Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Semantics of Weight

It’s easy to make jokes about Chris Christie’s weight. After all, even he’s admitted it’s an obstacle to any Presidential campaign he might launch, and once you open that door, people will step into the breach. Connecting his weight to his niggardly attitude towards other people, such as the poor or the long-term disabled, is within bounds, I think.

I’m not above making weight jokes, to be sure. Like smoking, it’s most often a behavioral problem and therefore generally controllable. I keep in the back of my mind, however, two things: one, it’s important to know the boundaries of taste and harm, and two, there but for the grace of God go I, having been abruptly reminded last year that I was bordering on obesity myself (BMI near 29) and even after losing that all-important first twenty pounds, the last twenty never really seemed to come off.

So it may be a controllable issue, but it’s a struggle, no different from poverty or illness, and we need to respect that.

So it surprised me a little to see this on

A New Jersey judge is set to hear an emergency request to block the testimony of a political ally of Governor Chris Christie today before the state Assembly about a traffic scandal that has drawn national attention.

The ally, David Wildstein, sued yesterday to quash a subpoena compelling his testimony over closures in September of lanes in Fort Lee, New Jersey, that lead to the George Washington Bridge, which connects with Manhattan. The closures snarled traffic for four days and now threaten to tarnish the image of Christie, a Republican weighing a run for president.

Now, it’s a common phrase, to be sure and I don’t want to put myself out there as some bluenose grammatician, but it seems to me some editor or other might have used a different wording like “considering”. “Pondering” is also possible, although the adjectival form of that, ponderous, carries some connotations of bulky and ungainly.

In this instance, on this story, it seems a cheap shot.