Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) - The Movie Crash Course

It’s very easy to unintentionally overdose on the news. Like the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, it seems innocuous, but it c an be deadly. Too often, my best efforts to steer clear are thwarted because the news is ubiquitous although most of what it contains is either sensational or useless. For example, most cable news sources include endless celebrity coverage interspersed with the latest buffoonery from our elected officials.

Likewise, Real Buffoons of Washington, DC, a reality television show, drives me up the wall. Politicians redefine their “facts” as often as I change socks–and yes I change them daily. Yesterday’s up is down today. Although someone may have a video of one of them saying the sky is blue, they swear they’ve always described it as pink.

Filibuster is a word that gets bandied about freely. I know that it is a mechanism for the minority in the Senate to block the majority from successfully advancing a cause. In my opinion (for what that’s worth) I can’t see the filibuster as consistent with the goals of a democratic republic.

On the other hand, filibuster is a strange word and I wondered where the word came from. Was it like gerrymander, a term that grew out of and is strictly relevant to politics? It turns out that filibuster is every bit as interesting as you might expect. Merriam-Webster offers the following:

Definition of filibuster

1 : an irregular military adventurer specifically : an American engaged in fomenting insurrections in Latin America in the mid-19th century

2 : [filibuster entry 2] a : the use of extreme dilatory (see dilatory sense 1) tactics (as by making long speeches) in an attempt to delay or prevent action especially in a legislative assembly
b : an instance of this practice The filibuster delayed the voting on the bill for over a week.

History and Etymology for filibuster

Noun and Verb

Spanish filibustero, literally, freebooter

I admit, I had no idea as to what a freebooter was, so as long as I was in the dictionary, I decided to look it up, too.

Definition of freebooter

: pirate, plunderer

Filibuster refers to an insurrectionist or a pirate? Really! How interesting.

Just to clarify, we’re not talking a Disney pirate like Jack Sparrow. We’re talking ruthless people who would hunt down a ship and take its valuables, possibly including the ship itself. People like Captain Kidd, Calico Jack, and Blackbeard, not to mention those who attack ships, such as the Maersk Alabama, in modern times.

Filibuster provides an interesting etymology, if not an accidental truth.

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