Monday, November 27, 2006

I'm not a big fan of the word nigger. As I've mentioned before, it's one of the few taboo words that I have difficulty saying. But some of the reaction to the Michael Richards thingy really makes no sense.

Black leaders on Monday challenged the entertainment industry, including rap artists, actors and major studios, to stop use of the racial slur that triggered the Michael Richards scandal.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and others said they will meet with TV networks, film companies and musicians to discuss the "n-word." They also sought an effort by the public to stop using the term.

The regular use of nigga as an in-group identifier has confused white people to no end. And some African-American leaders as well. But it has managed to get people to see the word in a different context. And maybe that has taken a little of the sting out of it.
What's interesting is that Richards use of nigger was not one of these cases. He clearly chose the r-full version, the offensive version. I'm not sure what his point was, but he was not trying to catch somebody in a prescriptive double standard, or use the word to signify in-group status. He wanted to insult his hecklers.
But like most prescriptive language rules, If doing it sometimes gets them in trouble, they should be told not to do it at all..
Laugh Factory owner Jaime Masada ... said the comedy club will ban comedians from using all "hateful words" including the "n-word."

"We want to be the first place in the world to ask all of the comedians if they go on stage and use the 'n-word,' (it) comes out of their paycheck," Masada said.

Not letting people make fun of taboo words and those who use them is a bad idea--for comedy and language. I understand the need to feel like you are stopping people from having bad thoughts.

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