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Trump accuser is lying because she used an expression other people have used before, Trump fans claim

Trump: Hands like an octopus?
Trump: Hands like an octopus?

Most of us like to think of ourselves as originals. But when it comes to communicating with other human beings, we’re not quite as original as we think.

When we talk, and write, we not only use words; we use a wide assortment of stock phrases that we’ve picked up along the way. Some of these phrases are basic building blocks of language, more or less essential to communication; others are, as the expression goes, worn-out clichés. Some of these clichés are so burned into our brains that we almost can’t help using them — though we sometimes apologize for it afterwards (or even before).

Last week, a Manhattan woman named Jessica Leeds told the New York Times of a strange encounter with a much younger Donald Trump on an airplane in the early 80s. Seated besides him in first class, she says, she chatted with him briefly, then — following the MO he laid out in that now infamous conversation with Billy Bush — he started kissing and groping her.

“He was like an octopus,” she told the NYT. “His hands were everywhere.”

Now some Trump fans are saying that the “octopus” line is clear evidence that her claims about Trump are a “hoax.” 

Why? Because people other than Leeds have, over the course of human history, used the phrase “he was like an octopus” to describe (allegedly) gropey men. 

No, really, that’s their argument.

Take it away, Mike Cernovich:

https://twitter.com/Cernovich/status/786417742328926208

So … if someone uses a phrase that was once used in a Velvet Underground song, they are automatically lying?

This is the sort of “logic” that only Trump fans could love. And they do: Cernovich’s tweet was retweeted thousands of times, and picked up by other credibility deficient media outlets on the fringe right, including Political Insider and Gateway Pundit.

Snopes, meanwhile, has classified this argument as “just silly,” which it is.

Indeed, Cernovich’s “logic” here is so completely ridiculous that it’s hard to even figure out what he and his fellow Octopus Hand Truthers think happened.

In their imagined scenario, I guess, Leeds is some kind of sleeper agent for the forces of Big Hillary, tasked with the job of making false groping accusations against Trump. After being triggered, Manchurian Candidate style, by Trump’s denials of groping accusations from other women, Leeds sprang into action and began fabricating her own story of being sexually assaulted by Trump.

But alas, her grope-fabrication skills were a bit rusty. Unable to come up with a convincing scenario, she poured herself a drink and put on the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat album, which she has on the original vinyl. While listening to the exceedingly strange story-song The Gift, about a lovelorn weirdo named Waldo who literally mails himself in a big box to his sort-of-cheating sort-of girlfriend, she hears the phrase “My God, he was like an octopus. Hands all over the place.”

Bingo! Those phrases tie the whole fake sexual assault accusation together.

A slightly more plausible scenario is that people have been using the phrase “hands like an octopus” and variations thereof for decades. That it’s just part of the language, not some weird clue in The Hardy Boys and the Secret of The Phrase That Was Used Before in a Velvet Underground Song CHECKMATE, FEMINISTS.

And there’s certainly evidence for that. A few minutes with Google reveals that there’s an entry for “Octopus Hands” in Urban Dictionary (which was posted six years before the Year of Trump); it’s in romance novels; someone even uses it to describe a cute piece of handmade jewelry for sale on an Etsy store. This dude made a joke about it on Twitter in 2012.

It was certainly a familiar phrase to me when I read it in the New York Times story, though admittedly I’m a Velvet Underground fan.

There’s another piece of evidence that suggests “octopus hands” is simply an expression that people have been using for decades — that it’s even a bit of a cliché. And it comes from the Leeds interview itself.

If you watch the video of Leeds’ interview with the New York Times, you will see that she sort of apologizes for using the phrase even before she uses it, presumably a little embarrassed to be resorting to such a hokey cliche.

“[I]t was a real shock when all of a sudden his hands were all over me,” she told the NYT.

He started encroaching on my space. And I hesitate to use this expression but I’m going to, and that is, he was like an octopus. It was like he had six arms. He was all over the place. 

You can find the relevant portion of the interview about a minute into the NYT video.

The real question for me at this point has nothing to do with octopus hands. It’s a lot more basic.

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Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

Got a surefire way to be believed. Try speaking Navajo. Fascists have an especially hard time deciphering it, and nobody’s gonna accuse you of copying a song

kupo
kupo
4 years ago

There’s a reason he hasn’t heard the phrase before: people tend to use it when describing assault to people they trust. It’s used in intimate conversation, to lighten the mood because you’re protecting the listener from having to bear the full weight of the story you’re telling. No one would have such a discussion with someone with views like his.

