The Alabama Moderate

Painting the Red State Purple.

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Who Used the Term First?

Posted by ALmod on December 14, 2009

In an answer to Don, who commented on one of my blog postings just before comments closed– as they do after a month…

I’m going to turn this into a formal request to all of my readers.  Please Google a question before you ask it.  Otherwise, expect a long time before I can respond.  How long?  Well, Don posted his question on the 5th, and I’m just now getting to it, but a quick Google search allowed me to answer his question in about 5 minutes.  A lack of an answer doesn’t mean that I can’t answer.  It just means this…  I’ve been tied up with other things, and I simply don’t have time to answer every email that comes across my desk when you could have answered it yourself.  I’ve had no less than sixteen different people emailing me and wanting to debate in length the entire Tea Party issue, policy issues, and the health care bill(s).  From here on out, if your question starts out with something akin to “What does the health care bill say about…”, please don’t expect anything less from me than, “Here’s the link.   You tell me.”

December is a HORRIBLE month for me almost every year, but this year has been particularly bad.  Of course, the holidays are going to make December quite busy for anyone.  I have no less than five parties to attend every single year whilst toting a toddler and cramming in my last minute shopping that, yes, I should have done in October.  This December, that’s compounded by a few other things.  I had a car accident a couple weeks ago, and it’s taken me quite a bit of time in talking to the other people involved, dealing with the insurance company in totaling out the car, picking up police reports, getting a rental, getting out of the rental, and buying a new car (which involved quite a few days of haggling with dealers and doing research).  That’s not all.  My aunt sent me an invitation to a lesser family holiday event that led me to believe the big party had been rescheduled, so we accidentally scheduled two parties on the same day, but my mother seems to create drama over the fact that we’ll be late (as opposed to not showing up at all).  That’s not all.  My daughter is having some trouble in preschool that has required some parent-teacher conferences, a screening by the local public school system, and appointments and phone calls to a child psychologist for a screening.  The psychologist is supposed to be good, but their office apparently isn’t great about picking up the phone or returning phone calls when you do get through.  That’s not all.  A shipment of Christmas gifts purchased online hasn’t shown up yet, so I’m making calls to THEM to see what the holdup is.

In a nutshell, I’m swamped.

So now, to answer this question in particular, which seems to be the subject of many emails to me from many different people:

The first joke that I can recall was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in March, where he showed footage of Fox News’ Griff Jenkins saying demonstrators were going to “teabag the White House.”  You can find that footage on and various other places.

Here is one of those clips.

As is widely known, the tax day protests were highly PROMOTED (not merely COVERED) by Fox News.  I’ll let Rick Sanchez bust this one for me:

Various footage of Fox promoting the event, even to the point of them labeling the event as a “Fox News Tea Party”:

Speaking of Fox News and promoters…  I’ve already proven to SEVERAL of you via email about how the promoters and Fox News used pictures of other events from as early as the 1970s and represented them as pictures of the tea party protests to make the crowd seem larger.  That was easily proven to be the case, and if for some reason there’s still someone out there who’s going to ask me to prove it, I’d ask you to Google it.  It’s out there and quite easy to find.

By the way, I didn’t happen to notice anything snotty in the way CNN covered the event.  But in particular, pay attention to what starts at about 3:33 in the video, so I hope that when Fox News manufactured this outrage over something that they created (but claim that the liberal left created), nobody takes them seriously.  It’s why I brought up the subject of the photograph thing.  In fact, Fox News making things seem a certain way when it isn’t is nothing new:

Like when they used footage of the wrong event to make crowds look bigger at a later event.

Of course, by the time the jokes started from MSNBC– the most widely distributed source of the “humor”– it was early April.  By then, the meaning had already been widely known, as you can see from reports in February and March of tea party protesters using the term.

Here’s a sign in February.

That was in fact the earliest example of anyone using the term in that manner in regard to the tea party protests, and I’d challenge anyone who says otherwise to provide the evidence to back it up.

Well after the double meaning became widely known, it was still used by many sites promoting the events and people holding signs at the big rally:

Here’s one website.
Here’s one sign.

All that being said, the argument that I keep hearing is that “it wasn’t all of the protesters/promoters or even a large percentage.”  Nevertheless, it was still protesters/promoters who first started using the term.  It was these same protesters/promoters who made up a decent portion of that large crowd that you boasted.  Are you going to say they didn’t count?  Even if they don’t, it’s still completely false to say that anyone from the “liberal left” or began use of the term in reference to tea parties to pick on you.  Your guys used it first, and it was funny.  The other guys just went with it.

