Drudge Report could be The Slut Report?

Meade said...

m stone said...
"I wonder about about this Cohen guy."

Don't worry - he's all bark, no bite.

Ann Althouse said...

@ m stone Read about Hustler v. Falwell.

No one understands Rush to have literally meant that Fluke is a prostitute.

I don't see any lie. He doesn't even assert that she has sex 3 times a day. He only makes a (stupid) calculation based on her statement about contraception expenses.

Kirby Olson said...

The courts are getting pretty sleazy if not downright slutty (in my opinion) so maybe they would still take the case, and rule on it, but I don't know if there is any precedent for this. It would definitely cause quite a clampdown on the radiowaves if a court found against Limbaugh on this. He has to dance on the lines of controversy in order to get listeners. He's basically doing a jig for money. They don't have to do this on NPR because they don't need advertising dollars. Their money comes from the Obama government, it's their propaganda wing. Maybe there should be an accommodation in which Limbaugh gets to broadcast at RUSH HOUR via NPR in exchange for toning down his slutty sleazy sloppy silly commentary, and making himself as anodine as possible, so as to fit in with the sleazy sluts of the sleepy left (just my opinion).

Matthew said...

"a drudge"

So The Drudge Report could be The Slut Report?

-- No, that's The National Enquirer. (See: Edwards, John)

traditionalguy said...

Hold your breath. Rush might start a bombastic proclamation about the money that taxpayers can save by pre-teen cliterectomy for slut prevention.

The man just hasn't got a clue.

Rialby said...

The discovery process in said trial should be fun.

cubanbob said...

tradguy maybe he should advocate for sterlizing the poor, think of all the welfare money the taxpayers can save.

As for Fluke I fail to see why Rush appologize. She is what she is..

In the end this going to blow up in the democrat's face.
when reduced to it's logical conclusion they are saying to the taxpayers " we want you to pay higher taxes and insurance premiums to subsidize other people's sex lives".

Now there is a winning argument. Go dems! Go!

Rialby said...

"He only makes a (stupid) calculation based on her statement about contraception expenses."

You keep implying it's crazy for people to dissect what Fluke said in sworn testimony before Congress. She specifically used quantitative data to make her case. In doing so, she opens herself up to analysis of those numbers. Had she said, "my friends spend $10 a year on contraception" vs. "$1k per year" her testimony would have lacked teeth. By saying $1k, which is 9x the cost of the BCP from Target, it makes it clear that SOMEONE has to run the numbers and ask WHY the numbers are so high.

Simon Kenton said...

"Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time."

Shakespeare, Sonnet 55

Circa 1590, it meant unkempt or grimy, without moral overtones. Words beginning in "sl," "sm," and "sn" tend to have their meanings degrade over time.

n.n said...

Perhaps it's time for a SlutWalk to remind them of what they are fighting for.

Lyssa said...

Sort of OT, but related to the meaning of the word "slut" over time - Slate has a podcast, called Lexicon Valley, that explores word usage, and they did a really interesting one recently about the history of the word "faggot." It has somewhat a similar history, in that it was once a slur for a woman, but then somehow became one for a man who acts womanly in some ways.

I highly recommend it.

Aridog said...

Ms Fluke seems to have difficulty with numbers: School Bio posted elsewhere today.

So she entered Cornell at 11 years of age ... or is she really 30 now?

Rusty said...

"faggot."
A tight bundle of sticks used to build a fire.

Lyssa said...

Aridog, she is 30 now (I think earlier reports said 23, but they've since been confirmed to be incorrect).

That would be about right. I'm recently 32, and she was in undergrad a year behind me.

Of course, I, being from a lower middle class family, went to a state school and bought my own damn contraceptives. :)

Lyssa said...

Rusty said: "faggot."
A tight bundle of sticks used to build a fire.


Yeah, it discussed that and how the slur might have arose out of it. No one's sure, but one theory was that a woman would gather the faggot, and therefore, she came to be associated with it (similar to calling a woman "an old broom"), but another theory was that men carried the faggot and were burdened by it, and the woman is considered a burden as well (similar to saying "ball and chain"). It was interesting and made you really think about how slurs come to be.

Sigivald said...

Defamation per se is a pretty restricted thing, isn't it?

And especially from a political commentator known for highly charged rhetoric...

(Indeed, given the modern examples of "slutwalks" and actions against "slut shaming", the problem would be trying to explain how people taking part in those mass movements of Feminism aren't self-defaming, if it's defamation per se.)

LilyBart said...

He only makes a (stupid) calculation based on her statement about contraception expenses

I have yet to hear HER explanation for the $3000 figure. Seems high to me. Seems like some sort of high extreme intended to garner emotional support for her case, rather than an analytical argument

Roux said...

