Tar with the same brush - politically incorrect?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Thomas Tompion, Feb 24, 2010.

  1. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    The expression to tar with the same brush has quite old BE origins which have nothing to do with tarring and feathering, or making disagreeable reference to black people.

    I wondered whether members would avoid it, nevertheless, as being dangerously similar to other expressions which many find offensive.

    I did avoid it this morning, for these reasons, and used the relatively insipid 'by the same token' instead. I wondered, for once, if I was being oversensitive.
  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    I try to be semi-sensitive and I don't have a problem with it -- the only time I would avoid it is speaking with someone I think might not understand it.
  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I wouldn't dream of avoiding it, Mr.T.
    I try to avoid worrying about things like that.
  4. pickarooney

    pickarooney Senior Member

    Provence, France
    English (Ireland)
    Token is the black character in South Park (a reference to the inclusion of minority characters for the sake of being PC). Someone, somewhere could possibly be offended by that. :)

    I'd no idea there was any racial connotation to 'tarred with the same brush' but even now I don't think I'd avoid using it as I don't think anyone makes this association any more.
  5. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I don't think there is any racial significance to 'tarred with the same brush', but it's not far from 'a touch of the tar brush', which people do find, understandably, offensive.
  6. djmc Senior Member

    English - United Kingdom
    I always thought that it has a semi nautical reference; tar being used to treat wooden sailing boats. The saying "why spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar" is another old reference to tar.

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