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The Old Man in the Shoe / Had so many blogs / he didn’t know what to do!

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What follows I’ve recycled from my first blog, and although Michael Richards is no longer under the hot light and blatant racism seems other than the talk of the town, Miley Cyrus has caught some heat recently for a remark she made about the judgment of septuagenarian Jewish record producers. Sideways, perhaps, this from 2010 — different incident, same ballpark — responds to that latest in the politics of the psychology of small differences.

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Nigger.

Want some more?

Kike. Wop. Spic. Kraut. Dink. Jap. Mick. Honky. Frog. Greaseball.

How’s that?

Context and intent count.

Just so no English language speaker is caught short or left behind while trading the dozens, The Racial Slur Database lists some 2,649 of these pejoratives.

Contempt, which is what epithets express, contribute to our defensive arsenal in language: they are the weapons we reach for when we are done with words and reason and, overall, ready to rumble.

Sometimes they come out when rumbling.

Comedian Michael Richards, who had played Cosmo Kramer on television’s Sienfeld, responded to hecklers while working a mike at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood with an out of control “N word” tirade. According to one of the hecklers, Kyle Doss, Richards, responding to a loud group ordering drinks, had said, “Look at the stupid Mexicans and black being loud up there,” before continuing his routine. Doss, according to Doss, had moments later said to him, “My friend doesn’t think you’re funny.” [1]

Richards then sunk his career while his hecklers made their fame calling him a cracker and a “fucking white boy” on their way away from the factory explosion.

It’s true Richards went off, but the heckler reposte suggests we’re all loaded with similar language and, most of the time, we’re just holding our fire.

It turns out we’re pretty good with one another and what goes on in the back of our head by way of examination, judgment, discrimination, and attitude — this applies as much to husbands and wives as well as, say, believers and kaffir — stays in the backs of our heads. As much helps account for our civility: we’re aware of our background static of mixed beliefs, emotions, and impulses, and, with rare exception, we not only contain ourselves but continuously work on ourselves, the better to live with ourselves as well as others.

Although I’ve stated this basis for fair transaction nicely, we may not have much choice about it, as we humans have going a naturally built-in and permanent encounter with conscience with an equally fierce taste for, oh, the horror, love and mutuality.

Last week, wildly popular talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger picked up on the term “nigger” after being fed it during this exchange with a caller:

Caller: I’m having an issue with my husband where I’m starting to grow very resentful of him. I’m black, and he’s white. We’ve been around some of his friends and family members who start making racist comments as if I’m not there or if I’m not black, and my husband ignores those comments, and it hurts my feelings. And he acts like —

Schlessinger: Well can you give me an example of a racist comment? ‘Cause sometimes people are hypersensitive. So tell me what’s — give me two good examples of racist comments.

Caller: Okay. Last night — good example — we had a neighbor come over, and this neighbor — when every time he comes over, it’s always a black comment. It’s, “Oh, well, how do you black people like doing this?” And, “Do black people really like doing that?” And for a long time, I would ignore it. But last night, I got to the point where it –

Schlessinger: I don’t think that’s racist.

Caller: Well, the stereotype . . .

Schlessinger: I don’t think that’s racist. No, I think that . . .

Caller: (unintelligible)

Schlessinger: No, no, no. I think that’s — well, listen, without giving much thought, a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply ’cause he was half-black. Didn’t matter what he was gonna do in office, it was a black thing. You gotta know that. That’s not a surprise. Not everything that somebody says — we had friends over the other day; we got about 35 people here — the guys who were gonna start playing basketball. I was going to go out and play basketball. My bodyguard and my dear friend is a black man. And I said, “White men can’t jump; I want you on my team.” That was racist? That was funny.

Caller: How about N-word? So, the N-word’s been thrown around . . .

Schlessinger: Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is nigger, nigger, nigger.

Caller: That isn’t —

Schlessinger: I don’t get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it’s a horrible thing, but when black people say it, it’s affectionate. It’s very confusing. Don’t hang up. I want to talk to you some more. Don’t go away. I’m Dr. Laura Schlessinger, I’ll be right back . . . .

Schlessinger: I’m Dr. Laura Schlessinger, talking to Jade. What did you think about during the break, by the way?

Caller: I was a little caught back by the N-word that you spewed out, I have to be honest with you. But my points is, race relations . . .

