An Inclusive Litany


At a city council meeting in Sacramento, California, council member Lauren Hammond castigated Robert Pacuinas, a Sacramento lawyer, for emphasizing a point by saying "I think we should call a spade a spade." Hammond responded: "You made an ethnically and racially derogatory remark and I hope you think about what you said. It is not appreciated. It is no longer a part of modern English. The phrase just isn't used in good company anymore." But in fact, the phrase is at least 500 years old, and refers to a digging implement. The Greek biographer Plutarch used a similar expression.

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