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Alice says Bob is dumb as rocks, then takes it back, claiming it is insulting to rocks to compare them to Bob.
More generally, any insult following the form of "I'd call you an X, but that would be an insult to all Xes." Typically, X will be an inanimate object, or at least nothing you'd normally care about offending. Often used to also insult X, the implication being that X is something worthy of contempt.
A double-hammered variant is for X to be something that is commonly assumed to be contempt-worthy. I'd call you a motherfucker, but it'd be demeaning to those guys who fuck their mothers.
Anime and Manga
- During Yu-Gi-Oh!'s Duelist Kingdom arc (English dub), Yugi faces off against
a gay clownKaiba's evil side, brought back from the Shadow Realm by Pegasus. When the doppelganger reveals its true form, Yugi remarks, "You know, I'm not quite sure what to call you. I was thinking about 'monster'... but I wouldn't want to insult the cards."
- The second Gundam Evolve CG short ends with Kamille Bidan writing an apology for destroying a camera during a field test of the Gundam Mk-II. The Wangst-filled "apology" includes this memorable line:
"Letting a person like Lieutenant Quattro command a mission is like letting a monkey handle a bomb. Saying it, I even feel as if I were insulting a monkey."
- In Encounter 142 of The Keroro Gunsou manga, the author explains that the underground base constantly expands with no plans or organization, and says that while he could say it looks like an ants nest, that he feels it's an insult to the ants.
- When Konata compares her using homework as an excuse to go see Kagami to that of an animal following her around, Kagami tells her to apologize to the animal world. Konata asks if she's lower than a dog.
- In an alternate Cowboy Bebop tale, 'Shooting Star', rich people are compared to pigs (in their eating manners). Another member says they're insulting pigs, even including a line defending pigs manners. Another of the characters even states that she used to be like that
- Played For Drama in Naruto: Obito/Kakashi's motto is "In the ninja world, those who break the rules are trash, that's true, but those who abandon their comrades are worse than trash."
- Shizuo from Durarara does not like it when people positively compare him to Kasuka - As far as he's concerned it's much too insulting to his little brother to be put on the same level as him.
- A Donald Duck comic set in Donald's childhood has him wanting to call a classmate a rat, but he doesn't since that would be insulting to all the rats of the world. Given the Furry Confusion, the insult may or may not be worse than it is in our world.
- In the Superman vs. Predator crossover comic, the Mad Scientist is trying to cleanse the world of genetic defects by killing everyone with them, via atmospheric poisoning. Lois Lane claims she would spit if her mouth wasn't so dry, but retracts the statement, saying "... spit's too good for you."
- "Le Chat", a belgian comic book written by Philippe Geluck:
"We often say "Man is a wolf to man". But saying this is bad for the wolves. Instead, we should say "Man is a man to man". But it would be bad for men."
- Enemy Ace War in Heaven:
- In The Beano strip Crazy for Daisy, Daisy compares Ernest, the guy who just won't leave her alone, to a warthog. After this, she's incredibly shocked at herself for being so insensitive and immediately apologises...to any warthogs who happen to be reading.
- From Duck Soup:
"To me you suggest a baboon. ...I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. It isn't fair to the rest of the baboons."
- From A Fish Called Wanda:
Otto: "Don't call me stupid!"
Wanda: "Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people!"
- A version appears in The Abyss "You're going to give that rat a disease".
- In Oh My Goth by Gena Showalter, Jade Leigh says she would like to add fangs and horns to the Alpha Bitch's face (on a school election poster). She promptly changes her mind, deciding that it would be an insult to The Devil. (After the two of them escape from the virtual reality world together, she celebrates seeing those same posters.)
- The Gordon Korman book The Chicken Doesn't Skate. "To call you a pig is an insult to pigs!"
- The anti-hero of the classic satire Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself cries so much that he sprays his former boss with his tears, and then apologizes. To the tears.
- Catherine, Called Birdy: "The man was a pig, which dishonors pigs."
