20 Jul 2008

New-age media workers

Lisa Agostini-Allen has a very nice write on the discrepancies of drug sentencing between the haves and have-nots. Justice in Trinidad has a way of having huge gaps from the pocket-book area; the fatter the pocket-book, the better justice you can buy. Read the article.

But in writing her article, once again Lisa has made another ignorant mistake:

In her discharge of her—that is, letting her go scotch free, without so much as a spot on her record—

There isn't any such thing. The term is 'scot free'.

A scot is a Scandinavian word for tax or payment. It came to the UK as a form of redistributive taxation which was levied as early the 13th century as a form of municipal poor relief. The term is a contraction of 'scot and lot'. Scot was the tax and lot, or allotment, was the share given to the poor.

Scot as a term for tax has been used since then to mean many different types of tax. Whatever the tax, the phrase 'scot free' just refers to not paying one's taxes.

For those of you readers who want to debate the origin of the phrase, this is not the forum; I have merely posted one likely explanation. The point is that there is no phrase or term as 'scotch-free', and it ought not be used.