"The Usual Suspects" of Great Debates

(Mods – I can think of good reasons for this to be in pretty much every possible forum. Feel free to move it anywhere you think appropriate.)

While I don’t post very much, I’ve been lurking and reading and learning for many years.

One odd thing I’ve noticed is, over time the use of the term “Usual Suspects” (often thusly capitalized) in the Great Debates forum has changed from one end of the political spectrum to the other.

Back in 2002, “Usual Suspects” was a term used by left-leaning posters to describe people they felt were extreme right-wing partisans. December, Brutus, Shodan, milroyj and Sam Stone, among others, were often referred to as the “Usual Suspects,” in a predictably pejorative fashion.

Sometime between then and now, this has become reversed. The term is now used more often by right-leaners (e.g. Shodan, magellan01, smiling bandit and ArizonaTeach) to describe left-wing partisans.

Was this co-opting of the term intentional, on the part of the right-leaners? Or just a natural evolution of usage? Or am I the only one who even noticed? Is the shift indicative of anything? I’m curious what others here think – assuming, of course, that anyone cares, which is not at all a given. :slight_smile:


I’m pretty sure both sets of posters are using it, and in the same way.

I’m sure The Usual Suspects will come in shortly and say that it’s the other side that uses the term The Usual Suspects.

The greatest trick Cecil Adams ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

He does? Hmm…I’ll ask the Easter Bunny and see what he thinks…


sigh And this will be another list I won’t make, like Most Wonderful Poster and Most Sexually Desirable. Not that I qualify for any of them. :frowning:

Wait, is it Shodan? ‘Cause if so I’m leavin’.


No, you’re thinking of Verbal Cu…errr, nevermind :slight_smile:

If you’re a conservative you are a “usual suspect.”. If you are a liberal you are an “Ilk.”

I would not want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member. :wink:

Sadly to be a Usual Suspect I suspect you need to be extremely extreme. An attempt at balanced (or at least semi-balanced) posting gets you nowhere. Be strident in your views, out of the main stream and ignore all attempts at logic that run counter to whatever it is you are on about and you’re in.

So, being able to see both sides and willing to compromise keeps me out of another clique? Damn my stars!

If only I could blame being a Gemini for not making the most fuckable list.

You’re forgetting the wonders of internet anonymity.

Just link to a pic of Brad Pitt next time a most fuckable list comes up. I’m sure no one here will notice. Then rationalize to yourself that you really won the contest in the comfort of your own home. :wink:

The original context was not especially pejorative, merely a way of shorthanding a predictable posse of pussilanimous pussyfooters. As is so often the case with the humor impaired, they crave to dress themselves as wits, but are forced to scrounge for humor they can appropriate. But like magpies, they cannot evaluate, they cannot tell a diamond ring from a discarded gum wrapper, they loft it into the air as a gossamer witticism, it slams to the floor like a bowling ball.

The record would show (if such were possible) that the most original use of the phrase was entered by a poster so widely beloved as to need no further embellishments, and one far too modest to draw attention to himself.

The tighty rightys would do well to remember: talent borrows, genius steals.

Your floors must be in pretty sad shape.

Maybe if the gum wrapper wasn’t so tightly balled up it would flutter gently to the ground.

Or ingeniously and cunningly folded, like origummi.

Thus we demonstrate that it was especially pejorative, and in the same sentence, to boot.

The rest can be ignored, as you’ve demonstrated your adeptness at talking out of both sides of your mouth from the get-go. The rest is extraneous.

To answer the OP, it was co-opted for obvious reasons. By applying the appellation to the originator it informs them that they are no better than those whom they are referring to in such a derogatory manner. It’s also quite applicable, because it is always the same people on both sides of the issue that bark at each other.

I tried to join the Ilk’s Club once, but I couldn’t afford the dues.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. I was only trying to figure out who shot Strasser.

I think you are mis-remembering. My own recollection is that both sides used this term fairly often. I did a quick search on the board and one of the earliest instances that came up for ‘usual suspects’ was from Shodan in 2003 in a GD thread. I’m sure there were earlier instances (it was 15 pages of threads that got hits :))…but I think this was a term that was traded back and forth from the beginning. As with other such catchy phrases folks pick up on it and then use it because, well, it’s catchy. I doubt the term originated here on the Straight Dope after all.