Cindi’s got another column on tomorrow’s page that involves the S.C. legislative practice of "bobtailing." As usual, she uses the term as though it makes perfect sense, although it doesn’t.
Cindi defends the word as one that has meaning within the context of the State House, and she has enough of a point that I leave the term in when she uses it (Hey — you try to argue her out of it). Cindi uses the term because, as she put it, That’s what they call it, so that’s what it is. I’m grateful that in one recent column, she at least put the term, as used by S.C. lawmakers, in quotation marks.
Yes, if we’re going to describe what these folks do we need to use the lingo, but this is just an example of our lawmakers abusing language. They use the term to refer to ADDING something, or somethings, to a bill — something that doesn’t belong there. In the English language, the term "bobtail" indicates that something has been TAKEN AWAY — or mostly taken away.
To "bob" a tail is to cut most of it off. It applies to things other than hair, of course (I refer you to Fitzgerald’s "Bernice Bobs Her Hair.") A Bobtail Cat is so called because he has a mere stump of a tail.
Far more accurately descriptive is the "Christmas Tree" metaphor, of hanging amendments on a bill in the manner of ornaments. Unfortunately, in South Carolina, "bobtailing" is what they call it. I just thought I’d point out that they are WRONG to call it that.