I’ve looked down
barrels of guns.
Rep. Bart Stupack (D-MI), when asked if death threats concerned him, in Politico.
metonymy (meh-TON-y-my), the scale-changing figure. From the Greek, meaning “name change.”
Jeez, calm down, people. It’s a health care bill, for crying out loud. A deflated, tweaked, compromised, new abortion-free formula health care bill, not the apocalypse. Yet the increasingly misnamed Tea Partiers have been calling in death threats and calling for revolution.
Bart Stupack, the anti-abortion holdout who switched sides at the last minute, shrugs rhetorically with a commonplace metonymy. The trope takes an aspect of something and makes it stand for the whole thing. (See other examples here and here and here.) Stupack, an ex-cop, could simply have said, “I’ve had bad guys point guns at me.” Instead, he makes a gun appear before our very eyes. The Greeks called this kind of immediacy enargeia. It’s the special effects of rhetoric.
If only it could make those Tea Totalitarians disappear.