Thursday, October 27, 2016

What's a Scumbag?

foam and wastewater in the New River (CNRC)
Is there such a thing as a scumbag? And if so what factors go into turning a person into one? First of all the dictionary defines scumbag as a “contemptible or objectionable person.” But so is a jerk, an idiot, a ne’er-do-well, a crook, a liar. What differentiates the word scumbag from other terms for people who aren’t appealing is the conjunction of the two nouns scum and bag. Scum is defined as “extraneous matter or impurities risen to or formed on the surface of a liquid often as a foul filmy covering” and bag is a “usually flexible container that may be closed for holding.” So in a literal sense the compound word amounts to a vessel filled with waste—something which is tantamount to a toilet. If you call someone a scumbag then you're saying that like a toilet they breathe the kind of toxic effluents that also tend to stink. Are there people whose personalities can be said to be so compromised that they're literally repositories of all that is bad and awful to intake? For instance are dictators and those responsible for genocide scumbags, or could they be described as misguided individuals, whose sometimes purely held conceptions, are merely the result of an inability to conjoin ideas with reality? For instance for all the pain he caused it’s hard to call the Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada, a scumbag when there are so many people who're more qualified for the appellation. You know scumbags, they’re too selfish to be interested in ethnic cleansing. By definition scumbags lack a mission. They’re too busy sitting in their own shit to care about anyone else. They take in enormous quantities of alcohol, food and drugs and end up puking over everyone around them. You’ve read about the hit and run drivers, who're usually intoxicated and leave their victims to die in the streets. These are examples of the kind of people who can rightfully hold the title of scum bag. (“Bronx cyclist killed by hit-and-run driver during deadly weekend," The New York Daily News, 6/12/16)

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