Thursday, July 2, 2009

Willie Herenton: Assman?

Posted by on Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 10:20 AM

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From Wikipedia: Asshole (or arsehole in British English) is slang for the anus and is often used as an insult. It is formed from arse, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary has been used since the 11th century to refer to the rump of an animal and since the 14th century to refer to a person's buttocks. The combined form arsehole is first attested from 1500 in its literal use to refer to the anus. ... Its first appearance as an insult term in a newspaper indexed by Google News is in 1965.

At least the mayor has history on his side. In his interview with Jackson Baker in this week's Flyer, Memphis mayor Willie Herenton called his future congressional opponent, Steve Cohen, an "asshole." In discussing what might have happened if he had run into Harold Ford downtown after a heated phone conversation with the former congressman, Herenton said, "I would have whipped his ass." Is there a pattern here?

There is, and it's classic Willie Herenton verbiage, designed to get attention and stir up a reaction — for better or worse. When Jackson called me after the interview on Monday and drolly reported the mayor's remarks, I was amazed but not shocked. I was also a happy editor, since I knew we had a bombshell quote that was sure to draw readers to the paper and to the website. (Is that so wrong?) As I wrote in my column this week, Herenton is the Memphis media's best friend. That doesn't mean it's good for the city. Just the opposite.

At some point — a long time ago, in Herenton's case — the game grew wearisome. Attention for attention's sake makes Herenton a happy man, but it does nothing to move this city forward. Such name-calling antics are divisive, childish, and create heat, not light, at a time when this city desperately needs to unite and move toward the light of progress.

This adolescent, tough-guy chatter needs to become history. The exception being that most Memphians would probably tell the mayor not to let the screen-door hit him in the ass on the way out.

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