Yes, I noticed the term the first time I heard Griff Jenkins utter it, and because I recognized the term without anyone having to tell me I’ve been accused of being crude or hanging out with questionable people simply because I recognized the term.  I’m sorry to break this to you, but I know because I (like 11 million other people) play World of Warcraft, which gives me significant exposure to high school and college age kids and their vernacular.  Anyone under the age of 35 (and some over) will likely be at least vaguely familiar with an urban dictionary and the words held within.  “Teabagging” isn’t exactly an obscure word, either.  In fact, I’d say it’s more widely used than “fallacio. ”  And because of the age of many of the players, it’s become quite common in-game to “teabag” your fallen opponents.  As you can see from the video below, which was made in 2008, it’s typically taken as a psych out or a joke to those you’ve defeated in-game:

By the way, if you are fnot familiar with the terminology used in that video, the jokes will go right over your head.  But please don’t ask me to break it down and explain what this guy’s talking about.  That would require nothing short of a novel.  Instead, I’d recommend a free 14 day trial of the game.  Run to a major city (which you can do at level 1), and read the chat.  After an hour or so, you’ll have a better idea.

Juvenile?  Yes.  Crude?  Maybe.  Out of the mainstream?  Obscure?  Hardly.  World of Warcraft isn’t the only MMOG out there, and I can assure you that the terminology is pretty much the same in all of them and even some outside the game.  And if WoW has well over 11 million subscribers, then imagine how those numbers add up when you include other games.  Does that make me crude?  No.  I just play a game, and part of playing that game exposes me to words that aren’t even necessarily limited to the other players within the gaming community.  It’s like calling folks who watch CSI crude or implying that they’re less morally sound than you simply because they’re familiar with the terminology used on that show.

So if you guys don’t mind, I’m going to be AFK for a while.  I realize this isn’t exactly OOC for me, since I do it a lot, but don’t expect me to run you through any instances anytime soon.


6 Responses to “Who Used the Term First?”

  1. Don said

    ALmod, I apologize for being one of those who commented on your earlier post and caused you to expend so much time composing this response at a time, when as you say, you have so many other things on your platter that have required your attention.

    That said, my comment (in part) that you must be referring to was: Therefore, I’d like to know what your source is for your writing, “keep in mind that the terms “teabag” and “teabagger” were first used by those promoting the events. Once they were made aware of the meaning of the term, they continued to use it and even embraced the alternative meaning of the word.. Perhaps I should have limited my quote of you to only, “Once they were made aware of the meaning of the term, they continued to use it and even embraced the alternative meaning of the word.” because as anyone can tell from reading my entire comment, that last sentence is all that I was asking about.

    I confess that I’m not among the small minority of people who spend time playing games on the internet and was aware of the ugly sexual meaning of “teabagger”, and I readily concede that you’re much more talented than I am if you found all of what you included in this rather lengthy post in just about 5 minutes of “Googling”. It took me many times that, as time permitted, over that past couple of days to just read what you wrote and watch the videos you provided.

    In this, your current post, you wrote, “Of course, by the time the jokes started from MSNBC– the most widely distributed source of the “humor”– it was early April. By then, the meaning had already been widely known, as you can see from reports in February and March of tea party protesters using the term.” which touches on, but hardly comes close to answering my earlier question to you. I found nothing here to support your saying that the word “teabagger” was first used by those promoting the events and I’m confident that you realize that there is quite a difference between someone using the phrase “Tea Bag”, as in “TEA BAG the LIBERAL DEMS” (as in send them tea bags, symbolic of the Boston Tea Party) on a sign and acknowledging that they know the crude meaning that some people assign to the word “teabagger” and that they embrace that meaning of the word.

  2. Adam said

    All right I had to comment about your comment Don quote:”I confess that I’m not among the small minority of people who spend time playing games on the internet…”

    I know it seems silly but that just gets to me, to believe that a “small minority of people” play games online is inaccurate. There are several different numbers floating around that show world wide gamers at over 217 million back in 2007. But I will stick with just the US as a whole and give you information that I found out for that.

    One sources is a poll (yes I know not very accurate but they give you an idea) done by the Washington post in 2006 shows that 1 out of 4 Americans play online video games in some form or fashion.

    Also if you want some more numbers here is some research data from ESA “Entertainment Software Association” That gives you a breakdown of the money, number of units, and estimated people that play games is.

    These numbers show that the “small minority” that you believe play games online is actually a larger MAJORITY of people. Just because you and the people you hang around with do not play online games Does not mean that online gamers are a small minority number of people.

    So to sum it up, you are more likely to bump into someone that plays games online vs someone that just uses it to… oh I don’t know, debate who said teabagging first and in what context.

    So if you’ll excuse me I’m going to get back online and play some games with the rest of the “small minority” of a couple hundred million gamers online.

    Signed Adam
    An Online Gamer

  3. ALmod said

    Online gaming is not a small minority, Don. In fact, statistically speaking one in four people play online and the fastest growing demographic in gaming is stay-at-home moms. World of Warcraft is only one game, and it’s boasting 11 million subscribers.

    Even if the gaming community were so small, the term hardly originated there. I’d actually come across the term before at work, but I’ll admit that it was online where I’ve seen it used the most. However, you might have also noticed it’s usage on the highly rated show “Prison Break” on Fox, which began broadcasting in 2005. (One of the main characters carried the nickname “T-bag” and it was made known as to why.) Mostly, the usage is among those under age 35. Of course, the significance of that is that the under 35 crowd tends to be Democratic voters or at the very least to the left of their older counterparts. Either way, I’m sure you’ll be hard pressed to find many people in the 18-35 range who don’t know what the word “teabag” is referencing. In fact, you might want to take particular notice of the age of the person holding that sign in the first picture referenced.