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy
4 years ago

Well, I’m convinced! This is just as suspicious as when that film reviewer saw the red pill doco before its public release. Can’t fool me 😛

weirwoodtreehugger: communist bonobo

Maybe there are so many cliches about gropey men because so many women have been groped by men?

I’ll bet Trump has used some of them to describe himself. I could totally see him giggling about how he has Roman hands and Russian fingers.

BGHilton
4 years ago

Wow, this is clutching at straws. Wonder how many arms that takes?

Bina
4 years ago

Yup, octopodal comparisons are probably THE most commonly used by anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a rapid-fire, persistently pesky groping. And head-like-an-unflushed-toilet comparisons are probably THE most commonly used by anyone who’s ever seen an opinion out of the twitstream of Juicebro.

Vucodlak
Vucodlak
4 years ago

Mike Cernovich should not be taken seriously unless he uses his own words, written in his own alphabet, and spoken only in sounds that have never before crossed human lips.

The same goes for every brilliant investigatition who has been parroting this ridiculous theory. Until they does this (and I must admit, I’d kind of like to see it), well, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before, is it?

BoinkBoinkBoinkBoinkBoinkBoink
BoinkBoinkBoinkBoinkBoinkBoink
4 years ago

Yurk. I think you finally manged to actually kill my 20 year old tentacle fetish with that picture.

Deimos Masque
Deimos Masque
4 years ago

Funny enough, if she had just said “his hands were all over me” they could use the same argument except citing so movie or TV show where it was stated.

SIGH

It’s almost if there was some sort of underlying culture that has slinked in to western pop culture, a rape culture if I could be so bold.

Nah, she must be lying and referencing 60s and 70s NYC indie rock, instead.

OoglyBoggles
OoglyBoggles
4 years ago

They’re in lala land. Like this is tinfoil helmet worn by people with utter sincerity levels of mental gymnastics.

tim gueguen
4 years ago

Sounds like the excuses some people have made for why Cosby can’t be a rapist. “Those women, their stories all sound the same.” Well, yeah, I would kind of expect a bunch of women who have been assaulted by the same person to report similar experiences.

Number Sequence
Number Sequence
4 years ago

he was like an octopus. It was like he had six arms

Hey, octopuses have 8 arms, not 6…! You can’t fool me, NYT! Gotcha! *does a bunch of donuts in the man-mobile in the NTY parking lot before driving off a dick shaped cliff and into the testosterocean*

tim gueguen
4 years ago

Tales From Testosteroceans was the 5th album by Maybe, a 23 disc concept album dealing with the cosmic significance of hormones

Tessa
Tessa
4 years ago

Number Sequence:

Hey, octopuses have 8 arms, not 6…! You can’t fool me, NYT! Gotcha! *does a bunch of donuts in the man-mobile in the NTY parking lot before driving off a dick shaped cliff and into the testosterocean*

If he had 8 arms, he wouldn’t be like an octopus, because his legs would make 10 limbs!

Fred_the_dog
Fred_the_dog
4 years ago

I was born in the 1950s and I heard “octopus hands” in junior high. It’s been around awhile.

Lynette
Lynette
4 years ago

I first heard the gropey octopus expression in an I Love Lucy episode, and although I can’t give specifics of where else I’ve heard it, it’s definitely pinned in my mind as a tired old cliché I’ve heard many times.

This silly argument does remind me of something from my own life. When my Nigerian husband went back to Nigeria and applied for a spouse visa to re-join me in Australia, he had an interview with an immigration official, who refused his visa on the grounds he didn’t believe my husband was really in love with me because “his answers were cliché”. WTF? Arsehole

PeeVee the (Noice) Sarcastic
PeeVee the (Noice) Sarcastic
4 years ago

I could totally see him giggling about how he has Roman hands and Russian fingers.

This is the first thing that popped in my head.

Yurk. I think you finally manged to actually kill my 20 year old tentacle fetish with that picture.

I hate when that happens!

gijoel
gijoel
4 years ago

He could be a pervy squid in a suit.

BGHilton
4 years ago

The octopus in Beast From 20000 Fathoms had six limbs.

