Lame taboo avoidance

From the Washington Post on the 27th, the story “Lindsey Graham pours beers, contemplates marrying Carly Fiorina’ by David Weigel, beginning:

Boulder, Colo. — Low poll numbers almost kept him out of Wednesday’s “undercard” CNBC debate, but Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s presidential campaign made it to Colorado — and took him into territory where few campaigns would tread. Graham (R-S.C.) was the inaugural guest at CNN’s “Politics on Tap” happy hour, its first celebrity bartender and its first participant in a twist on a somewhat salacious name game usually reserved for slumber parties.

The game has a variety of names — kill, fuck, marry;  fuck, marry, killfuck, marry, dumpmarry, fuck, kill — but all have fuck in them, and most have kill as well.

(Hat tip to Ann Burlingham.)

The WaPo story continues:

Graham, whose family owned a bar in Central, S.C., took to the evening with aplomb, posing for pictures and joking with the journalists and activists who’d RSVP’d. Egged on by CNN’s David Chalian and Dana Bash, he poured pints and shots for party attendees.

“To the Donald!” Graham said, after pouring several rounds of Jack Daniel’s and joining in a toast.

Shortly thereafter, Bash conducted an interview that veered between jokes and pathos. The altitude of the city (5,430 feet above sea level) and the potency of the spirits loosened the evening considerably; Graham, who does not typically hold his tongue, dished about diplomatic trips, mocked his 2014 primary opponents, and praised the ability of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton to hold their liquor.

…Bash concluded the lighthearted part of the evening with a game. “There is a fun bar game, which I will clean up, because we are in mixed company, and on television,” said Bash. “So, I’m going to call it: Date, marry, or make disappear forever.”

There were laughs and murmurs from the audience. The game Bash was referring to had an unprintable name; “make disappear forever” was a stand-in for “kill,” and “date” was taking the place of a word that, in Bash’s words, “rhymes with truck.” The choices were Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, and Sarah Palin.

“You don’t want me to do the Mormon thing here,” said Graham, an apparent reference to plural marriage.

“Date, marry, or make disappear forever,” said Bash. “Take your time, senator.”

Apparently, in the classic version of the game, you are given three names of people and asked to assign the people to the choices, one to each choice; that is, you are asked to rank the three candidates, with kill for the least desirable and marry for the most. (Graham seems to know a less stringent version of the game, in which you say for each person what choice you make, leaving open the possibility of marrying more than one — or of killing more than one, or of fucking more than one.)

Graham said he would date Palin, but seemed to mean date-date, not euphemism-date; that he would marry Fiorina, because she’s rich; and he avoided answering about Clinton.

Dating as a euphemism for having sex is new to me, and the verb date as a stand-in for fuck (or screw or ball) strikes me as singularly lame euphemizing. Make disappear forever for kill is, if anything, worse: long and clunky, it doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. Now it’s true that a fair number of verbs that might have started as euphemisms for kill have simply become slang synonyms of it and so are subject to the same anxieties about talking about death that kill might arouse: waste, off, whack, bump off, rub out. Terminate and neutralize might still count as euphemistic, but in the context of a somewhat nasty game, I can’t see any reason to avoid kill.

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