Friday, September 28, 2007

The Piper at the Watergates of Dawn

I'm not a big fan of the prevalent use by the media of the word "gate" at the end of any scandal involving the government for two reasons. First, it implies that the scandal is a much bigger deal than what it usually turns into. "Watergate" deposed a U.S. president, vice president, and a host of other politicians, and made the citizens of the United States extra leery of lawyers, judges and politicians for a good ... year or two. I'm afraid "Closetgate" just can't compare.

Second, and more importantly, the practice is so derivative and cliche now that it shows a real lack of imagination on the part of those who coin the term. It started out, according to Wikipedia, with some French scandal called "Wine-gate", which was an acceptable play on liquids. But then some yahoo coined the term "Koreagate" for an Abramoff-like congressional bribery scandal in 1976, and the precedent for every single scandal since then was set.

In my perfect world, I would ban the use of "-gate" to name any scandal, with one exception. As much as I don't like the overuse of the suffix -gate, I do enjoy plays on words. Therefore, I would create an exception to the ban when the scandal involves the word "water" or possibly some other beverage. Which is why it astounds me that I have yet to read anything about "Blackwatergate".

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