Friday, April 04, 2003


In response to this story, Tacitus asks:

Since when did "cowboy" become a derisive term in the European lexicon? Did they all grow up with movies in which cowboys were loathesome, capricious killers? In the films I remember, the cowboy heroes were upstanding, silent, strong, and moral.

...and ultimately solved every problem with force. Even if the problem was as trivial as someone insulting him, cheating at cards, or just looking at him funny. Is it any wonder non-Americans (who aren't so keen on "frontier values") view cowboys as trigger-happy killers?

Though there's also some aspect of the second use of the word. Down here, a "cowboy" is a fly-by-night operator, someone who does a shitty job then rides (or flies) off into the sunset, never to be seen again. I suspect this usage is common in England as well.