So the point—just in case you missed it, Ray—is this: There are a million different words someone can use to express racial hatred. No single litmus test can effectively weed the racists from your midst.
And, so, eventually, I arrived at my third, and final, justification for avoiding the n-word; namely, that using the n-word damages a person’s credibility and makes him look like an uneducated fool. And, all things being equal, I’d rather come across as educated so people will take me seriously.
But enough about the way I monitor my own language. I have a few things to say about your suggestion that I should monitor the language of others. Specifically, I think your view is flawed for two reasons.
First of all, your view is simply unworkable. Censors like you are never satisfied by an initial goal—in this case monitoring the n-word. Pretty soon, you’ll be asking me to monitor and condemn those who use words that sound like racial epithets. If you think I’m exaggerating, consider an incident at one of our local middle schools.
When a school teacher used the word “niggardly” in a Wilmington, North Carolina, classroom a few years ago, she was accused of racism by people who didn’t even know the meaning of the word “niggardly”—or the meaning of the word “racism,” for that matter. Even a UNCW political science professor said she was being racially insensitive for using a word that sounded like an epithet.
Consider the logical implications of this for a moment. Must I refrain from talking about beer so I do not offend a queer? Must I refrain from talking about a stag so I do not offend a fag? Must I keep silent about my trigger because it might offend a—Ray, I hope you’re getting my point by now.
But the other—and more serious—reason that your view is wrong is that it is actually racist. I hear young black males (I never seem to hear it from black females) using the n-word almost every day on my campus. You have not suggested that I should condemn them for using the n-word. You want me to condemn David Allan Coe simply because he is white.
In other words, Ray, you want me to hold white people to a higher standard than black people. That is the view my university takes on a number of issues – including the admission of blacks, the hiring of blacks, and the tenure and promotion of blacks. It is simply a racist view. And, needless to say, I’ll have nothing to do with that kind of racism.
But I have another thing to say before I sign off, Ray. I want you to be a little more niggardly in your use of these boycotts. That was the whole point of the original article before racism once again took us off topic.