Mississippi Senate candidate in trouble for using 'hanging' in a sentence

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has created a firestorm of controversy for using a metaphor to describe how she felt about an invitation to speak. Hyde-Smith, appointed Senator upon the retirement of Thad Cochrane last April, is running for a full term against former Clinton HHS secretary Mike Espy. Since neither candidate received 50% of the vote on election day, a run off is scheduled for early December.

Mississippi Today:

According to White’s post, after a supporter praised Hyde-Smith, she said to a crowd gathered in Tupelo: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

In an interview with Mississippi Today, White said he did not take the video, which he says was recorded on Nov. 2 — before the election — and has been viewed close to 90,000 times on Facebook. White added that he has not seen the full recording.

Hyde-Smith said she was referring to an invitation to a speaking engagement.

“In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” Hyde-Smith said through a statement.

Hang her from the highest yardarm! (Ooops...can I say that)? What she should have said is how much she enjoyed hanging around with the guy (Damn! Did I just screw up again?) And what happens if she gets a hang nail? (Perish the thought).  

Yes, Mrs. Hyde Smith, it's "ridiculous." 

The campaign of Democrat Mike Espy, who is African American and faces Hyde-Smith in an upcoming runoff election, saw the statement differently, however.

“Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments are reprehensible,” said Danny Blanton, a spokesperson for the Espy campaign in a statement sent to media outlets. “They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country. We need leaders, not dividers, and her words show that she lacks the understanding and judgement to represent the people of our state.”

If anyone bothered to look at her statement, "public hanging" has absolutely nothing to do with lynching - if it even matters. And it doesn't.

The bottom line is the only people who are "offended" by the use of a metaphorical phrase in common usage for a couple of centuries are those who choose to be offended. You have to make a conscious, calculated effort to find what she said inappropriate in any way. In other words, taking offense at her words has nothing to do with hurt feelings, and everything to do with a cold, calculated political move in the midst of a campaign for senator.

As for the media, they have to pretend that what she said was offensive because not doing so would "offend" some of their readers. Anyone over the age of 5 knows that this is a political game being played by the Espy campaign and the media is all in to play it with them. 

This is a pet peeve of mine; hijacking the English language to twist words and phrases, taking them out of context, redefining them, and then unleashing them as part of a political attack. It's despicable. A metaphor is a metaphor. It is not meant to be taken literally.

Using language as a partisan political weapon rather than a means to communicate is about as idiotic as you can get. 


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