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How Do You “Turn a Blind Eye?”

As I’ve previously mentioned, I officiate high school sports. Last weekend, at a high school volleyball tournament, a young-looking coach walked up to me and asked that if she suddenly got into a uniform and wanted to play, would I turn a blind eye?

I responded, “You’re young, but you’re not that young. But to answer your question: No.”

Then I asked, “How does someone turn a blind eye anyway?” Humans’ eyes can’t turn. They can move back and forth, up and down and cross-eyed. But they can’t be turned.

Maybe a glass eye could be turned, but first it has to come out and put in someone’s hands so it could be turned.

I know it’s an idiom, so I looked it up. Its origins lie with Horatio Nelson (1758-1805). During the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, British Admiral  Sir Hyde Parker sent a flag signal to his second-in-command, Vice-Admiral Nelson, that he could withdraw at his discretion. Nelson had been blinded in one eye early in his Royal Navy career, and he was far more aggressive than Parker anyway.

The story goes that Nelson put his telescope up to his blinded eye, claimed he could not see Parker’s signal and continued to attack the Danish-Norwegian fleet. It led to a resounding British victory.

I’ve seen versions of the story that say Nelson disobeyed Parker’s order to withdraw, but I’m inclined to believe that Parker gave Nelson the choice.

I’m guessing that had someone asked Nelson how to turn his blind eye, he probably would have said, “I can’t see how.”

Until next time! Use the right words!



September 10, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,

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