I recently worked on a book in which the author kept quoting people, each of whom she referred to as a "badass." Could be anyone. Martin Luther King Jr.: Badass. Elizabeth I: Badass. Ben Franklin: Badass. John Lennon: Badass. Raoul Wallenberg: Badass. Mother Teresa: Badass. Liberace: Badass. Gandhi: Oh you better believe Badass.
It appears the author's criteria for bestowing badassery titles on people were these:
1) She saw a quote she liked on the Internet attributed to the person;
2) The person was interesting enough to make her want people to think she sat around reading thick books by or about them for inspiration;
3) She desired the reflected glory of having a colossal critical mass of badasshood in her book---if she can decide who is or is not a badass, well, that would make her one too, wouldn't it? Takes one to know one.
I suppose it ought to be obvious that none of the quotes had ever been checked. And as I have often mentioned, my years of fact-checking have taught me that the more frequently a quote appears on the Internet, the less likely it is of being attributed properly, and that likelihood approaches zero just by virtue of its being on the Internet.
You can quote me on that.
I can't even get mad anymore about writers who snag quotes off the Internet without verifying them. It's like getting mad at people who park poorly. You'd just be mad all the livelong day if you let yourself get bothered by it.
What I am bothered by is a grown woman who thinks it's cool to go around bestowing the badass title on people like some addlepated 12-year-old. I'm just imagining the look on Frederick William III's face on being told by the spunky young thing, "You're a real kingolicious badass, Freddy Wills!"
He was, but come on.
Are we ever going to behave like adults anymore, or is this going to be the kind of conversation I can look forward to the rest of my life?
Don't even answer that question.
I don't think that everyone she quotes deserves the title anyway; guys like Andrew Jackson or William Tecumseh Sherman, who would probably be condemned by her as killers and oppressors, are what I would think of as badasses. The fact is, your average badass usually garners wishes that he would walk into an open manhole by those around him. Badassishness may be something to aspire to, but usually because of dire circumstance (like war), or in sadder cases, by moral bankruptcy.
Personally, I'd rather be around some goodasses, or at least some normalasses. Is that so much to ask?