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A taxpayer, describing a tense meeting with an elected county official:

“I said I wished I [had] taken the time to know more about my elected officials before I voted. He responded that this was his last term and my vote really didn’t matter. I couldn’t believe he said that. He later apologized and said he felt I had been ‘playing the vote card’ with him.”

To play the [whatever] card is an old political expression that means something on the order of “to inject a volatile issue into a debate, perhaps making a harmonious resolution even more difficult to achieve.” Playing the race card is one version. In the Little Rock School District difficulties, it appears that both sides are playing the race card.

But I never heard of a politician complaining that a constituent was playing the vote card on him. Playing the vote card is what democracy is all about. Except for the 2000 presidential election, when five members of the Supreme Court prevented voters from playing their cards.

I’ve only recently learned that there was a controversy during the NCAA basketball tournament in March over announcer Billy Packer’s use of the phrase “fag out.” Some people took it as a sexual slur. I don’t like to defend the twerpish Packer, but he’s right in saying that fag out is an old expression that means “to wear out, to exhaust from exertion.” I heard it growing up, probably before I heard fag used the other way.

A similar situation occurred locally a few years back when a university official referred to a tar baby, and some took it as a racial slur. Along with the official, I’d only heard tar baby used in reference to a person or thing difficult to disengage from, like the tar baby Brer Rabbit got caught in. I think age may be a factor in both these incidents.

Man in motion:

“Daugherty made a motion that Welch be retained to represent him and Mitchell.” Third-base coaches make motions. School board members move that a lawyer be retained.

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