Friday, 16 November 2012

The dumb white boy's guide to banned words.

Footballer John Terry apparently called Anton Ferdinand a series of naughty names during a match last year. I haven't really been paying much attention to the story, though I was aware there was some racial component to it.

Last night I happened to catch what Terry had actually said. Ferdinand had apparently made fun of him for being cuckolded by a team-mate. Terry responded with a string of expletives (which seems reasonable enough). Oh, but then there's that racial component.

I had imagined Terry had gone on some racist meltdown like Michael Richards when he got heckled by a black audience member. But actually, the only racial reference Terry made was to call Ferdinand a "black cunt."

That surely must be the racial component, because nothing else that Terry said has anything to do with race (he also called Ferdinand a "fucking knobhead," and told him to "fuck off").

Only, I'm a little confused. You see, Ferdinand is actually black. This is a matter of fact. So, calling him black is just a statement of truth, and is not illegal.

Calling someone a cunt is, of course, very offensive, but it's a matter of opinion, and Ferdinand had just made fun of Terry for being cuckolded. I can understand why a man would use vulgar language against someone in that situation. But even if you think someone is a cunt, and call them a cunt, that's offensive, but not illegal.

So, to recap, calling a black person black is not illegal; and calling someone a cunt is offensive but also not illegal.

It seems that only when these two words are put together, then it becomes an offence against the law. If Terry had simply called Ferdinand a "cunt," or had he used any other adjective, even one that was less truthful (e.g. calling Ferdinand a "white cunt"), then he probably wouldn't have been charged.

If you were to call Ferdinand a black man, or a black footballer, or a black hero, then you also wouldn't be charged, and I don't think he would dispute you either. So it's okay to say that someone is black in the context of a positive opinion about them, but not in the context of a negative opinion about them. That's when it becomes racist.

This might seem obvious to some people but for po' dum white folks like me it's actually pretty hard to keep track of what is and isn't racist any more. For instance, the N-word is obviously offensive (when spoken by white people). But some other words aren't allowed to be used by white people either, and sometimes we don't know that until it's too late.

Several white people have got into trouble and even lost their jobs for using the word "niggardly," which means stingy or miserly and has no etymological association with the N-word. It just sort of sounds similar, and so sometimes people get offended by it, and then white heads have to roll.

And this one time, a white woman made the mistake of using the phrase "jungle drums," which is a colloquialism meaning unsubstantiated rumors or gossip. This was deemed offensive to black people, and the white woman who used the phrase got in a lot of trouble for it.

So we have to watch out not only for the N-word, but also for the other N-word, the J-word, and the B-word, if we are going to use it in proximity to the otherwise non-racist C-word.

This can be confusing for a lot of whites, so I think what we need is some new administrative body - perhaps called the Office for Racial Harmony - which can keep track of all banned words (for whites) in a centralized database, updating it with new banned words every year.

Or we could just keep on banning words (for whites) through precedent and innovative lawsuits, so that civil rights activists can keep on persecuting white people who accidentally use words they didn't know were racist.

What do you guys think? I don't know what the best solution is. I'm just a white man, so I can't ever hope to comprehend the plight of oppressed peoples different from me. Therefore, I just have to take it for granted that they're right when they ban me from saying or thinking certain things.

This makes sense because I am the white oppressor and non-whites are the oppressed. Even though non-whites are apparently powerful enough to destroy me if I use certain words, and I have no defence against this. Or something like that.

- Mojo

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