    Now, when you look at the sign that says, “Tea Bag the liberal Dems…”, I’m sure it’s convenient to think that’s what he meant when you only reference the first half of the sign, but the second half makes that hard to ignore. It’s referencing something akin to an insult in the way that most people would say that [insert legislation here] is akin to telling you to “bend over and take it.” What else do you think was meant by “…before they tea bag you”? Is there some threat of the liberal Democrats wasting tax dollars to mass mail Lipton that I wasn’t aware of?

    The reason I referenced the online gaming community is that, should you participate, you WILL interact with (among other age groups) many teens and college students. Therefore, you become immersed in their vernacular.

  4. Don said

    I’m poor at math, but 11 million (the number of gamers you posted earlier, ALmod) out of almost 7 billion humans seems like a small minority to me. That’s what I based my comment on.

    Interpreting the meaning of the wording on a sign is a crapshoot. I took a crack at it based on what I know about what the symbolism of tea bags means to Tea Party people that I know. You see it differently. You may not be personally acquainted with any Tea Party people.

    Determining what a person carrying a sign is thinking is even more problematic, and somewhat akin to mind reading. Perhaps you have a crystal ball.

    I live in a small, what you might call “too confined”, world. I don’t go to movies or watch them on TV or on the internet. I watch TV very seldom, and then only for weather, some news, or some sports events, or political events on C-SPAN. I’ve never even heard of “Prison Break”. I have very little precious time to expend on such things. You must have more time than I do.

    Count your blessings for the time you have and be thankful for them.

  5. 11 million would be for ONE GAME out of several hundred, Don. World of Warcraft is one game. How many people do you suppose use Facebook? Out of those people, how many use the apps? Guess what? Those are online games. Also not included in those 11 million: Call of Duty, Halo, X-Box Live, PS3, Everquest, Aion, Eve Online, and tons of others. And that’s just online games.

    Other places you might have heard the term “tea bag” referenced before last year: Facebook, high school, college campuses, network television crime dramas, the online Urban Dictionary, news magazine shows on network television, cable news, PG-13 movies, Google, cable and network comedy shows, etc. Just a word of future caution… The phrase “salad toss” might also not mean what you think it does.

    And again, now that you know what that phrase is referencing… What exactly do you think that young man could have meant by the liberal Dems tea bagging you? You did after all say that he didn’t mean what was obviously referenced. You stated that those opposed exposed the alternate meaning first. So what else could he have possibly meant. Is there another meaning to the use of the term “tea bag” as a verb? I mean, heck. When you Google “tea bag” the first entry to pop up is the Urban Dictionary link, so that would imply that it’s the most likely scenario that he would be referring to the most commonly understood meaning of using the term as a verb.

    And to be honest, I never watched Prison Break. Nor do I have an abundance of time. I did hear about it in conversations with friends that did watch it. But again, a 5 minute Google search pops up at least a dozen or so entries, though I’ll admit that writing about them takes a lot more time to do than merely looking at the search results. But regardless as to your own personal exposure to pop culture and vernacular, that does not mean that others who happen to have such exposure are less morally sound than yourself for being so. It’s called a generational culture gap. I also highly doubt you’re familiar with the latest hit song from the Black Eyed Peas or would “get” the humor behind a rather violent mercenary who sings and dances and is fully aware that he’s a comic book character. Likewise, I have never watched a John Wayne movie and probably will never get any reference made to them. Nor will many people of the younger generations understand 8-tracks. There’s also cases of different cultures and their slang terms. Asking for a “fag” in the UK means something entirely different than asking the same question here.

    This is the very reason why most organized groups and corporations (like those promoting the Tea Parties) hire people and pay them very well to catch such things in their promotion. Considering the number of people involved in promoting and organizing the tax day protests (particularly if that number is as large as many would like to argue it is), it’s hard to believe that nobody caught it ahead of time. Rather, I believe it was used intentionally by some (particularly sites like, listed at the bottom of the sign) to create catchy slogans for signs. And yes, they were catchy and humorous. However, it didn’t provoke mockery until it was obvious that some who were completely unaware of the alternate meaning were using it. That’s when it became REALLY funny, because this is what it then reduced an entire movement to looking and sounding like to a very large number (if not a majority) of people:

    Now, imagine correcting the person above and him then insisting that you’re some sort of deviant for knowing such. Additionally, imagine that he’s digging the hole further by insinuating that you brought up some obscure meaning of the words he’s using for the sole purpose of making him look bad rather than simply pointing out the obvious.

  6. Don said

    AlMod, I really do like you and I don’t comment on anyone’s blog to debate. One thing I’ve learned in over ¾ of a century of living is that ladies always insist on having the last word in any discussion.

    I hope you and all of your loved ones enjoy the most Merry Christmas of your lives thus far and that you have a healthy, prosperous, and Happy New Year in 2010.

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