Enough with the gates already

Back in early 1974, very few people worldwide, apart from American political insiders, knew or cared anything about the Watergate office complex in the Foggy Bottom neighbourhood of Washington, D.C, in the United States of America.

Since the events that forced the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon, it is understandable that the word Watergate has become synonymous with political scandal in the United States.

But 35 years later, why in the world do the pundits think that it is clever to append the suffix “gate” to every scandal, real or perceived, happening anywhere in the U.S.A. or worldwide?

A recent example was the tempest in a teapot over whether Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Protestant, consumed or pocketed the communion host at a Roman Catholic funeral.  The scandal quickly was dubbed Wafergate.

More recently, hackers have released some email messages they stole from climate change researchers at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.  Yup, predictably this is Climategate.

I would like to go on record as being one person who thinks that the novelty wore off several decades ago, that this practice isn’t original and in fact is downright annoying.  I appeal to reporters, headline writers, columnists and bloggers worldwide to please give us a break.

4 Responses to “Enough with the gates already”

  1. Marc says:

    Plus, while we all know what is meant by it, it technically does not make sense. “Gate” was never a suffix in the original scandal–it was part of the name of the hotel. Somewhere along the line “gate” became a suffix, but the word is meaningless as a suffix, except insofar as it refers back to Watergate. (That made more sense in my head a moment ago!)

    I will admit that I find “Wafergate” at the very least funny, simply because it’s only one letter away from Watergate. If it had been the first use of the “gate” as a suffix, perhaps we would have enjoyed it more.

  2. Phil L says:

    True enough, Wafergate is close to Watergate, but just limiting ourselves to Canadian politics, it came after Shawinigate and Sponsorgate, which came after a lot of other “gates”, so I maintain that it wasn’t original.

  3. roger loseth says:

    I agree wholeheartedly too bad there are’nt any more real ideas out there…

  4. Clinton says:

    I think we’re witnessing the creation of a new suffix in the English language.
    In years to come I can picture educators teaching the origin of the “-gate” from pronoun to a suffix meaning “scandal of”. There are entire generations who know nothing of Watergate but completely understand the meaning of Climategate and Sponsorgate. I think -gate is here to stay. Not that journalists aren’t original any more, its just the newly accepted suffix.