Archive for December 9th, 2013

December 9, 2013

Heckler

A heckler is a person who harasses and tries to disconcert others with questions, challenges, or gibes. They are often known to shout disparaging comments at a performance or event, or to interrupt set-piece speeches, with the intent of disturbing performers and/or participants.The term originates from the textile trade, where to heckle was to tease or comb out flax or hemp fibers.

The additional meaning, to interrupt speakers with awkward or embarrassing questions, was added in Scotland, and specifically perhaps in early nineteenth century Dundee, a famously radical town where the hecklers who combed the flax had established a reputation as the most radical and belligerent element in the workforce. In the heckling factory, one heckler would read out the day’s news while the others worked, to the accompaniment of interruptions and furious debate.

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