In the wake of the Michael Richards scandal, Jesse Jackson has thoughtfully stepped forward to announce a new addition to the Orwellian NewSpeak pantheon: the deletion of a word from the English language (and you know which word I mean).
I wasn’t really paying attention to this whole thing because (a) I’m bored by now with media conniptions about the stupid things Hollywood types do (they’re Hollywood types, for goodness sakes, not an army of Miss Manners); and (b) because, being a polite person myself, I don’t use rude language, especially racially insulting rude language. Since I don’t use that kind of language, I really didn’t stop and think about the larger implications of Jesse’s ukase. John Ridley, however, writing an LA Times op-ed, did think about it, though, and he doesn’t like what he sees:
WHEN EMBATTLED, uh, comedian Michael Richards sat down with the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Monday, the big news wasn’t his repeating, for the 1,000th time, that he had no idea where all that “nigger” stuff came from, didn’t mean to hurt anybody, feels terrible about the whole thing … yada, yada, yada.
The big news coming out of this meeting of minds is that Jackson, as supreme leader of all things black, has launched Operation N-word Freedom, a campaign to liberate the nation (finally!) from the dreaded N-word. Jesse now challenges all black people everywhere to “give our ancestors a present.” No, not the gift of elevation though education and hard work. Jesse wants us to stop using hurtful words.
Jesse wants this?
Jesse Jackson, the same cat who once referred to Jews as “hymies” and New York as “Hymietown”? This same guy who denied it when the statement was made public, kept up the denial after the journalist who reported his slur had his life threatened, and only under immense pressure finally admitted that, well, perhaps he’d made a slip of the tongue? Twice?
And he wants to lecture us regarding the usage of hurtful words?
I am all for having open and intelligent discourse on the word “nigger.” What I am wholly against are hypocrites who sling hate in private, then smile to us while they lie, telling the rest of us that intellectual debate is closed.
Sorry, Mr. Jackson, but the America I support through paying taxes in my over-inflated bracket allows me not to bow down automatically to your linguistic fatwas. Not all of us quake and quiver before mere words.
Ridley’s absolutely right, of course, a point he makes patently clear in another eight amusing and well-reasoned paragraphs. Don’t miss it.
Hat tip: Kevin. (Thanks!)