Words For Me, But Not For Thee

New year’s week is the time of year when it is traditional to look at the upcoming year. Because of the great importance of the Georgia Senate elections, it seems prudent to wait until we see the outcome. If the Republicans win one or both, Mitch McConnell will be a significant force. With the master legislative leader in charge of the Senate, getting much of anything done in Washington will need his approval. Joe and Mitch will share Capital leadership. A GOP loss of both Senate seats would allow President Biden and the Democrats much more leeway to enact their program. Predictions and comments are best to put off till after Jan. 5. 

I’ll take this time to discuss something that recently came to my attention. Perhaps, you’ve read or heard of a New York Times story about a young girl tossed off the Tennessee cheerleading squad and forced out of the University. All because as a 15yr. Old, she posted a three-second video waving a paper and saying, “I got my learners permit N-word.” Years later, when she entered the University, a former classmate posted the clip all over the internet. The bi-racial young man said he did it “to teach her a lesson.”

Using racial or ethnic epithets are cruel and inflicts pain. I don’t find Jews being called “Slavers” by Louis Farrakhan exchanging pleasantries. This kind of thing has no place in a civilized society. Good manners avoid hurt feelings. But does it apply in this situation?

The high-school freshman posting the video wasn’t using the F-word out of meanness or cruelty. She was using it in a happy announcement of her learner’s permit. Where did she ever get the idea the F-word was in any way upbeat?

It may come as a surprise to some that white kids are big consumers of Rap music. Rap musicians wouldn’t be making near as much if they only appealed to minorities. A lot of white kids think Rap is with it, maybe a little subversive. Rap is all about the words, and the F-word is prominent in the music. If you think rap is cool, it’s because you believe the lyrics are cool.  

Can you think of any music where you could have your life destroyed simply by uttering some of its lyrics? Maybe in a totalitarian state, an anti-government song could get you in trouble, but a single word?

The songwriter suffers no grief for using the lyric, but you a forbidden its use if you’re of a certain race. You may have bought the music, but you can’t sing the song if you’re white. Severely punishing a white person for using a word a black uttering the same word suffers nothing is the very definition of the discrimination-The act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually (Merriam -Webster) 

This prohibition would be like buying a meal at a soul food restaurant and being told you’re not to eat some of it if you’re white.  Chitterlings are toxic to whites. Of course, this never happens. If something is harmful, it’s poisonous no matter your color. 

How does a rap lyric endlessly repeated on the radio or online with no consequence to the singer become deadly if duplicated by a white listener? A toxic song is toxic for everyone. If something is painful for you to hear, then it is poisonous for you to sing. If you ban a word, ban for everyone. In the alternative, you might ask, like the late George Carlin, “why are you banning words?” Catch his song on YouTube.

In any case, how can you have free speech when the words you use are restricted? If you can ban certain words, why not others? Think of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution without the word”right(s).” Try talking or writing of Rights in Cuba, Venezuela, or China. Words make a difference.  

A young lady lost her dream over uttering a word heard daily on the radio or internet, simply because of her color. The motivation of the vengeful young man isn’t fully known. “Teaching her a lesson” brings up more questions than it answers. He’s a young kid, but she was even younger when she made the little video. We’ve all done dumb stuff when we were young. Can’t we cut a little slack? 

Run by adults, the involved institutions, the University, and the New York Times need to be held accountable. Mature people look for the context. What was the motivation? In the context of her video, it is clear the young lady wasn’t motivated to harm anyone. All the reasons for the young man’s actions aren’t known, but obviously, he was out to hurt her. These lofty institutions claim high standards. Sad that they failed to live up to them. As it stands, they have altered two young people’s lives, not in the right way—excellent work, University of Tennessee and New York Times.

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