At a town hall in Allentown, Pa.—coverage of which probably made Billy Joel a couple grand in licensing fees today—Barack Obama said consumers are getting "gypped" by insurance companies. Cue the outrage.
Addressing healthcare, Obama said, "All we're trying to do is make sure that if you're buying health insurance on the private marketplace that you're not getting gouged, and gypped, by the insurance companies."
"Gypped," unfortunately, is something of an ethnic slur. At least some members of the Roma community—formerly known as gypsies—regard it as such. The word is said to have been derived from "to gypsy," and means to rip off, implying that all gypsies are thieves—it's sort of analagous to saying, "that 7-11 clerk Jewed me out of me change." When a British judge used it in open court in June, the British Roma community protested and the Oxford English Dictionary, which simply defines "gyp" as an "act of cheating," said it would likely look into the matter next year. The dictionary's chief etymolygist told the Daily Telegraph that there was a "scholarly consensus" that it was probably a "racial slur." Someone has made sure that it appears in Wikipedia's list of ethnic insults.
If a British judge caused a stir by using it a few months ago, we'd imagine that an American president employing it will cause a minor uproar. Oh look! Right-wingers are already standing up for the interests of the Roma people. You can now add gypsies to the list of people Obama hates, along with the mentally and physically challenged and white people.