You Can’t Ban A Word

The Michael Richards nonsense continues and I’ve just about had enough.  Richards recently appeared on Rev. Jesse Jackson’s radio show to once again apologize for making what looks like the biggest professional mistake of his life.  To review, during a show at The Laugh Factory in California, Richards was being heckled by some black folks in the audience.  He got so fed up with them he made racist remarks in order to shut them up.  As we all know, thanks to that amazing cell phone footage, it didn’t quite work out for him.  The hecklers rightfully felt Richards went over the line and then one of them called him “a cracker-ass”.  Classy.  Despite making two apologies on the public airwaves, one on David Letterman’s show and the other on Jackson’s radio program, Richards is still very much in the public doghouse.  His hecklers are right to ask for a personal, face-to-face apology and even demand a refund, as I noted in a previous posting, but they do not deserve anything else. 
Meanwhile, there’s a new twist to the story.  Rev. Jackson has now pretty much pushed Richards to the background while he demands attention for all the wrong reasons.  According to Fox News, Jackson has developed a boycott fetish.  He wants people to stop using the word “nigger” (as does the NAACP) and to not purchase the Season 7 DVD of Seinfeld.  It’s hard to fathom the logic of this.
First of all, to demand people not use a word like that ever again is like telling them never to curse, never to drink, never to push that shiny red button that is forever tantalizing them or to never draw a breath from their lungs.  It’s just not realistic.  Besides, the word “nigger” or “nigga”, if you will, is so ingrained in our culture and history, it would be virtually impossible to stop saying it today, regardless of the context.
It’s bad enough broadcasters refer to this epithet as “The N-Word” which, sadly, gives it a cachet it doesn’t deserve.  It’s also a childish way of dealing with racism.  Racist words like “nigger” shouldn’t be forgotten nor should their pungent tone be sanitized by using safe, useless phrases like “The N-Word”.  We’re not children here.  We’re adults.  When a foolish comedian says “nigger” over and over again in his stand-up act, it should be reported that he said “nigger”, not “The N-Word”.  When you say he said “The N-Word”, that’s not accurate.  He said “nigger”.  If we’re going to deal with racism head-on without any fear, we have to stop referring to this nasty word as something other than what it actually is.  “The N-Word” sounds mysterious.  “Nigger” sounds horrible.  Note the difference.
A few years ago, there was a controversial book called Nigger and it was all about the history of the word.  (I have long wanted to read it and hope to do so in the future.)  How come Rev. Jackson didn’t call for a boycott then? 
How many rappers over the last 20 years have used the word “nigger” or “nigga” in a song?  I think we’ve all lost count by now.  Anybody remember Rev. Jackson or The NAACP planning to boycott rap albums at any time during the genre’s history?  (The NAACP is hoping comedians and rappers stop using the word today.  Good luck with that, guys.)
And what about films like Boyz N The Hood?  Remember that scene where the black cop says, “One less nigger in the streets”?  Did Rev. Jackson voice his concerns about that?  Did he want people to skip the movie?
How come Jackson hasn’t boycotted any of Spike Lee’s movies or any other film that has showcased that word?  This word has been around for so long why is now the time to stop using it? 
As for the boycott of the Seinfeld DVD, that’s even more ridiculous and astoundingly racist.  What did the people associated with that show have to do with Michael Richards’ stupidity?  Why should they be punished for one man’s sins?  It’s absolutely infuriating and extraordinarily insulting.  And how come it’s only Season 7 that’s the subject of a boycott?  What about Seasons 1-6?  Can we buy those box sets, Rev. Jackson?  Does that meet with your approval?  Or as George Costanza would say, “Is it doable?”  
I think it’s time for everybody to calm down and take a deep breath.  Knowing that Michael Richards is an asshole shouldn’t ruin your enjoyment of his great work on a great sitcom.  There’s something wrong with you if you think Cosmo Kramer and Michael Richards are the same person.  He’s playing a character and that character we enjoy watching.  The real guy is a mess and no one wants anything to do with him.  Why does an actor have to be a saint in order for you to enjoy his acting?  Get over yourself.
Boycotting a word is silly and not realistic.  It is a counterproductive way to tackle racism.  Telling people to not buy a DVD of a show they love is even more ridiculous and should be promptly ignored.  What we need is for Michael Richards to apologize sincerely to those hecklers in person.  We need the hecklers to accept that apology and, in turn, apologize for calling Richards “a cracker-ass”.  We need Richards to accept their apology.  Then, we need the hecklers to go back to their normal lives out of the limelight.  We need Richards to disappear for a while.  We need Rev. Jackson to stop exploiting the situation for his own gain and go back to being ignored again.  And we need everybody else to move on and focus on more important matters. 
I want this story to die already.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
11:16 p.m.
Published in: on November 28, 2006 at 11:20 pm  Comments (2)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Old post, but I agree. And maybe Rev. Michael Jackson.. oh sorry..

    • I thank you for your first comment but have no idea what you mean by your second. I hope you’re not insinuating what I think you’re insinuating. If you are, it’s dastardly and I don’t approve.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: