raghead

I didn’t get a chance to come back yesterday because…well…I am trying to finish the first free creative workshop and its just like…every time I make a pass through the course I add more stuff.

But I am almost happy with it.

It is my first time working in an online teaching platform and what it allows me to do is impressive. Of course, I am not taking full advantage of it right now because this is my first go around but I look at my plans for the next courses and can see a) how much faster they will be to assemble and b) how much more time they will take me to assemble because now I really know what I can do “up there.”

In between I rode my bicycle around town, ostensibly on a search for some rosin for the impending arrival of the violin. But more because…that is what I do. I ride for miles and then stop for coffee and then ride home. It clears my head.

And my head needed clearing.

Senator Jake Knotts of South Carolina recently referred to Rep. Nikki Haley as “raghead.” Stating, on an Internet radio show, “We’ve got a raghead in Washington we don’t need one in the Statehouse.”

Senator Knotts then said (after criticized about the term) that it was meant as a joke, appropriate to the free-wheeling radio show that used a brand of humor similar to saturday night live.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford made the comment that in the tail end of an election ” a lot of zany stuff happens.”

Now…

let me explain something simply.

The only type of humor that is found in making comments that are denigrating to someone else, particular through the use of a slur, is playground humor. Playground humor is allowed for children who have not achieved the kind of social and emotional maturity to “know better.”

It is not funny for any adult to use a slur in any type of situation. And do you know what? You can take all the “we are reclaiming the word” BS and blow it out you’re a** as well.

You cannot reclaim a word that has been used to insult and demean a type of person for decades.

“Nigger” is always an insult no matter whose mouth it comes out of.

Just like “bitch” or “faggot” or “raghead” or any other kind of slur.

These words have too much cultural meaning tied to them to ever become anything other than an insult. To think that you can “reclaim” a word by allowing only gay people to use faggot as a term of endearment or righteous identity is…ridiculous. Listen to how the people who are deemed “allowed” to use a reclaimed word use it.

And this is not about being politically correct.

Politically correct has to do with oh say…trying to walk the tightrope between Native American and Indian. Some Indians want to be called Native American and some Native Americans want to be called Indians because these words are interpreted as carrying a signifier of respect and recognition from the other person being addressed. I probably wouldn’t even have to take my hands out of my pocket to count the number of Native Americans who would prefer to use the term “Timber Nigger” amongst themselves as part of reclaiming the word much less want to hear it out of mine.

Ethnophaulism is the official name for an ethnic slur. An ethnic slur is any word or label used to make insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or insulting manner in the English-speaking world. For the purposes of this list, an ethnic slur is a term or word[s] used to insult on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality.

It is an insult no matter whose mouth it comes out of. Humor is never, ever found in insults. Sadness is. Sadness in the recognition that the person uttering it feels so threatened that they must seek to put down someone else to make themselves bigger.

Humor, for adults, can be very tricky to navigate. Children are allowed greater leniency in what they use as humor because we recognize that they are ignorant of many things. But what is an adult’s excuse?

Growing up means just that. Being an adult means you have left behind childish things. It is involves learning to make choices about what you say and do because you recognize that you are a part of something so much larger. That is also why trying to reclaim the meaning of a slur within the ethnic group does not work. As the slur is used to insult the group through separation and isolation of characteristics, trying to use it in a positive way as part of the group identity does the same thing.

Of all the things you can choose to have as part of your ethnic identity, why choose what to the rest of the world is a slur? You cannot undo the meaning. Like how a noose in a tree will never be anything but a symbol of race hatred and lynching and will never be a “celebratory rope commemorating differences.”

Which term should be used changes. But, that is part of being a member of society, keeping up with an awareness of what is respectful to the person you are addressing.

France recently fined one of its Interior Ministers for his “joke.” Money always has an impact on politicians. Perhaps we need to start tying a dollar amount to these “zany” moments.

Chapter 9: History of Hudge and Gudge

What is Wrong with the World
by GK Chesterton as read by Cassandra Tribe

available in the public domain


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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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