Put up or shut up?
Please explain this sentence: “Finally, his friends told him to put up or shut up.” Put up or shut up?
Put up his fists and fight, or shut his mouth up and be quiet.
Essentially that’s what his friends told him to do – to shut up and stop whinging, basically.
Usually this kind of advice comes after a dispute or grievance after some time. In our example, the person in question may, or rather must have been complaining about something for a long time. For such a long time, in that, that his friends got fed up with it, and they told him to quit whining and talk no more on the matter.
In fact, what they told him is, like I said, put up a fight, i.e. take action and do something about it and if that isn’t happening, then he should just shut up his mouth and never talk about the matter again.
“Put up or shut up” comes to be an idiom on the strength of the fact that those words rhyme. The expression is said to have come from the game of boxing. Imagine one boxer taunting another, saying how he will knock the other out in the first round and things like that. The other boxer keeps talking, too, about how much better he is than the other but never says whether he accepts the other’s invitation for a fight, toe to toe.
This goes on for some time. The taunts from the first boxer become bigger, bolder, nastier in rhetoric and therefore more hurtful. He called the other names, such as coward, a bum, a monkey and other names sounding worse.
The other boxer, on the other hand, begins to complain, saying how it is wrong and unsportsmanlike for someone to call another person those names and so forth.
He keeps whining. Eventually everyone gets tired of hearing any more of it and they say to him: Put up or shut up – accept his challenge and settle it in the ring or quit whining about getting hurt by those taunts.
In other words, prove your worth with action or swallow the hurt and never complain.
All right, here are media examples of people who should or are asked to “put up or shut up”:
1. FBI Director James Comey is on quite a media blitz. In the month since the iPhone 6 launch, he's appeared on television and radio over and over again, talking up the supposed dangers of Apple’s new encryption standards. After a televised press conference in September, he’s appeared in countless articles criticizing Apple’s new measures, which would automatically encrypt data held on the iPhone, and prevent Apple from decrypting it for law enforcement. Last night, Comey showed up on 60 Minutes to do it again. It’s enough for the AFP to dub it Crypto Wars 2.0, a rehash of the struggle for legal cryptography that played out in the ’90s.
One important thing to notice: Comey never does more than talk. The battles over encryption in the ’90s played out with arrests and court battles. Anyone offering end-to-end encryption, which doesn't let carriers hold the decryption keys, was under real legal threat. In the most alarming example, Phil Zimmermann spent years battling federal arms exporting charges over his PGP encryption suite. The threat of force was real, and resisting it took real sacrifice. Director Comey, on the other hand, hasn’t offered anything more than vague concerns. If he’s serious about the dangers of encryption, there’s plenty Comey could do — whether in court cases or in Congress itself — but without some real proposal, he’s just rehashing decades-old arguments about warrants and software freedom. After three weeks of talk, it’s time for Comey to put up or shut up.
- It’s time for the FBI to put up or shut up on encryption, TheVerge.com, October 13, 2014.
2. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, has lashed out at remarks recently made by the US State Department’s deputy spokesman, who urged Russia to “put up or shut up” over Syria’s truce, calling them rude and offensive.
Mark Toner made the remarks on Friday, stating Washington had received assurances from Moscow that it’s ready to stop bombing the so-called “moderate opposition,” as is called for by the landmark ceasefire deal reached between the two sides earlier this week.
“I don’t know how to put it any better than saying: ‘It’s put up or shut up time,’” Toner told reporters, adding it was time for Russia to demonstrate through actions, rather than words, that it is committed to the ceasefire plan for Syria.
“Mark had better order his own colleagues to shut up, if such an idiomatic style of communication is common among American diplomats,” Zakharova responded in a Facebook post on Saturday.
“Today, the Russian Defense Ministry held a briefing regarding the beginning of the truce actions in Syria. It’s been explained clearly and plainly, even for you [Mark], who even failed to answer the question about the acquisition by the US of maps establishing the armistice zone, which were prepared by Russia,” Zakharova added, referring to the spokesman’s failure to comment on maps Russia has provided Washington detailing the combat situation in Syria.
“So, Mark, until Russia ‘does not shut up,’ you have a chance to find out what is really going on in Syria,” Zakharova summed up.
- Toner should tone it down: Russian FM spokeswoman decries ‘harsh’ US rhetoric on Syria truce, RT.com, February 27, 2016.
3. Downing Street has issued further clarification about the Prime Minister’s financial affairs, confirming that neither he, his wife or his children stand to benefit from offshore funds or trusts in the future.
The denial is the latest of a series of statements issued by No10 in the wake of the Panama Papers revelation that David Cameron’s father ran an offshore investment fund which never paid UK tax.
Yesterday, officials only went as far to say the Prime Minister and his immediate family did not currently benefit from any offshore funds, leading to speculation that he still stood to inherit or realise funds in the future.
In a sign of growing frustration in Downing Street, after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggested yesterday that Mr Cameron’s family’s own tax affairs should be part of an independent investigation into the Panama leaks, a spokesperson said it was time for those questioning the PM’s financial arrangements to “put up or shut up”.
However, Labour MP and member of the Treasury Select Committee Wes Streeting said that, despite the latest clarification, Mr Cameron still had to confirm whether he had benefitted in the past from offshore funds.
“Yesterday the PM himself made a rod for his own back by issuing a partial statement,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “On the basis of the statements that were put out yesterday the key question is, has he benefitted in the past from this?”
“This whole issue about tax havens is about openness and transparency and it's really clear the UK, acting independently but also in conjunction with other countries, still has far more to do to tackle aggressive tax avoidance and tax havens,” he added.
“So from a public point of view, the question will be: when our Prime Minister says he is serious about tackling it…are we absolutely certain he doesn’t have a vested interest and if he does, will he be up front about it?”
- Panama Papers: David Cameron clarifies tax position and tells critics to ‘put up or shut up’, Independent.co.uk, April 6, 2016.
About the author:
Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: [email protected], or raise a question for potential use in a future column.