In an airing of the football movie All the Right Moves with Tom Cruise, the executives at the FX network made an editing decision which was not very surprising. In the original R rated version of the film, football coach Craig T. Nelson makes a pre-game motivational speech to his team where he refers to himself and his players in saying, “We’re the Dagos, we’re the Polacks, we’re the Niggers.” In the edited version it became, “We’re the Dagos, we’re the Polacks, we’re the beep.” This omission of the n-word only, was sadly an editing decision which all too often reflects every day society.
It would be very easy to trumpet the double standard and hypocrisy in this example from the movie with regard to all the slurs in question being racial slurs. That’s very tempting and the racists at the FX network should be especially ashamed in this case, but I find all naughty words and name calling to be just that; naughty words and name calling.
If you’re clever enough, there are a countless number of ways to degrade, insult or offend just about anyone. Who is anyone to quantify the level of degradation from one insult or another? Can we really decide on everyone else’s behalf how much hurt or insult or pain they are entitled to claim when victimized by one naughty word as opposed to another? Who’s to say the n-word is more universally hurtful than even fatso or baldy or dumb-dumb. What if the person being called a dumb-dumb actually is a little slow. Maybe they road the short bus to school and were in romper room classes with no more than five students. As such, maybe they faced constant ridicule and bullying in the form of incessantly being called a dumb-dumb. Does that person ever count as much as a black person? Can their feelings ever be hurt as much as a black person’s feelings? Are they forever denied the same level of sensitivity just because of their skin color? That is point blank racist to every non-black person on the planet!
Every naughty name has a meaning. Every naughty word has a reason why it’s mean. Every naughty word has a semantic origin and a history of usage. How are parents or grade school teachers supposed to sell the blatant double standard about the n-word to our impressionable young children? If we’re going to quantify name calling for them they may have the insight to ask if ‘double jerk’ is twice as bad as just ‘jerk’ or if ‘silly willy’is worse than just ‘silly’?
I’m not seeking to use the n-word. I’m not looking to encourage others to do so. In doing so, the response to that bit of name calling may very well be some form of physical, criminal, lawless violence. I’m merely suggesting equal sensitivity to everyone no matter what that level of sensitivity may be. Clearly we are a long way from that. Even in this post I have perpetrated that which I am contesting by writing out words like ‘dumb-dumb’ yet oh so gingerly tiptoeing around the dreaded ‘n-word’. I’m just a gutless chump for bending over and pretending that I too find that word to be more mean than other insults. I guess that’s better than being one of the racist pigs who actually find that to be true.
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