The word maverick means something specific to musicologists, and Kyle Gann, my favorite of that bunch, says thank you John McCain and Sarah Palin for debasing the word so thoroughly that “it will be at least a generation, maybe two, before anyone will be able to use the word non-ironically again.”
Gann, a Reader contributor before he moved to New York years ago, argues at artsjournal.com that the word’s been used to “legitimize” certain wayward modern composers but exempt others who are wayward in the same ways. In other words, to dress up favored composers as “lone dissenters” and pretend they aren’t products of their milieus. Sort of like Palin, I guess, being hailed by commentators for the plucky way she’s strutted her maverick stuff before throngs of true believers to whom every word is gospel.
If you check out what Gann has to say, be sure to scroll down to his exchange with “Tarot Reader,” who comes to Palin’s defense by invoking the likes of Poe and Thoreau. And here’s an earlier post by Gann, where he works out his maverick argument at much greater length.