"As Advertisers Pull Out Amid Backlash, CBS Director Hopes Host Will Be Fired"
"Imus Backlash Comes to CT"
-Connecticut Local Politics
"Backlash grows over shock jock Imus' rant"
-San Francisco Chronicle
"Imus comments and backlash"
"Imus tried to stem the backlash from his comments by appearing on the Rev. Al Sharpton's syndicated radio show"
backlash n. E19. 1 An irregular recoil or excessive play in a piece of mechanism. E19. 2 transf. & fig. An excessive or violent reaction; reactionary attitudes or opinion. E20.
-New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
I bring this up because I started out this AM to write a piece on the actual Imus backlash--that is, the "What about rappers?" "What about Rosie O'Donnell?" "Whatever happened to Free Speech?" crapola--and this is the sort of thing I found on the first five pages of my Google search.
Y'know, I'm perfectly amenable to catachresis as a force for language chance. I think it's nice (formerly "stupid", "wanton" or "slatternly"). I enthuse (formerly "display excessive religious emotionalism"; later "act irrationally or quixotically") over it, even when garbled (which, until the early 19th century meant "to sift or sort out, to cleanse"). I just don't understand why headline writers and other professional wordsmiths should be leading the way, especially when a word is supremely useful the way "backlash" is (and don't get me started on "spin"). The negative reaction to Imus' comments was, in any way we can describe it in this internets age, reasonable, rational, to the point. "What about Jessie Jackson saying 'Hymietown' twenty-five years ago"? or death threats to the Rutgers basketball team, those things are examples of backlash.
And regarding the latter, thank you, Mrs. Imus, for publicly asking that those things stop. And welcome to the real world.