The past two weeks have been quite historic in terms of political and social upheaval and Supreme Court decisions. Nine African-Americans were tragically killed during a Bible study session in Charleston, South Carolina, leading to nation-wide calls to take down the Confederate battle flag from all public buildings. The Supreme Court handed down two landmark decisions, one making the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) the law of the land, and also making same-sex marriage legal under federal law.
I have been reading the reports in the news looking for examples of new and interesting metaphor usage. However, there were none that warranted a complete blog post. I must mention that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia called the Obamacare ruling “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” I was tempted to do a post on this wonderful phrase, but I am afraid that I have no idea what he is talking about. I was also tempted to analyze the metaphors used in President Obama’s wonderful eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, a pastor and state representative killed in the Charleston attack, but, out of respect for the victims and the families of that horrible tragedy, I will not subject the eulogy to an academic analysis at this time. You can read the full text here if you would like to see President Obama’s soaring rhetoric in the eulogy.
Instead, today I would like to call your attention to another phrase I heard on the news lately, of an action in Congress that would not “bear fruit” due to public opposition. With summer in full swing, farmers’ markets are selling amazing fruits and vegetables these days. Even if you are not a gardener, most people would admit nothing tastes better than fruit picked fresh from its orchard’s branches, or a vegetable picked fresh from the garden. In a salute to our local farmers who work so hard to bring us fresh fruit and vegetables, here are a few metaphors based on terms used to describe growing fruit in orchards. Processes and results of growing fruit trees are used to describe political activities. The condition and flavor of certain fruits can be used to describe people or attitudes toward situations.
One plants a fruit tree hoping it will bear fruit year after year. If not, the tree is fruitless. In politics, a successful operation is said to bear fruit; a failed operation or pointless activity is said to be fruitless.
Example: If a candidate wins an election, the party can celebrate the fruits of their labors to have that person elected.
Example: Everyone thought it was fruitless to support a candidate who had confessed to not paying his taxes since the people would not elect him if they could not trust him.
Not all fruits are ripe at the same time. The ripe fruits must be picked while the others remain on the tree. In politics, cherry picking means some parts of proposals, laws or documents are considered while others are left out.
Example: Some of the senators just cherry picked the parts of the new bill they wanted to complain about and eliminate, while leaving others unmentioned.
A bad person is sometimes referred to as a bad apple, i.e., one that has spoiled and could possible spoil other apples nearby.
Example: That lobbyist who was arrested and jailed for fraud was not typical; he was just a bad apple in the group of honest workers.
If grapes are beginning to spoil, their sweet taste will turn sour. If people complain about something, they can be said to have sour grapes.
Example: We hope the candidate who loses the election does not have sour grapes and complain too much. He or she needs to stay positive and look forward to the next election.
A transplant is a small vegetable plant or tree grown from a seed and later moved to the field when it is older and stronger. In social terms, a transplant is a person who moves from one area of the country to another.
Example: Transplants from conservative parts of the country tend to vote Republican no matter where they move.
Next time: The 4th of July!