Online Insult Generators Let You 'Go Negative' With Civility
Internet users who want to add to the political discourse this campaign season by slinging mud while being civil have plenty of options with their computers, smartphones, and other gadgets.
Peppering the insult landscape with jibes from William Shakespeare is the ticket, and the GOP candidates, themselves, could learn a thing or two from the "Bard of Avon."
For candidates who like to gamble -- Mitt Romney, for instance -- they may turn to Shakespeare insult generators. They randomly display revilements from Stratford's famous son collected and stored in a database or generated from words in those insults.
Chris Seidel has created such a generator. It has a nice clean Google search-type interface. Jibes are generated by clicking an "insult me again" button.
Think how much a candidate could raise the level of a debate, yet maintain his negative zest by looking his opponent -- say a Newt Gringrich -- in the eye and declaring, "Thy sin's not accidental, but a trade." (Measure for Measure) Or if Rick Santorum turned on the GOP field and spat, "There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune." (Henry V).
Seidel's generator mixes both insults quoted directly from Shakespeare's plays with barbs composed of randomly chosen words. The word cooker at William-shakespeare.org follows only the random route.
Results such as "Thou unwholesome sheep-biting worms-meat!," "Thou abominable half-faced codpiece!" and " Thou obscene beef-witted hag-seed!" lack the poetry of the Bard, but can still be effective.
If a candidate wants to avoid leaving his insults to chance, he can go to the Shakespeare Insult Kit. The kit consists of three columns of words. By taking a word from each column and putting "thou" in front of them, ersatz slams can be brewed. "Thou puking knotty-pated measle," for example, or "Thou mewling fen-sucked canker-blossom."
Candidates, or their handlers, who have a favorite play by the Bard may want to milk it for prickers for their opponents. That's easily done at Insult.net, which has sorted Shakespeare's insults by play title.
Finally, candidates who prefer to defer to authority in the matter of Shakespeare dress-downs may want to restrict their digs of opponents to one found on any of several "top" lists on the Internet, like "20 Epic Shakespeare Insults Every Drama Geek Should Know."