- In the Mage: The Ascension novel Ascension Warrior, the insanely powerful (and just plain insane) archmage Porthos Fitz-Empress, on noting that a political enemy of his is present at a meeting of the Council of the Traditions, announces that he'd thought he'd smelled a large pile of rotting fish. He then proceeds to summon a pile of dead fish so he could apologize to it for mistaking it for Vargas.
- From Lord Brocktree: "To describe the young haremaid's singing voice as akin to a frog trapped beneath a hot stone would have been a great insult to both frog and stone."
- In one Discworld book, a character calls Corporal Nobby Nobbs a pig, and another responds "Hey now. I've known some splendid pigs."
- In another book, Nobby is described by saying that the only reason why you can't say that he's close to the animal kingdom is that the animal kingdom would get up and move away.
- One book remarks that Ankh-Morpork is known as the Big Wahoonie, the wahoonie being a large foul-smelling root vegetable, then adds that even the wahoonie doesn't smell as bad as Ankh-Morpork on a hot summer's day.
- In The Art of Discworld, Terry Pratchett says that one of the inspirations for Greebo was his own Russian Blue, who has the intelligence of a rubber band "and at that I'll probably be accused of being offensive to stationery equipment".
- In the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, the author claims that to refer to a certain pimp known as "Rude Trevor" as an "intemperate murderous lunatic" would "hurt the feelings of most intemperate murderous lunatics".
- From Star Wars: Crosscurrent: Loveable Rogue Khedryn Faal makes a rude comment about enemy smuggler Earsh's ship, prompting this exchange:
Earsh: You calling my ship trash, Faal?
Khedryn: Calling your ship trash would be an insult to trash.
- In Storm from the Shadows, Solarian League Battle Fleet Admiral Josef Byng is described by one character as not having "the brains God gave a cockroach", to which another character later says that the first person was "doing cockroaches a disservice". In Mission of Honor Admiral Sandra Crandall is described as having "the disposition of a grizzly bear with hemorrhoids trying to pass pinecones", after which another character thinks the comment "gross libel against grizzly bears".
- At one point in the Belisarius Series, Irene got angry at Ousanas, calling him "a foul creature from a foul land. Now I know where Homer got the inspiration for the Cyclops." A moment later, she brightened up and apologized for slandering "the memory of an honorable monster of legend."
- In V. C. Andrews's Midnight Whispers, Jefferson is ranting about his (and the protagonist's) aunt, who favors her own children over them and therefore punishes Jefferson constantly, and calls her "a low worm!" Christie tells him not to insult worms.
- In The Wheel of Time, Towers of Midnight, with Egwene utterly crushing Elaida in a debate, Elaida tries to bully Egwene into subservience with a rather hammy Who Dares?.
"I dare the truth, Elaida. You are a coward and a tyrant. I'd name you Darkfriend as well, but I suspect that the Dark One would perhaps be embarrassed to associate with you."
- In one of G. K. Chesterton's Mr. Pond stories, a General is explaining his thought processes to a subordinate, and the Lemony Narrator comments that he's the sort of person who enjoys explaining things to the dog, before adding "It would be unjust to compare Lieutenant Von Hocheimer to a dog. It would be unjust to the dog, who is a much more sensitive and vigilant creature."
- In Neal Stephenson's Reamde, a reviewer once apparently stated about Devin Skraelin that "to say he is tin-eared would render a disservice to a blameless citizen of the periodic table of the elements."
- In The Secret of Platform 13, Nanny Brown agrees to go along with Larina's kidnapping plan in part because she knows that someone has to take care of the stolen baby:
- I, Claudius: Claudius' mother, Antonia, manages to make this one do double duty, by finding something a moment later that she thinks is a sufficiently insulting comparison.
Antonia: That man ought to be put out of the way! He's as stupid as a donkey--what am I saying? Donkeys are sensible beings by comparison--he's as stupid as... as... Heavens, he's as stupid as my son Claudius!
- Papillon features an inmate who says to a guard: "I would spit on you, but my spit would just get dirty."
Live Action TV
- In the Firefly episode "Shindig"
Sir Warrick Harrow: I know [Badger]. And I think he's a psychotic low-life.
Captain Mal Reynolds: And I think calling him that is an insult to the psychotic low-life community.
- In a 3rd Rock from the Sun episode, Mary told Dick, "To say that you behaved childishly is an insult to children everywhere!"
- That 70s Show:
Red: Eric, what did I tell you about comparing your sister to the Devil?
Eric: That it's insulting to the Devil?
Sam when she sees Carly's painting: Who's that? Freddie?
Carly: No! It's a clown!
Sam: Oops. Sorry, Clown.
- In Doctors, an ex of Daniel's left a baby in the surgery. When he insisted it was nothing to do with him, Michelle called him a horrible stinking rat. Archie asked that they not insult rats.
- In Friends "The One Where Mr. Heckles Dies":
Rachel: Have you ever seen so much crap?
Chandler: Actually, I think this apartment sullies the good name of crap.
- During an episode of Cheap Seats dedicated to Roller Derby:
Jason: Roller Derby was once considered "Poor Man's Wrestling", which I think we can all agree is a tremendous insult to wrestling.
Randy: ...and the poor.
- True Blood: Talbot insulting werewolves:
Talbot: "Please they're all dumber than a box of rocks."
Werewolf: "That's unfair!"
Talbot: "To boxes maybe. (Pause) Or rocks."
- The Daily Show once featured a segment where, trying to debate whether Fox News were stupid or evil, Wyatt Cenac (on Team Evil) noted that if they weren't evil they were as stupid as potatoes with mouths. Jon Oliver (on Team Stupid) helpfully pointed out that potatoes can still power a digital clock, and suggested rocks with mouths.
- The Colbert Report: In the midst of heaping abuse on Canton, Kansas Stephen says that converting the town to a landfill would be an insult to landfills.
- The last episode of Room 101, when Ian Hislop tried to put in Piers Morgan and mentioned how in Private Eye they call him Piers Moron.
Paul Merton: Is that unfair to morons?
Ian: And to piers. I mean, Southend -- very nice.
- When Paul eventually did pull the lever to send Morgan into Room 101, an alarm went off and it was announced that Room 101 had rejected him for being too toxic.
Czarsky: Haven't you embarrassed yourself enough already?
Shawn: Hardly. I'm just getting started, you giant cockroach. (beat) You know what, that was out of line. I apologize to cockroaches everywhere.
- In the very first episode of Doctor Who in 1963, the Doctor uses this on his first ever human companion, Ian, who is complaining about being condescended to. It would surely be a throwaway line if it were uttered today by Matt Smith, but this is William Hartnell we're talking about here.
Ian: You're treating us like children!
The Doctor: Am I? The children of MY civilization would be insulted.
- Based on the idiom "Everything resembles it's owner", El Chavo Del Ocho made a comparison of Doña Florinda and a broom. When Don Ramón told him that that was offensive. El Chavo responded that doesn't matter, because brooms doesn't understand.
- In The Suite Life On Deck, Bailey compares talking to London to talking to a tractor. Zack promptly replies that it's an insult to tractors.
- In the Star Trek episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles", a drunk Klingon calls the Enterprise a garbage scow. When Scotty demands an explanation, the Klingon apologizes for his misstatement, saying, "I didn't mean to say that the Enterprise should be hauling garbage. I meant to say that it should be hauled away as garbage!" Fisticuffs ensue.
- From Sabrina the Teenage Witch when Hilda is forced to tell jokes by a magical belt.
Hilda: "You should meet my mother-in-law. I used to say she was ugly as sin. Sin sued"
- On an episode of WWE Raw, Chris Jericho would call Stephanie McMahon a "filthy, dirty, disgusting, brutal, skanky, bottom-feeding, trash-bag ho!" When he was forced to apologize, he apologized to all the filthy, dirty, disgusting, brutal, skanky, bottom-feeding, trash-bag hoes for even comparing them to Stephanie.
- There was another that came with the end of Vince McMahon's Kiss My Ass Club. The Rock, after winning a match that stipulated Vince was to pucker up and plant one on Rock's bottom, (see what I did there?) Rock stops him before his moment of humiliation, exclaiming "Your lips are not good enough to kiss the People's Ass!!!" He then teased him with the prospect of kissing Torrie Wilson's firm glutes... BEFORE SIGNALING FOR RIKISHI.
- Wizards of Waverly Place: "You're so far ahead, you might as well be competing with that chair-oops. Sorry, chair."
Ravi: He has the personal hygiene of a wolverine!
Bertram: That's offensive to wolverines. They occasionally lick themselves clean.
- Dave Bartholomew's "The Monkey Speaks His Mind". In the song, three monkeys claim that the idea that man evolved from primates is an insult to monkeys.
Mike Nelson: Danny De Vito!
Kevin Murphy: Mike, that's a horrible insult to the Thing!
- The News Biscuit article "Underworld does not want Blair's book in crime section" responds to an Internet campaign to move Tony Blair's memoirs to the 'crime' section of bookshops by suggesting the criminal underworld is "unhappy at being associated with Mr Blair as it makes them feel 'dirty'".
- This cartoon. It refers to an incident where Ken Livingstone compared an Evening Standard journalist he was exasperated with to a concentration camp guard.
- Jason Sartin's review of the tabletop RPG F.A.T.A.L. notes that "saying that this game should be burned is an insult to fire." Later, he says that "giving FATAL a 1/1 Style/Substance rating was an insult to almost every other product on RPGnet that ever got a 1/1."
- Along with his Racial Holy War's "Badness" rating: "To say that this game sucks would be an insult to oral sex."
- Two recaps by The Agony Booth have done it so far.
- Speaking of Battlefield Earth, J.D. Shapiro, one of the credited screenwriters (he wrote the first draft, and was fired due to Executive Meddling), started an apology letter on the movie with this:
" Let me start by apologizing to anyone who went to see "Battlefield Earth." It wasn't as I intended -- promise. No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn't really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those."
"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels."
- And A Lot Like Love: "To call A Lot Like Love dead in the water is an insult to water."
- And The Spirit: "To call the characters cardboard is to insult a useful packing material."
- And, of course, The Village: "Eventually the secret of Those, etc., is revealed. To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes."
- Additionally, discussing Ishtar on their Worst of 87 special, Gene Siskel said, "I just saw Road To Morocco, and it is funnier than Ishtar--of course, that's really, I guess, an insult to Road to Morocco. Anything is funnier than Ishtar--except Leonard Part 6."
- Of Battle: Los Angeles, he said: "Here's a science-fiction film that's an insult to the words "science" and "fiction," and the hyphen in between them."
- His former workmate Richard Roeper, listing Jonah Hex among the worst of 2010:
Megan Fox is truly the Raquel Welch of our generation. And maybe that's an insult to Raquel Welch.
"The sound quality is the crappiest this side of the original NES and the compositions are so dull, so bland, so sickening, that you'll think it was composed by an ape! I apologize; I meant no disrespect to the ape community."
- This review of Harry Potter features the line "To say it's massively dissatisfying and frustrating is to do massively dissatisfying and frustrating things a great disservice." Needless to say, it's not a very positive review.
- "Calling Friedberg and Seltzer untalented hacks is an insult to REAL untalented hacks like Uwe Boll, Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, and Eli Roth." -- Squid Vicious, Joblo.com
- Linkara did a crossover review with the Last Angry Geek of Spider-Man: One Moment in Time. Said comic was supposed to be an explanation of the whole mess that One More Day ended up creating, but only ended up making it worse. Linkara once again loudly declares that Joe Quesada is a hack, and that calling him one was actually doing a favor to the other hacks out there by making them look better.
- On the Cinema Snob webpage comments on Suburban Knights, in response to a troll:
Adam: So your method to criticise something you'll never watch is to swear about the people involved? That's not a critical opinion, that's throwing a tantrum for attention. Congrats, you're equal to my 4 year-old cousin.
