Origins of the term "teabag party" and/or "teabaggers"?
May 6, 2010 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Help me find an interview or article that quotes someone from the Tea Party movement calling themselves the "teabag party" or "teabaggers". I would also accept a Tea Party website that has an old page using those terms.

I have checked the MeFi posts and AskMes tagged Tea Party, teabaggers, teabag party and I'm not finding my answer -- help!

I find people using the term "teabaggers" and I seem to recall that the Tea Party movement themselves started out calling themelves the teabag party, but I cannot find any source that would be acceptable to conservatives that shows that history. Am I mis-remembering? If my mermory is incorrect, I want to know that as well.

I am now seeing all kinds of complaints in my FB stream about being called "teabaggers" and how it is dirty and how mean and pottymouthed "liberals" are, help me counteract these with facts! I want to show that no one came up with the name for them, but made fun of them when they did it to themselves. I would think that there would be a quote from someone who self identifies with the Tea Party using the terms "teabag party" or "teabaggers".

I know I probably shouldn't bother...I do not bother engaging when it is just opinions flying around and I've given up on family etc. that insist that Obama is a "socialist' or that the US is becoming a "socialist"/communist/whatever country. I do however, try and counter obvious mistatements of fact
posted by Librarygeek to Society & Culture (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For what it's worth, I've never heard anyone who self-identifies with the Tea Party use the term "tea-bagger" unless they were unaware of its pejorative and more obscene meanings. If you catch one or two people self-describing as "tea-baggers" without knowing any of the alternative meanings of the term, does that validate your use of it?

If you're going to be respectful and counter obvious statements with facts, why not just try to avoid terms that might be construed as offensive, regardless of who first threw them around.
posted by drpynchon at 8:12 AM on May 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

So I began typing "call themselves" into Google and auto-complete's top suggestion was "call themselves teabaggers" I guess this is a popular question! Here's a link I found by way of the aforementioned search that should provide the answers you're looking for.

As far as I can tell, some Pollyannas early on in the movement called themselves "teabaggers" and wanted to "tea bag" liberals without being aware of what the phrase meant. Then when they were informed, most abandoned that phraseology right away. There were still a few, however, that wore the name proudly. This article from last December suggests that it's a "conservative N-word" that is offensive in public contexts but still used by some to refer to allies in the movement, in private situations.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:21 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you tried image searches? I clearly remember images of an older white woman with tea bags attached to her hat and a sign using the word "teabagger."
posted by werkzeuger at 8:25 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is not what you're looking for, but my dad recently called himself a Tea Bagger. (To be fair, I don't think he has any idea what that term actually means, and it was a slip of the tongue, but it was still a little weird!)
posted by too bad you're not me at 8:26 AM on May 6, 2010

I just came across this: A People's History of Teabag.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:27 AM on May 6, 2010

Blogger/Washington Post writer David Weigel's entire beat is the conservatives and Tea Party. He's got several posts already on this very subject just from the last week.

Also check out Talking Points Memo and John Cole's Balloon Juice.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:30 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

In case you don't want a bunch of pinko links proving your point (ha!) here's a National Review OpEd/Article about where it came from.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 8:32 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

You are going to run into the problem that it isn't like the Tea Party movement has a centralized voice so the chances that you can find someone self-identifying as a Tea Bagger approaches 100%.

With that said, I believe the name evolution goes like this:

Starts as the Tea Party...both as an acronym (Taxed Enough Already) and as a reference to the Boston Tea Party.

Then, Rachel Maddow and Ana Marie Cox went on a roll enjoying themselves with mocking the tea bagging name. That's from early April 2009 and if you dig through Nexus and what not I am sure you will find lots of contemporaneous articles written by people chastising Maddow, Cox et al for misusing the movement's name for the easy joke.

Since then, I have seen some on the right on tv (although not necessarily Tea Part movement people) say the words "Tea Bag" and "Tea Baggers" in a non-pejorative way but a.) you have no idea if it was a slip of a tongue and b.) the movement did mail many a tea bag to congress.

As an aside re:socialism. I've heard it argued by linguistics that since English words mean whatever large groups of people mean them to be, it is quite possible that the term Socialism will have its official dictionary meaning amended at some point (it isn't like there haven't been countless people in the last 174 years who have applied the word in situations that don't comply with the literal dictionary definition). It isn't like English isn't rife with words that have changed drastically over the centuries.
posted by mmascolino at 8:32 AM on May 6, 2010

Here you go.
posted by lukemeister at 8:38 AM on May 6, 2010

From yesterday: President Obama’s Use of “Teabagger” Term Sparks Media Debate.

Mentioned in the article:
"The origin of the term is relevant in determining the relative size of the Tea Party’s violin. What wasn’t pointed out to [ABC's Jake] Tapper is the fact that the Tea Partiers not only invented the term, they did so in order to inflict a similar double entendre onto the President, the Democrats, and liberals in general. Hence, it’s a violin so small, you need an electron microscope with a zoom lens to see it.

Now, they’re trying to re-cast the term as a slur, on a par with the 'n-word,' hurtful to all the Tea Party members who are just ordinary moms, dads, sons, and daughters. The latter point has some resonance, but the former is ridiculous in the extreme.