She is what she is.... I think it is rather slutty to go in front of the world and cry that they need to pay for your birth control pills so you can have sex anytime you want.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Random thoughts:

In what conceivable language is the surname "Fluke" pronounced "fluck"? Involuntarily, I found myself thinking of Mel Brooks and "Fronkenshtehn" and I-gor."

As I read the relevant bits of the administrative revisions to the PPACA, the zero-copay bit applies only to contraceptives intended to be used as such. IOW, if you are prescribed The Pill for dysmenorrhea, you have to pay for it; it's only if you want it for carefree bonking that it's free. This is quite a change from my own adolescence, when girls pretended to have painful periods so that they could get on The Pill. I actually did have painful periods; I got through them on ... aspirin. Go fig.

Oh, and "faggot": It is also the German word for "bassoon." (Cognates in the Romance languages -- "fagotto" in Italian, &c.) Presumably because a bassoon does loosely resemble a bundle of sticks.

Beldar said...

FWIW, in Marshall v. Mehaffy, 974 S.W.2d 942, 949-50 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 1998, pet'n denied), in order to determine whether venue requirements had been met, the appellate court had to examine the plaintiff's pleadings and prima facie evidence to decide whether she had a viable slander claim. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant had referred to her as "sleazy," a "slut," a "gold-digger," and a "pole dancer." The appellate court summarized the applicable Texas law as follows (citations omitted):

"Slander is a defamatory statement that is communicated or published to a third person without legal excuse. A statement that tends to injure a person's reputation, exposing her to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or financial injury is defamatory. A statement is also defamatory if it tends to impeach that person's honesty, integrity, or virtue. Imputation of sexual misconduct is slander per se and thus actionable without proof of damage."

The court went on to hold that as a matter of law, the statements about the plaintiff were "capable of the defamatory meaning" that the plaintiffs alleged; that those statements "question[ed the plaintiff's] honesty, integrity, and virtue, and impute sexual misconduct"; and that the defendant's "language was not ambiguous or doubtful and implie[d] false statements of objective fact." Based on these findings (and others relating to publication, the appellate court ruled that the record "support[ed] the existence of a cause of action for slander."

Kirby Olson said...

They're just words. "Stick and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me."

This woman isn't going to be a very tough litigator.

The rest of us learned the adage above in kindergarten and it was good enough.

Saint Croix said...

Sort of OT, but related to the meaning of the word "slut" over time - Slate has a podcast, called Lexicon Valley, that explores word usage, and they did a really interesting one recently about the history of the word "faggot." It has somewhat a similar history, in that it was once a slur for a woman, but then somehow became one for a man who acts womanly in some ways.

Faggot means bundle of sticks.

I believe they still say "smoke a fag" in the UK (in reference to a cigarette).

So I suspect it's a reference to burning people at the stake.

Carol_Herman said...

Yup. Lessons in "root words."

While the GOP is still known as THE STUPID PARTY!

Carol_Herman said...

A bassoon is a nice instrument. It can make fart sounds. It hoists a good petard.

Rush wiped Mitt's victory lap (prior to Super Tuesday, t'marra, right off the map.

ken in sc said...

What about those MSNBC commentators, David Letterman, and Bill Maher who called Laura Ingrahm, Ann Coulter, Sara Palin, and her daughters sluts or slutty, or trash? Where's the firestorm about that? Palin's daughter was called a slut because she didn't use birth control. Is that the new standard? You're a slut if you don't use it but not if you do? So much for a level playing field.

30yearProf said...

Whenever a political opponent calls me a "Prick," I can hear the capital "P" and my mental response is that he or she's jealous.

I choose to take it as a compliment. I'm so good that I've rendered my opponent speechless (or at least inconsequential).

Never respond. That's what he wants (in this case, millions in free advertising for his show). If the target just keeps on flying, no one will notice the gunner.

Controversary does not, let me repeat that, DOES NOT hurt a talk show host.

Hunter Clarke said...

@ken in sc

Not to mention the many, many uses of "teabagger", "teabagging", etc.

Duncan said...

In a less enlightened era, implying that a chaste woman was unchaste was libel per se.

In the modern era, perhaps implying that a woman is chaste might constitute libel per se.

It's so hard to figure out what one can say these days.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Saint Croix,

Yes, cigarettes are "fags" in the UK, but I doubt the word has any direct connection to burnings at the stake. (Though there is the line from Henry VI Part Two (I think), during the burning of Joan of Arc -- "let there be faggots enow."

Carol_Herman,

A bassoon is a nice instrument. It can make fart sounds.

To make super-realistic fart sounds, you don't need a whole bassoon; a bassoon reed will do. A counselor at a music camp I once attended supposedly taught all the kids how to make bassoon reeds for that very purpose, but she was unfortunately no longer there when I attended.