The n-word

I understand Omarosa, a con woman, playing around with an allegation that Donald Trump used the n-word and she has a recording to prove it. It keeps her in the limelight and sells books. But I have no idea how Trump used it which, heaven help me, seems relevant even when the user is Donald Trump.

I couldn’t recall any account of how “Papa John” of pizza fame used it, so I Googled it and found this report, in which the journalist won’t spell out the word (but which reveals a use for which firing, return of millions of dollars of charitable donations, and erasure of the donor’s name from endowed buildings seems a bit hysterical — but admittedly the broader context of the narrower context is missing).

A black sociologist argues that “the n-word” is more toxic than “honky,” but he won’t spell out “the n-word” as he discusses it (and the legitimate reasons why sauce for the goose isn’t sauce for the gander when it comes to hateful language hurled across racial lines).

I “get it” that it is uniquely toxic as an epithet directed at another human being, especially when a pale (or orange) person hurls it at a dark person, in person or even in absentia. (Heck, it’s even worse than “dog“!)

But not all uses are epithets. Some people use it as a negative example, to criticize it and forbid its use as epithet. It seems to me that journalists could legitimately use it in the context of reporting on a controversy over its use as an epithet.

Should a law ever be written to criminalize it, describing it as “the n-word” would be, I think, an independent, void-for-vagueness constitutional infirmity.

But no. Not done. Can’t go there. Can’t go anywhere.

I’m half expecting some playwright or novelist to go coy on us in dialog.

It’s as if the very mention of it, howsoever legitimate and non-epithetic, threatens (social) death.

I may be a little bit Aspie, but I just don’t get it.

If it’s just a crazy fad, I have a suggestion for a much more sensible fad. The metaphorical use of “impact” and its derivatives as verbs by any journalist or other professional shall result in immediate termination for malpractice and, where applicable, license revocation. “Impactful” shall be a capital offense.

One may, however, use those words in drafting appropriate legislation or advocating its passage.

UPDATE: I deleted a rambling introduction, venting about something happening to a friend of mine that, in cool light of day, looked terribly out of place.

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Our lives were meant to be written in code, indecipherable to onlookers except through the cipher of Jesus.

Greg Coles.

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One thought on “The n-word

  1. What is one to make of this usage: ” Dear Momma — Wherever you are, if ever you hear the word “nigger” again, remember they are advertising my book.” by Dick Gregory in his 1964 autobiography by that title?

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