In emails, protest signs, t-shirts, and online, early Tea Party literature urged protesters to 'Tea Bag the White House,' and to 'Tea-bag the liberal Dems before they tea-bag you.' The suggestion is that the metaphoric 'tea-bags' be shoved in the mouths of the President, Democratic members of Congress, and even ordinary citizens who identify as liberal Democrats. The idea that they just didn’t know the term’s only (at that time) meaning is belied by the fact that they obviously knew it was negative (and non-consensual), since they didn’t want it done to them, and also because it only had one meaning.

It was only after MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and David Shuster, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, turned the tables on the term that Tea Partiers objected. They were perfectly satisfied to advocate the metaphoric mouth-rape of liberal men, women, and children, but had the nerve to become indignant when the insult boomeranged on them.

Along with the fact that it was born out of Rick Santelli’s homeowner-scapegoating rant on the floor of the stock exchange, this was one of the reasons I originally found the movement so offensive, and why I beat Maddow and Shuster to the punch in using the term against them. Just as today’s Tea Partiers include ordinary Americans who didn’t ask for this treatment, the original targets of the term included liberal fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters, including most of my own family."
posted by ericb at 8:49 AM on May 6, 2010 [7 favorites]

The teabaggers themselves originated the term, and it applies perfectly to their ideology, so they're stuck with it, regardless of how much indignant faux remorse they now purport to have about it.

I'm appalled that there's even a question about the origin, frankly. If we can't remember facts from 6 months ago, the terrorists win.
posted by Aquaman at 9:13 AM on May 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've seen an image macro floating around that says something along the lines of "If we're the teabaggers, does that make you the teabaggee?" I don't know where it originated.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:29 AM on May 6, 2010

Here you go.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:35 AM on May 6, 2010

I have no intent of using the word. I am responding to people who are complaining about others using "teabagger" to describe the Tea Party. It is silly for anyone to holler about being offended by a name they called themselves. If I camplain about someone calling me a geek, when I call myself a geek -- well that is silly and I should be called out on it.

That is the reason I am looking for a history. If the term came from outside the Tea Party, then they have a rmore easonable complaint. However, If it came from within the party and blew up in their faces --then they are jsut whining.

Thanks for the responses. I am very much needing conservative leaning sources -- Wash Post is considered by these folks to have a liberal bias. We won't even go into sources I percieve as being liberal :)
:::stepping away to listen some more::::
posted by Librarygeek at 4:14 PM on May 6, 2010

Is Andrew Breitbart conservative enough for them?
posted by SisterHavana at 5:00 PM on May 6, 2010

Then, Rachel Maddow and Ana Marie Cox went on a roll enjoying themselves with mocking the tea bagging name. That's from early April 2009 and if you dig through Nexus and what not I am sure you will find lots of contemporaneous articles written by people chastising Maddow, Cox et al for misusing the movement's name for the easy joke.

In what way are they misusing the name, mmascolino? They're certainly mocking the Teabaggers for their naive usage of a loaded term, but surely that's fair game in partisan political commentary, unless you also believe that using such perjoratives as "bleeding-heart liberals" and "feminazis" are similarly unacceptable.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:37 PM on May 11, 2010

I'm just stunned there's even any question whatsoever about the term's origin. I vividly remember the very first appearance of the teabaggers. I did a classic double-take and said, "they're calling themselves WHAT?" very loudly to my cat, who was not amused.

I reiterate: that there's even a question about the origin of the term means the Ministry of Truth is doing a very, very good job. Stay alert, people. Don't make me pull this thing over.
posted by Aquaman at 4:33 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

It is interesting that there is some evidence to shows that some faction of the protesters knowingly was using the double entendre prior to Ana Marie Cox's appearance on the Maddow show. However, as I mentioned above it isn't like the Tea Party movement is monolithic or uniformly controlled (especially not way back then). So I was saying that they went for the easy joke in the vein of "Ha ha, this naive people named their movement unwittingly named their movement after a sex act." I'd be all on board with the snicker as well if the movement as a whole had named themselves "Teabagger". This is analogous of when some co-workers and I mocked a software utility creation department manager's decision to print up large banners that said "Tool Town" and put them on their cubical walls.

Feminazi and bleeding heart are different in the sense that no one is claiming someone knowingly or unknowingly uses that term to refer to them self. Well I suppose bleeding heart is tricky in the sense that the dictionary definition is defined as a pejorative but I am sure there are people who willing accept that term to define them self.
posted by mmascolino at 7:51 PM on May 12, 2010

I too remember doing a double take, but again -- our memories don't mean anything when discussing issues and making claims. We have to have evidence. I mean, I demand the same when someone tells me something that sounds foolish.

Thanks everyone. It looks lke the whole name meme started with protestors sending teabags to the white house, would you say that is correct? Ceratainly, someone took a misstep if they didn't realize what participants would be named as a shortcut. I mean, "tea pary member"? That leads me to more questions about group nick names, but they will have to waif for another Ask Me question or who knows...a MeFI post with the broader topic?

Thanks for the resources everyone, some of them are new to me :) I try not to stay in the echo chamber, but time is short and I try to stay away from tabloids.
posted by Librarygeek at 7:09 AM on May 13, 2010

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