This is a fact that I am actually using in a discussion about a US Presidential election.

Well, I’ve reached peak 2016. How’s everyone else doing?

EJ (The Orphic Lizard)

Thank you for sharing that, Lynette. That sounds enormously aggravating. I hope you got the visa in the end?

Kat
Kat
4 years ago

Another Woman Accuses Trump of Inappropriate Conduct

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/15/donald-trump-sexual-misconduct-allegations-cathy-heller

Another woman in the employ of the Clinton campaign?

Gotta be.

Kat
Kat
4 years ago

Another Woman Accuses Trump of Inappropriate Conduct

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/15/donald-trump-sexual-misconduct-allegations-cathy-heller

Another
woman in the employ of the Clinton campaign?

Pearl Clutcher
Pearl Clutcher
4 years ago

You’re a kid! You’re a squid!

Tovius
Tovius
4 years ago

Now I’m imagining Trump as Octodad.

Catalpa
Catalpa
4 years ago

Clearly if anyone has ever used the same words in the same general order that someone else has done, that statement is rendered entirely false. Language only has the capability to embue a statement with truth the first time it is made, and then never again. This is a well-known phenomena.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that all combinations of “She’s lying!” or “She was asking for it!” have already been used as well. So all statements implying that the sexual assault accusation are false are, in turn, also false. It’s lies all the way down, you see.

And since the accusation was the first false repeated statement, its falseness is negated by the falseness of the statements claiming it was false, rendering it true retroactively.

Perfect logic. /sarcasm

Yutolia
Yutolia
4 years ago

The song lyric is actually “he was like an octopus, hands all over the place”. Gotcha, Cerno!

In the 50s and 60s, many towns had at least one person that women called “lobster” or “crab claws”, due to being known for grabbing or pinching women’s butts. So, by this logic, because there was a common nickname, these ass-pinchers didn’t exist!!

Actually, I would kind of like to have a magic power of something like that. I’d call gropers and all sorts of other assholes the same thing!! Then, poof!! Gone!!

Kootiepatra
4 years ago

I maxed out my ability to deal with the vast amount of rape apologia surging out of my Facebook feed by people who, up until now, had struck me as being fairly decent folk. I haven’t seen the octopus conspiracy garbage yet, but I kinda feel like it’s a matter of time. It’s extremely discouraging to see what this election is bringing out of people.

I wrote a “please don’t blame victims” post trying to debunk some of this stuff, so we’ll see how THAT goes. :/

Nick G
Nick G
4 years ago

Possibly this has already been noted here, but perhaps even more convincing than Cernovich’s argument is that the Trump campaign themselves are using a statement from Anthony Gilberthorpe to dispute Jessica Leeds’ account. More details at the link, but most notably, Gilberthorpe is the man who claimed to have provided underage boys for sex parties attended by members of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet. Could one possibly find a more reliable and trustworthy witness?

Truthfilter
Truthfilter
4 years ago

Oh hey Graham Clark! I love that guy’s podcast. Glad to see him unraveling the latest insane conspiracy theory.

Wetherby
Wetherby
4 years ago

The octopus in Beast From 20000 Fathoms had six limbs.

Actually, it was It Came From Beneath The Sea – and just to add something other than tedious pedantry, Ray Harryhausen wanted eight limbs, but the budget and schedule just didn’t allow it, so he reluctantly settled for six. The creature duly became known as the Sextopus, a name that’s taken on a whole new resonance in recent days.

As for the “hands like an octopus” expression, it’s so common on my side of the Atlantic that I thought nothing of it.

varalys the dark
4 years ago

Blargh that Octo-Trump looks like it should be sleeping at R’lyeh. *shudder*

Anyway I’ve heard the phrase hands like an octopus before, though thankfully not ones that have ever touched me.

Wetherby
Wetherby
4 years ago

I normally hesitate to link to the Daily Mail, for obvious reasons, but it’s worth reading this – and noting that the date of publication wasn’t during the last fortnight.

rugbyyogi
rugbyyogi
4 years ago

Awww, I carefully constructed a whole ‘they’re the plagiarists and hoaxers’ response before I saw Catalpa beat me to it. 🙂

Moggie
Moggie
4 years ago

Wetherby:

I normally hesitate to link to the Daily Mail, for obvious reasons, but it’s worth reading this – and noting that the date of publication wasn’t during the last fortnight.

