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Sometimes A Castration Threat Is Just A Castration Threat

I think the New York Post's Charles Hurt is thinking too deeply on Jesse Jackson's hot mic incident:

Veterinarians and doctors talk about cutting nuts "off." Only a thug or a gangster cuts a man's nuts "out."

And Jackson knows better than most the vicious symbolism of castration and its blood-soaked link to lynchings in the Old South.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein, probably speaking from experience, has the better take:

The problem was the live mic, not his comment. His comment was a private utterance, graphically constructed, but not atypical for conversations between friends. Transposed into the public realm, however, it looks a lot worse, even a bit shocking. Private language doesn't work in public contexts. They're two different tongues. Jackson could have said, "I'm extremely frustrated with Obama's recent comments," and it would have meant the same thing to his buddy, but his son wouldn't have denounced him. Public discourse has a literalism, and an enforced civility, that renders it a rather prim arena when compared to how people talk behind closed doors. That's probably as it should be. But it's something we should keep in mind when a someone accidentally turns off the public filter while standing a little too close to a live mic.

Indeed, to spend just a few more seconds on this already-overhyped story, I just don't think Jackson's comments were that big a deal. Unlike Bob Torricelli, who threatened to cut off Frank Lautenberg's balls to Lautenberg's face, Jackson made his threat--such as it was--to a third party. If he'd actually said this to Obama--and that leaked out--then I think it's a story, because it would reveal something thuggish about Jackson. But just saying it about Obama to someone else? Nothing to see here, please disperse.

--Jason Zengerle