candy-ass faggots

(Tons of abusive and offensive language; some sex talk, but only in passing.)

Another posting from the back files, which somehow got disregarded. Investigating the slang candy-ass, I was taken back to this tale of invective from Peter Cavanaugh’s WordPress blog entry “Rocket to Stardom” from 3/26/09 about radio station WNDR in Syracuse NY (the crucial bit is boldfaced):

WNDR’s News Director was Bud Stapleton, a good “friend of the Judge”. He was tough and mean, a former Marine. Bud was a World War Two vet who spent several serious years “island hopping” in the South Pacific and to whom a peaceful return to civilian life was “a fucking pain in the ass”. He was a certified American hero.

… Syracuse, New York is also the home of Syracuse University and the celebrated Newhouse School of Communications.

The Newhouse faculty regarded “WNDR Action Central News” as professionally falling somewhere in between pig semen and rat vomit. They went out of their way expounding with exhausted exasperation upon the degrading, disgusting, depraving journalistic waste product available every hour on the hour at good old 1260 on their AM dial.

It was a classic case of unbridled mutual contempt.

Bud Stapleton characteristically categorized the Newhouse professors as “Candy-ass faggots who can suck my cock on the 6-0-Clock News”. He made frequent reference to “shoving their fucking ivory tower right up their baby-boy butts”.

And then from USMessage Board on 6/30/11 in a discussion about Glenn Beck’s last day at Fox News:

First observation. the slang term candy-ass. From NOAD:

noun candy-ass: North American informal a timid, cowardly, or despicable person: I’m too much of a candy-ass to be a crab fisherman. adj. candy-ass:  timid, cowardly, or despicable: candy-ass sellouts.

The (metaphorical) idea is that candy-asses are soft people, like chocolate candies, so these lexical items contrast with:

noun hard-ass: a tough, uncompromising person: he had a reputation as a hard-ass. adj. hard-assNorth American informal tough and uncompromising: I just can’t take her seriously as a hard-ass cop.

(The “adjective” senses above are really just the nouns used as modifiers.)

Second observation. A complication. The faggot of candy-ass faggot is itself potentially ambiguous, between its use to refer to a male homosexual and its use as a generic insult; cocksucker is subject to a parallel ambiguity, between a sexual reading and an insult reading. But the insult readings get their power from offense of the sexual readings, so it’s not always easy to tell which one you’re looking at.

However, the two examples I started with are basically pure invective, so I’ll take the faggots to be the insult. With the power of something like scum(bag), with some sexual offensiveness on the side.

Third observation. The compound candy-ass faggots could in principle be understood as having either an intersective or an appositive modifier candy-ass. From my LLog posting of 2/8/07 “Droning on”, about the expression pilotless drones and contrasting:

Intersective modification: the denotation of an Adj N combination is the intersection of the denotations of the Adj and the N. That is, Adj N has the same denotation as N plus a restrictive relative clause containing Adj: N that/who is/are Adj.

Appositive modification: the denotation of an Adj N combination is the same as that of N plus a non-restrictive (a.k.a. appositive) relative clause containing Adj: N, which/who is/are Adj.

Just extend this distinction to N1 + N2 compounds. The compound pinko Communists (with some history in American poltics) is appositive, conveying something like ‘Communists, who are (after all) pinkos’. While the compound rebel Communists is intersective, conveying something like ‘those Communists who are (also) rebels’.

On an appositive reading, the insult compound candy-ass faggots would convey something like ‘scumbags, who are (by the way) candy-asses’ — but they are not. So it’s intersective, referring to those scumbags who are also candy-asses, thereby conveying a double insult.

More ass items. Beyond candy-ass and hard-ass, from NOAD:

noun badassNorth American informal [a] a tough, uncompromising, or intimidating person: one of them is a real badass, the other’s pretty friendly. [b] a formidably impressive person: she is so wonderful, so sweet, so rad, so amazing; she’s a badass. adj. [a] tough, uncompromising, or intimidating: a badass demeanor. [b] formidable; excellent: this was one badass camera.

The b senses are lovely examples of deliberate semantic reversal: they’re so bad they’re good.

And then, from my 12/16/15 posting “Go H+A+R+D”:

His cute ass. An ambiguity here: M-Dig treasuring Kenny Boy’s buttocks, and the anus that is their centerpiece; or him treasuring Kenny Boy the man, with his cute ass used as a pronominal expression. For the second sense, with possessive pronoun + ass used as a pronominal, there is in fact some linguistic literature, namely

John Beavers & Andrew Koontz-Garboden, A universal pronoun in English? Linguistic Inquiry 37.3.503-13 (2006)

One example (of a number) from this paper: “their asses sure know how to fuckin’ jam” ‘they sure know how to jam’. Yes, the construction is very much street vernacular (but not specifically black street vernacular)

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