Look at the body language in that first photo!

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/01/30/20/30BBC71100000578-0-image-a-1_1454185681795.jpg

FoxKit
FoxKit
4 years ago

comment image

I’m not sorry, I won’t apologize.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
4 years ago

People often revert to cliches when describing horrible experiences, because detachment is a way of coping, because sexual assaults often follow a depressingly similar script, and because not everyone is Toni Morrison. Why are assault victims required to invent fresh, original prose for each outrage?

Robot9000 isn’t supposed to be real life.

Edit – FoxKit, that is hilarious!! Love the fedoras.

Argle Bargle (formerly Carr)
Argle Bargle (formerly Carr)
4 years ago

No matter what she had said the reaction of his fans would be the same – she’s lying.
If she had used some other way to describe Ol’ Orange, they would have probably said something like ”Hmmmm, nobody has ever used those words to describe being assaulted, sounds made up.”.

FrickleFrackle
FrickleFrackle
4 years ago

Can this election please be over soon and can it see Trump be defeated by an absolutely GIGANTIC margin? Every time this Oompa-Loompa speaks it makes me ashamed that we’re both cis white males.

Tara the Antisocial Social Worker
Tara the Antisocial Social Worker
4 years ago

The octopus comparison was also used in the 1985 movie “Better Off Dead.” Which I’m sure proves….something or other.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

The “like going out with a bleeding octopus” comparison was also used in 70s Brit sitcom “Are you being served?”

TheDreadVampy
TheDreadVampy
4 years ago

Re: arm number – I too am going to reluctantly link to the Daily Mail, but only because it’s inconsequential

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

@ foxkit

I love that cover; but what is the origin of the fedora thing? I see it mentioned quite a bit and it crops up in pictures but is it real or a spoof (or a mixture of both)?

Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
Axecalibur: Middle Name Danger
4 years ago

@Alan

The “like going out with a bleeding octopus” comparison was also used in 70s Brit sitcom “Are you being served?”

Considering that Grace Bros has a fondness for handsy, old men, I’m sure Trump would do fine there…

Mea
Mea
4 years ago

@Alan
Semi-history of internet fedoradom
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/fedora-shaming

dreemr
dreemr
4 years ago

Just another voice to assure everyone that yes, “hands like an octopus”, is a hoary old trope that has been around forever. I saw Leeds’ interview and even I smiled when she pre-emptively apologized for it, because yeah, it’s an old saw.

Another “gotcha” used as evidence that Leeds is lying was “those planes didn’t even HAVE moving armrests, LIAR!!”

I spit out my coffee when I read the Hardy Boys joke, and then seeing it illustrated in the comments made me spit it out again! David you were on FIRE with this post, laffs-wise!

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
4 years ago

The fedora seemed to crop up at approximately the same time that Yahtzee got the Zero Punctuation gig on The Escapist. He started to get tetchy about it after a while and started to specify that his hat is a trilby, not a fedora, and at approximately the same time I started to see other dudes being super-particular about what you called their pretentious headwear.

I’m not saying that there is a causal connection here, but I’m not saying there isn’t one either. At the least, I would say that Yahtzee helped to popularize it.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
4 years ago

@ Axe

I believe the quote was indeed used by Miss Brahms in relation to ‘young’ Mr Grace.

@ mea

Cheers, I’ll check that out.

(I used to wear a fedora when I was a kid. It was a Doctor Who thing. My grandma crocheted me the scarf)

ETA: cheers to POM too.

(((Chiomara)))
(((Chiomara)))
4 years ago

Just passing by to say english is not my native language, I dont live in an english speaking place, not a Velvet fan, and am extremely familiar with this expression.

Did you read the article by Cernovich? Neither did I, it’s long and stupid, but I read the beginning and he asks for the audio recording of the interview as a gotcha while the interview was recorded on video…
And then he says the sexually assaulted woman later claimed the NYT journalist made it look like she had an unpleasant experience with Trump, which, she says (according to Cernovich), is not true.
Then, at the same breath, he says she fabricated the story of the groping because something octopus something something velvet underground.

Honey, stick to a story. Either she is outraged the journalist made a claim of non sexual assault sound like a claim of sexual assault or she maliciously fabricated a story of sexual assault. One excludes the other.

I find baffling that so many people find those guys logical and inteligent. In what universe do they live?