Luis Suárez’s Clinton-esque Biting “Apology” Is a Nonstop Semantic Thrill Ride

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June 30 2014 2:31 PM

Luis Suárez’s Clinton-esque Biting “Apology” Is a Nonstop Semantic Thrill Ride

Luis Suárez
Have you or your loved ones been bitten by Luis Suárez? Sorry, have you or your loved ones suffered the physical result of a bite when in the proximity of Luis Suárez?

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

On June 25, Uruguay striker/World Cup Jerk Watch honoree Luis Suárez told FIFA that he did not bite Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini. “I hit my face against the player leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth and that’s why the referee stopped the match. That is what happened and in no way was there any case of biting or intending to bite.” Now, after many dark nights of the soul/mouth (and a 22-match suspension), Suárez has finally owned up to … something.

Suárez, you see, will not go so far as saying that he bit Chiellini. Rather, Chiellini “suffered the physical result of a bite.”

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During the Monica Lewinsky contretemps, Bill Clinton said famously that the status of his relationship with the White House intern “depends upon what the meaning of the word is is.” As Slate’s Timothy Noah noted in 1998, with this turn of phrase, Slick Willie became Existential Willie.

And so it is with Luis Suárez. How could someone suffer the physical result of a bite without being bitten? Hey man, Existential Luis is just asking the big questions. He doesn’t have all the answers.

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

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