Who Exactly Is Allowed to Use the N-Word? Chris Rock? Dr. Laura?
Cultist recently asked veteran comic Paul Mooney about what he thinks about the dreaded n-word. A few days later, Dr. Laura used it on her radio show, citing that black comics use it all the time. Today, it was announced that Dr. Laura is losing her show over her n-word bombs. Our writer Marques Brantley sounds off below.
Not to belittle the feelings of those who were genuinely offended by Dr. Laura Schlessinger's on-air Michael Richards moment, but there's a whole lot of funny in this situation. Let's have a laugh, shall we?
The hilarity begins in the reasoning she tries to apply right before she begins her carpet n-bombing. When the caller asks about her white husband using the n-word, Dr. Laura responds with this gem: "Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n*gger, n*gger, n*gger."
Ah yes, the old "I heard it on TV!" excuse. In the pantheon of lame defenses, that ranks right up there with "I was drunk" and pretty much any given year of Detroit Lions football. Also, feast your eyes on the only time anyone will attempt to justify anything by saying "Black guys do it all the time."
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Schlessinger continues: "I don't get it. If anybody without enough
melanin says it, it's a horrible thing, but when black people say it,
it's affectionate. It's very confusing." You know, for someone so
well-versed in the habits of black HBO comedians, she sure seems to not
recall Chris Rock's "Bring the Pain." There wasn't a lot of affection
In the below clip, the n-word is mentioned about a million times, so click play at your own risk.
Now, I can't assume that everyone out there knows proper protocol when
it comes to not being stupid. So perhaps she - like a lot of folks out
there - is legitimately confused by matters of race. For the uninformed
(read: ignorant), the unspoken rule on throwing out the n-bomb is this:
Use it at your own peril. Every time you speak the word is a like roll
of the dice, except snake eyes means you might get punched in the face.
With that in mind, it's perhaps best to exercise discretion, and also
remember that actions have consequences. Just because you're comfortable
saying it doesn't mean everyone else is comfortable hearing it. And
your own level of comfort with using the word is irrelevant when there's
a fist closing in on your face with celerity.
Given that information, it's not surprising Dr. Laura unleashed her
tirade over radio airwaves. Angry phone calls, e-mails, and articles
hurt way less than a left hook. Had this been a face-to-face encounter
with that woman, Dr. Laura probably would have chosen her words more
Schlessinger went on to issue several apologies for her epic gaffe,
stating that she was trying to make a philosophical point in using the
word. This is a bit like using a katana for brain surgery, but at least
her heart was in the right place.
In response to the media backlash, Dr. Laura issued this statement via a
blog post on her site: "When I first started out in radio, people disagreed.... they didn't
hate and they didn't try to censor or destroy an opposing point of view.
Instead... they argued and debated."
Fair point, but we're not talking about censoring a differing point of
view here. This is more a matter of decorum and respect. Aside from
Schlessinger's total derision of a caller seeking help, she insinuated
that anyone not approving of the use of the n-word lacks a sense of
humor. More than anything else, Schlessinger's actions showed a lack of
Fact is, tossing out the n-word like Halloween candy is unacceptable for
the same reason "B*tches Ain't Sh*t" isn't a love ballad. It's
inappropriate no matter who you are, where you hail from, or how much
melanin your skin contains. You are entitled to have your views on the
word, but there isn't one context in which the word is acceptable to
Unless you're a black HBO comedian. Then you can go buck wild.
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