When I heard that Dr. Laura Schlessinger had said the "N" word on air, I wanted to write about it. I figured I should listen to the clip first. I expected to get all morally outraged and stuff, but instead, I cried.
I kind of understand people with peach skin who don't understand why that's not an OK word for peach people to say. I understand the motives of people with peach skin who will say the word in some contexts because they want to divest the word of its power (although I don't generally agree with their decision to do so). But her rant (for which she's really, really sorry, by the way) is almost heartbreaking. Heartbreaking that someone can be so callous and cruel, and heartbreaking that the cable news is abuzz with people defending her verbal sadism.
I'm going to site a billion reasons why Dr. Laura and anyone who defends her are idiots in a minute. But before I get there, I just want to point out that regardless of whether these black comedians all over HBO that Schlessinger refers to (I don't get HBO, so I'll have to assume it's an all-"N" word all the time station or something) should or shouldn't say the word, people who turn on the radio - brown people and people who aren't brown - don't deserve to hear themselves or their ideals attacked so viciously when they haven't done anything to deserve it. It's one thing to make the argument "white people should be allowed to say the 'N' word." It's another thing to just start lashing out, regardless of who might be listening and might be hurt, to prove this point.
Here's why individuals with peach-colored skin need to keep their freaking mouths shut when it comes to that one word:
- Are you four freaking years old? "The kid down the street gets to stay out past ten. Why can't I?? Black comedians on HBO get to say horrible, cruel, vile words, why can't I??" Boo freaking hoo. Grow up.
- What is it about this word that makes you so eager to say it? I mean, do you sit at home thinking "Oh, god why, oh why? My life would be so much better if I could just say N..."? There's no reason you need to use the word, dude. Not being able to say it isn't hurting you, it's not oppressing you, it's not even inconveniencing you (unless, maybe, you're narrating a Huck Finn audio book, in which case, you could probably get dispensation). So don't say it.
- The fact that some people on TV do it doesn't mean everyone else should do it. You know that scene in Reservoir Dogs where Michael Madsen cuts off the cop's ear? You shouldn't do that either.
- Dr. Laura demanded of the caller "Oh, you mean you don't watch BET?" Uh... ignoring the idiotically racist assumption that all people with brown skin watch BET for a minute... how often, exactly does BET use the "N" word? I've been watching BET the whole time I've been writing this post. Haven't heard the "N" word once. I did see an awesome Kung Fu action scene though. Maybe, since BET shows people doing Kung Fu, it should be okay to spend all day roundhouse-kicking black people too.
- Just because some people with brown skin are okay with saying it don't mean that all people with brown skin are okay with hearing it. Saying "Black people say it, so white people should be allowed to say it," is like saying "Some black people have sex consensually, so that means it's okay to rape black people."
- Context. Seriously. Schlessinger said it, and meant it, in a cruel, attacking way. She didn't say it in a "let's take away the word's power" way. She meant to hurt people with brown skin. She meant to deeply wound the caller.
- Don't say words that hurt. Kindergarteners know that.
- When you kick your sister, it's roughhousing. If I kicked your sister, it would be assault. If you can't see the line between playful and hurtful, don't go near it.