Foreign Object, Indeed

When a woman claimed to find a finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili, the company went into full-on crisis mode, hiring investigators, examining staff and suppliers, and offering a $100,000 reward.

Now it seems that the woman who reported the find has a history of trying to extort money. Following her arrest, Wendy’s was quite eager to, ahem, point the finger — but preferably without using the word “finger” at all. From their press release titled simply “Update on San Jose“:

In response to the announcement today by the San Jose Police Department that the criminal charges have been filed in the case involving a foreign object in a bowl of chili on March 22, 2005…

“Foreign object” sounds almost clinical, doesn’t it? It’s always interesting to see how language can be used to shape perceptions of a thing. Sometimes it’s dramatic, as when the Repubs use the phrase “death tax”, or the Dems mention the “nuclear option.” Other times, as here, it’s an effort to drain emotion, to neuter, as when I read that the Pentagon has edged away from the use of “body bags” in favor of the far more innocuous “transfer tubes.”

I hear George Carlin covers euphemisms like these in his latest book, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? I wonder if it’s any good…

Hit Me With It


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