The expression “I could care less” is a bit of Yiddish sarcasm that causes frothing fury among the pedants. Dr. Boli has always wondered why, and he has decided at last to ask his readers.
Whether the expression is originally Yiddish or not, “I could care less” fits right into the stream of Jewish irony that doubtless began long before the Old Testament books were written and continues uninterrupted to the present day. Jesus of Nazareth was a prominent exponent of that sort of irony.
And the Pharisees said unto him, “Behold, these men with whom thou eatest and drinkest are publicans and sinners.” And Jesus said, “I could care less.” (Mark 53:48.)
“But that’s not what you mean,” say the pedants. “You mean that you could not care less. You are saying the opposite of what you mean!”
Yes, that is the point of sarcasm. Sarcasm, in the current use of the term, is irony with a steel-toed boot. One says the opposite of what one means for the purpose of kicking the subject in a sneering manner. It is a technique familiar to children of elementary-school age, so there is no reason why it should baffle college graduates.
One wonders how these pedants react to other well-known sarcastic expressions. How do they believe one should respond to them? “No, Ollie, it is not a nice mess I have gotten you into. It is a very distressing mess, and I am truly sorry.”
Or is “I could care less” uniquely offensive? Dr. Boli is asking all of you for your opinions.