Linkara: Now that, sir, is simply unfair. 4 year-olds don't know any better.
- The Cinema Snob, while reviewing "Brazilian Star Wars":
To say that these dipshits overdo it on the silly factor would just take the dignity of the word silly.
Snob: Oh good, because for a minute there I thought...you know what? This movie is so fucking awful that comparing it to Uwe Boll is an insult to UWE BOLL!
- And in reviewing the fundamentalist propaganda film "Rock: It's Your Decision", he says that calling the Captain and Tennille "sin" is a sin against the word "sin".
- Obscurus Lupa, on The Room: "I'd go as far as saying The Room is this generation's Troll 2, but I'd be afraid of insulting Troll 2."
- In SB Sarah's savage review of Cassie Edwards's Savage Moon, she comments: "I might have to modify our grading schedule and give it a Z except that the poor letter Z did nothing to deserve being permanently stuck on a Cassie Edwards novel."
- Comic Simon B. Cotter, relating his attempt to lose weight, said he knew that he had to start when he got his BMI checked and found that he had 21% body fat.
Simon: To put that in perspective, a pig has 19. If you call me a pig...it's actually an insult to the pig. 'You fat pig!' 'Well, thank you, I have been working out.'
- Rich Hall's country singing character Otis Lee Crenshaw says this about his family
"Calling my family white trash would be an insult to polystyrene"
- In Baldur's Gate II:
Nalia: He is a complete and total bastard, and calling him that insults bastards everywhere!
- From Rome: Total War, there's the description of the "Deranged" trait:
"There are those who say that this man gibbers like a deranged rock ape. The rock apes will take offence at this slur."
We'd call him a weasel at heart, if he had a heart and it wasn't an insult to respectable weasels.
- In Jade Empire, one of the more fucked up people you meet in the game, aside from the villains themselves, is the powerful Judge Fang: a man so disgustingly perverted that he's implied to have gotten off to a corrupt guard's genitals being torn off by starved dogs in addition to paying a prostitute a lot of money to allow him to "do things to her" that makes his own guards both flinch at their offensiveness but still pity her for having to put up with him. If your main character comments "Sounds like a really sick and twisted person", the guard quips "Nah. I wouldn't call him sick and twisted. That would be an insult to all sick and twisted people everywhere. Fang, he's on a whole other level..."
- In Lords of the Realm the default insulting message contains the line:
"You look like a toad. No, that's an insult to toads, you look worse".
- Tales of the Abyss has this exchange when a coachman mistakes Luke and Tear for bandits.
Luke: Don't go comparing me to some pathetic bandits!
Tear: Yes, you might upset the bandits.
- In an The Order of the Stick strip, V compares Belkar's mental abilities to a table. V later apologizes to the tables of the world for comparing Belkar to them.
- And his exact words in the initial insult were that Belkar would compare unfavorably to tables. The tables started off smarter than Belkar and he was still dumb enough to make the comparison offensive.
- In Between Failures, Mike finds himself confronting Reggie over setting the microwave on fire. When he mentions the number of accident reports in Reggie's file (long story short, Reggie's reliance on his executive aunt's interference makes the official quantity "long past too many"), Reggie interrupts to point out that they were all accidents, just like the term says. Mike states in no uncertain terms that "accident" is no longer sufficient to describe the things Reggie accomplishes, and that it's entirely possible that there is no word for what Reggie does, but either way, it's not fair to accidents to lump them in with Reggie.
- Done implicitly in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: 
- In Ozy and Millie, Millie comments that the school's pit orchestra isn't good enough to deserve the word "pit".
- Schlock Mercenary once mentioned that "Most politicians are uncomfortable being compared to tumors. The tumors, however, are getting the short end of the stick".
- The Cinema Snob enjoys using comparisons like this.
- He found German slasher film Violent Shit so awful that comparing it to Uwe Boll is an insult to Uwe Boll.
- Out-of-character, he looks at the propaganda film Rock: It's Your Decision! where the protagonist lists off "sinful" bands, including The Captain and Tenille.
