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story.lead_photo.caption Brenda Looper

One of the funniest things I saw last week came from something not so funny: Israel pre-emptively barring entry (after initially welcoming) of two duly elected U.S. representatives, both of whom are Muslim and have made inflammatory remarks about Israel.

In defending Israel and the president for urging the nation to bar the pair, one person on Twitter, going by the name "Gemstone," decried Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as "anti-semantic."

Uhhhhh ... didja maybe mean "anti-semitic"?

While anti-semitism--hostility to or prejudice against Jews--is nothing to laugh about (let's not even start on the conflation of Judaism and the nation of Israel), anti-semanticism (I'm guessing on the spelling) is. "Semantics" pertains to words, meaning and logic, so to be anti-semantic, that would mean one is against those things.

What did words and/or logic ever do to these people?

Did an English teacher rap their knuckles for dangling a participle? Did a high school debate judge rule for the other team because the anti-semantic team not only skirted essential research but also trotted out every straw-man argument known to man? Do they hate word nerds and dictionaries for pointing out that that word they keep using doesn't mean what they think it does?

Don't irritate the word nerd with your anti-semanticism. She'll hurl the OED at you ... once she gets someone to help her lift it. That sucker's heavy.

She'll also direct you to the word "malapropism," which this seems to be (some might argue it's a Freudian slip, but that's another column). A malapropism, according to Merriam-Webster, is "the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase, especially the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context." Like, maybe, Jesus healing leopards or Texas having a lot of electrical votes.

We all make those little slips. Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, during the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, infamously said, "The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder." Former Texas Speaker of the House Gib Lewis once told legislators at the end of a session, "I want to thank each and every one of you for having extinguished yourselves this session."

It almost seems prescient of the Arkansas Legislature recently, with several of them doing time now. And there was Lewis' plea of no contest to charges similar to the ones here, which resulted in his not seeking re-election in 1992. He indeed extinguished himself.

I make mistakes like this all the time; my tongue likes to get ahead of my brain, so what I'm thinking isn't always what I say. One of the many nicknames for my late furry one was "Butterbear" ... I meant to call the boy "Butterball." He seemed to like the name, though, so it stuck. That's far from the only malapropism I've committed, though, and slips like this are more reason for me to prefer written communication over the spoken word. Written communication can be edited. Good luck trying to re-edit that horribly mangled sentence you just blurted out.

Still, Gemstone's mistake was written ... and both my Android phone and my iPad suggested "anti-semitic" when I typed in "anti-semantic," soooo ...

Richard Sheridan's Mrs. Malaprop would probably see no error in "anti-semantic." Then again, she did say, "She's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile."

Gotta watch out for those allegories. They can be vicious.

I want to clear up a few things on last week's column about the conspiracy theories running wild after the death of Jeffrey Epstein, especially for those who seem to think I'm excusing the Clintons or child sex-trafficking: Seriously?!?

Perhaps it's my upbringing and education, but I've never believed in making flash judgments based on nothing but speculation. It's hard to give credence to anyone who relies on coincidence and their own biases rather than evidence. I believe, as the medical examiner does, that Epstein likely committed suicide. It's no stretch to imagine that a man facing hard time in a federal penitentiary with little to no chance of a sweetheart deal like he had in Florida would decide to deprive victims of closure and justice rather than face the consequences of his actions.

It does no one any good to claim immediately that this or that person took Epstein out of the equation to protect themselves. It certainly doesn't help to battle it out on Twitter with #TrumpBodyCount and #ClintonBodyCount, a fight that deserves to be mocked; not liking someone is no reason to accuse them, without evidence, of murder. These stories tend to survive for decades, no matter how many times they're disproved, which just muddies the water.

Let the professionals do their jobs sans your backseat driving. Perhaps time and investigation will prove that Epstein's death was "helped" by persons with malevolent intentions. But for now, it appears to be suicide aided by incompetence at the detention center, and it was a cowardly act.

The victims deserve a lot better. And not just from Epstein.

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Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at blooper@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 08/21/2019

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