by Paul Niquette
Copyright ©1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

horseshit n. 

  1. Vulgar.  Excrement of a horse. 
  2. Vulgar Slang. Insincere talk; nonsense; misleading information; lie. 

"What have you been working on lately?" my brother Alan inquired idly.

"Horseshit," I replied.


"Still in the h's, I take it," observed David, my other brother.

At the time of the conversation, David lived nearby and knew of my introspective project.  Alan was visiting from Oregon.  Both brothers are ministers.  When we get together, I try to curtail my use of the vernacular.  Not successfully.
"Decided to take out the 'bullshit' entry," said I.

David kept a straight face.  "I'm not surprised."

Alan followed the conversation wide-eyed.

"Like I often say, David: Differences are more important than similarities."

"Quite so," David mused.  He turned to Alan.  "Don't you agree?"

"Sure, but -- "

"For example," I interrupted.  "'Bullshit' can be a verb sometimes.  'Horseshit' is always a noun, and there is no such thing as a horseshitter."

David squeezed the smirk off his face. "Never thought of that before."

Alan takes a ribbing with a puzzled frown.

"Not only that," I continued, "but there's no such thing as a 'horseshit artist.'"

"You might consider telling me what you guys are talking about," Alan complained.

"Weren't you planning to do some kind of a study?" asked David, ignoring Alan.

"Funny you should mention that," I replied.  "You know, all around us there are statistics: public opinion polls, demographic surveys, market research -- "

David nodded.  "We have them, too.  Care to guess what factor is used by the most people in choosing a church?"

I thought for a moment.  "The preacher -- no, the music."

Alan signaled a time-out.  "What do statistics have to do with -- "

"It's parking, Paul," said David. "The quality of sermons ranks below the child-care facilities."

"Parking," I chuckled.  "Must be discouraging for you men of the cloth.  Anyway, you're making my point.  See, not everybody chose parking, did they.  Well, in my own statistical study, I have observed 100% agreement."

"No 'undecideds,' even?" asked David, raising his eyebrows.

Alan reached his point of exasperation.  "What study!"

"So far, every person I have asked gives the same answer: 'horseshit' is definitely the stronger, more offensive term.  It means a lie; 'bullshit' is merely a form of foolishness.  At most, 'bullshit' implies exaggeration."

David fought with his face.  "Any theory?"

Alan brightened and plunged into the conversation.  "Cows are ruminants."

David and I looked quizzical.  It was our turn to be dumfounded.

"Ruminants," said Alan with a shrug, "can digest cellulose. So their excrement is less offensive -- "

"That's disgusting, Alan!" I exclaimed in mock shock. "David and I are having an intellectual discussion about horseshit, here.  It's filthy to talk about bovine excrement."

"Equine excrement, you mean," Alan corrected.  "Horseshit is equine excrement."


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