Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Taking ‘Tea Party’ Back

Eloise blowing raspberries at political tea-partiersMy wife loves nothing more than outfitting our grand- daughters (and, more recently, grandson) and taking them out to tea when we visit them in Denver. In fact, on our last visit her birthday party was a tea party with both our sons and their families at the lovely House of Commons tea shop in downtown Denver. It was a huge affair attended by all, even three-month-old Eloise (seen at the left in her special tea-party dress blowing raspberries at anyone who would sully the expression “tea party” with politics).

The term “tea party” already has a pleasant, totally apolitical meaning that has been around for centuries. Our founding fathers used it in jest in referring to their very specific political attack as “The Boston Tea Party”. The use was a joke in good taste and the use of the word “tea” was relevant.

The term is now being sullied by corporate forces having nothing whatsoever to do with tea, nothing to do with the independence of the United States, and with undertones of skullduggery that the tender thoughts of kindness and civility associated with tea parties do not deserve.

I know this is a lone voice in the wilderness and after the midterm elections the misuse of this breath of lexical and social loveliness will probably fade from the air waves. However, I wish to engage the same rights of free speech as the political “Tea Partiers” claim and register my dismay at the corruption of this innocent expression of social civility that raises such fond memories for most of us.

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