Schlessinger: Oh, then I guess you don’t watch HBO or listen to any black comedians.

Caller: But that doesn’t make it right.

Schlessinger: Yeah, I think you have too much sensitivity . . .

Caller: So it’s okay to say “nigger”?

Schlessinger: and not enough sense of humor.

Caller: It’s okay to say that word?

Schlessinger: It depends how it’s said.

Caller: Is it okay to say that word? Is it ever okay to say that word?

Schlessinger: It’s — it depends on how it’s said. Black guys talking to each other seem to think it’s okay.”

Caller: But you’re not black. They’re not black. My husband is white.

Schlessinger: Oh, I see. So, a word is restricted to race. Got it. Can’t do much about that.

Caller: I can’t believe someone like you is on the radio spewing out the “nigger” word, and I hope everybody heard it.

Schlessinger: I didn’t spew out the “nigger” word.

Caller: You said, “nigger,” “nigger,” “nigger.”

Schlessinger: Right, I said that’s what you hear.

Caller: Everybody heard it.

Schlessinger: Yes, they did.

Caller: I hope everybody heard it.

Schlessinger: They did, and I’ll say it again —

Caller: So what makes it okay for you to say the word?

Schlessinger: And I’ll say it again — nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger is what you hear on HB –

Caller: So what makes it –

Schlessinger: Why don’t you let me finish a sentence?

Caller: okay.

Schlessinger: Don’t take things out of context. Don’t double N — NAACP — me.

I’ve transcribed from a CNN tape posted at Primewriter in a piece by Emma James [2] and will claim fair use, for understanding the character of the discussion, the initiation of the charge of racism, and reading within context fairly requires observation of how the talk really went down.

Schlessinger has apologized to the broadcasting universe, but I’m not sure for what, as the discussion seems to have been about an epithet, not any person, and as for group, the same term has long been incorporated into art (if we care to validate it as such — click on the video “Eminem’s a Bitch” included in the “Other Reference” section below).

This is all just one kike’s opinion, of course.

For the record, rapper M&M’s white, and he’s got a successful song in “Nigga” [3] — and 50 Cent approved [4].

Epithets are not evil in themselves.

Like knives, they’re tools.

In camp, we may use them affectionately (“You old son of a bitch, you”); under pressure and angered, “Why you swine” (or “dirty kaffir Zionazi Yankee pig”); and in combat, well, sticks and stones do break bones, but at that stage, words may be the least of anyone’s problems.

Cited Reference

1. Wikipedia. “Michael Richards”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Richards

2. James, Emma. “Dr. Laura Schlessinger uses the N-word transcript of controversial call on race (video). Primewriter, August 13, 2010: http://primewriter.com/news-1246-headlines/?p=8859

3. Eminem. “Nigga.” Lyrics: http://www.lyricstime.com/eminem-nigga-lyrics.html

4. Youtube poster “maxamillionentco”. “50 Cent Approves of Eminem saying “Nigga.” Posted November 8, 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4mu_ip2maw

Other Reference

Garron, Barry. “Dog used the N word? Here’s What to Do.” Past Deadline, November 2, 2007: http://www.pastdeadline.com/michael_richards/

Marikar, Sheila. “Critics: Dr. Laura’s Rant Reiterates N-Word Is Never OK: First Gays, Now Blacks: Anti-Defamation League, Paul Mooney Slam Dr. Laura Schlessinger for N-Word-Laced Rant.” ABC News, August 13, 2010: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/dr-laura-schlessinger-slammed-word-laced-rant/story?id=11394378

The Racial Slur Database: http://www.rsdb.org/

VerBruggen, Robert. “‘Cosmo Kramer’ actor uses racial epithet.” Robert’s Rationale, November 20, 2006: http://robertsrationale.blogspot.com/2006/11/cosmo-kramer-actor-uses-racial-epithet.html

Wikipedia. “Epithet”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epithet

Wikipedia. “List of ethnic slurs”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_slurs

Youtube poster “mixedfeelins”. “Eminem’s A Bitch.” Posted January 21, 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAadjZjk_Tg (love the last spoken words: “Don’t be hatin'”).

Youtube poster “meltdownvideo”. “Kramer Michael Richards Freaking Out Onstage.” Posted April 22, 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PD9o52U4260