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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Nigger Trigger

by CLINTON FEIN

How about the F-word?

I’m so over hearing the likes of Jesse Jackson, the black male version of media whore, Gloria Allred, preaching his self-righteous drivel.

As much for the ridiculous thought process he inspires in others as his own un-American meanderings.

In the wake of the Michael Richards “nigger” meltdown, Jackson and some friends have decided that the word nigger is “unprotected” from a First Amendment standpoint. Really?

I’m sure people are going to take issue with me making this argument. After all, I was born in South Africa during the height of apartheid, and so even if what I have to say is legitimate, I will be criticized as racist. So be it. This debate is too important to ignore, and not enough people are saying what’s really wrong or right, because political correctness precludes them. Well not me.

In fact, the point I am making stems from my passionate advocacy in support of the First Amendment, and the federal lawsuits behind me to back me up. Racism is irrelevant to my thinking on this subject.

Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic meltdown was no less vitriolic because he used the word Jew instead of the more derogatory kike or hooknose. His seething sentiments were perfectly communicated by the context and delivery in which they were proffered, not by his choice of words.

Similarly, Michael Richards’ tirade was shocking because of the sentiments he communicated, not because he used the word nigger. Had he told the black men in the audience that he didn’t appreciate being heckled by African Americans, would that really have made the comment any more palatable? Would joking about a fork up the ass of an African American have been acceptable? Didn’t think so.

There is absolutely no sense in forcing the cloaking of bigoted sentiments in verbal niceties, because all that does is further enrage the person holding those feelings, and potentially lull the recipient of such sentiment into a false sense of security. In other words, no one is served.

For years, the word “queer” was used as an epithet against gays and lesbians until they had the good sense to co-opt it and own it, be empowered by it, and refuse to be victimized by it.

There are still homophobes who would toss the word queer as a hateful epithet, but it simply doesn’t have the sting it once did.

Jesse Jackson’s wishful thinking, that the entire hip-hop community will suddenly stop using the word nigga (note the more acceptable gangsta rap spelling of the word) is not only delusional, but connotes the raising of a white flag in any attempts to co-opt the word as a tool of empowerment.

Paul Mooney, a comedian and writer who wrote for Richard Pryor and Saturday Night Live, apparently ripped into Richards with Greta van Susteren on Fox News, although was more conciliatory Monday evening with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. "He's my Dr. Phil," the comedian, who happens to be black, said of Richards. "He's cured me."

Mooney told Olbermann that in light of the Richards controversy and Jesse Jackson’s subsequent request, (or is it a demand?) that he’s dropping the use of the word nigger from his act. He also told Olbermann that returning troops didn’t need to come home (as if) to hear that kind of word being used when we have so much else on our plate.

By all means, Mr. Mooney, Reverend Jackson and others who make a conscious choice not to use the derogatory word, as is their right, go ahead. But aside from the fact that there may be just as many troops astounded that their attempts to fight for freedoms abroad are being corroded by politically correct buffoons at home, there are those of us for whom a bigger question exists.

If you can’t utter the word nigger, how do you teach a child when, how and why it was used and subsequently banned?

"We want to give our ancestors a present," Jackson said at a hastily convened news conference on Monday. "Dignity over degradation." It's not a clever sound byte and it doesn't even really make sense in the context.

"There's a horrible word that bad people once used to refer to blacks, little Joe. I don't want to even mention it, it's so bad. You'll know it when you hear it. When you listen to old songs, when you look at old news reports...in fact, there was a time when certain people even used to murder black people with pride. It's called the L-word, and no that's not lesbian. You used to be able to see pictures of such horror too, but we've cleansed our books and archives of it. Trust me, it was awful."

Have we all gone insane?

Actions speak a lot louder than words in this instance. And it’s actions, deeds and thinking that need changing, not words. Your ancestors, Jesse Jackson, would be more impressed by your defense of the Constitution than your attack on it by virtue of a mere word. They've suffered enough without now having to have their experiences sugar-coated.

 
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