Calling Captain and Tenille a sin, is an insult to the word sin.
- In a micro-commercial for Pinky and The Brain, the Brain said Pinky had the approximate IQ of an empty soap dish. "I take it back. I don't want to insult the soap dish."
- Tripping the Rift - When Angel calls the alien T'Nuk a cow for knocking her out of her chair:
Chode: She's not a cow.
T'Nuk: Thank you, Chode.
Chode: Cows have a quiet dignity and serve a purpose.
Chode: Let's not drag your mother into this.
- And let's not get into the implication that T'Nuk's mother was somehow a male donkey.
- Johnny Test: Dirt tastes better than Mr. Test's cooking. Johnny checked.
- In one The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode Sonic mentions that he'd like to call Robotnik a slime bucket, "but that would be an insult to decent slime buckets everywhere!"
- Spider-Man to Hobgoblin:
"Personally, I'd never call you a fool. That'd be an insult to fools everywhere."
- Beavis and Butthead, discussing Scatman John's "Scatman" music video.
Beavis: They should have a "Crap" section in the records store.
Butthead: Uhhh, yeah. It should be out in the dumpster.
Beavis: No way, Butthead. There's cool stuff in the dumpster. You wouldn't want to mess it up with this crap.
- On Total Drama World Tour, LeShawna opens a can of peanuts only for a little Chris head to pop out.
LeShawna: A-Chris-In-The-Box? That's an insult to boxes.
- "I'd say you were a carnival barker -- except that wouldn't be fair to carnival barkers! A carny will at least tell you up front that he's running a shell game!" Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) to Kenneth Lay, Feb. 12, 2002
- David Letterman on the OJ Simpson trial: "To call this trial a circus is an insult to the fine people at Ringling Brothers!"
- "I'd call her a cunt, but she lacks the depth and the charm." -- William Styron. Nobody seems to know who he was referring to.
- In one of Bill Maher's 2010 monologues, he compares the anti-immigration reforms of Arizona to Nazi Germany. He then takes it back because "the Germans knew how to dress themselves."
- There is a Facebook group that claims that calling Edward Cullen gay is an insult to gay people.
- Found here.
- Jon Stewart, towards Sarah Palin:
Palin: What's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom?
Stewart: One is a variety of dog that's unfairly maligned in spite of being no worse than other varieties of dog, and the other is an artificial demographic of mothers no better than other mothers? (Jon has a pit bull himself. He's a bit touchy on the subject.)
- On the UseNet newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.email, comparing a spammer to anything will get you a metaphorical call from the proper Anti-Defamation League.
- Classic lawyer joke: A man loses a lot of money in a trial and goes to a bar to drown his sorrows. As he gets more and more drunk, he finally slams his mug down on the bar and shouts, "Godammit! Lawyers are nothing but a load of scumbags!" The man sitting next to him turns and says, "Mister, I take offense to that." "Why, you a lawyer?" "No, sir. I am a scumbag."
- “I would call them scumbags, but that would be an insult to bags of scum." --Dennis Miller, in reference to the French.
- Another classic joke: A man walks into a bar and starts complaining about the president, finally saying "The president is a horse's ass!" Another man says "Hey, don't talk like that in here." The man says "You can't tell me you actually like that horse's ass!" "No, but this is horse country."
- Another generic one is calling someone "retarded", then taking it back because "that insults the intelligence of the mentally retarded."
- Rare case of it actually occurring: Binghamton athletic director Joel Thirer compared the basketball team to a zoo. The Binghamton Zoo got offended. ("Not one of our tigers has been arrested with cocaine. No otter knocks over old ladies to shoplift condoms.").
- Quoth Dan Savage: "Your boyfriend is an asshole. Wait, maybe I'm not being fair—to assholes, which are as delightful as they are functional. Your boyfriend is a piece of shit, a loose stool, a santorum slick."
- British MEP Nigel Farage was ordered to apologise after comparing the President of the European Council to a low-grade bank clerk. His response was to issue an apology to bank clerks.