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Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida, was roundly criticized by fellow policymakers yesterday for directing a derogatory term at a colleague. On a radio program, Grayson called Linda Robinson, an adviser to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, a “K street whore.” Grayson’s camp has refused to backpedal from the term, instead releasing a statement urging the media to “be clear about the context.” According to a Grayson spokesperson, “The attack was on her professional career, not her personal life.”

Calling a person a “whore” in any context is derogatory, so insisting that “whore” be taken “in context” strikes me as a misguided exercise here. But let’s humor Grayson’s camp for a minute. According to them, the “K street” portion of the comment demonstrates that Grayson was, at least, confining the insult to Robinson’s professional reputation as a lobbyist, and not suggesting that Robinson bears any personal resemblance to a prostitute.

CBS News explains the context this way: “K street is where many Washington lobbyists work, and ‘K Street whore’ is a derogatory—-though not uncommon—-phrase used to describe them in the nation’s capital.”

As long as we’re being clear on context, we ought to note that it’s not just political “whores” populating the K street corridor. That street is also notorious in Washington for hosting prostitutes of the more traditional variety. Anyone who’s driven down K Street after sundown—-around, oh, 6th Street or 11th Street NW—-knows that tacking “K street” onto “whore” doesn’t clarify a damn thing. K street is a main conduit for sex work in D.C., and “K street whores” are as likely to be actual prostitutes as they are lobbyists. I wouldn’t be surprised if the high concentration of prostitutes and the lobbyist traffic went hand-in-hand.

Personally, I find casting lobbyists as “whores” offensive to sex workers. But if Grayson wants to continue to insist that the term was only meant to degrade the street’s for-hire politicos, he’d to best to find a “whore” modifier that doesn’t just double as another euphemism for “prostitute.”