(Editor's note: Back when Tom Pfeifer was required to read five-plus newspapers a day for his day job, for amusement he compiled news reports from which he could thread a theme and emailed his Initial Thoughts to family and friends. While he works on other projects, he is regurgitating some of them here. We hope you enjoy.)
© 2007 Tom Pfeifer
Current as of March 3, 2007
Whitey boy Mic Kraut here. Here to discuss
the words that shouldn’t be spoken in
polite society, or any society, if some have
It started in New York, of all places, a city
not generally known for its sensitivity
toward others. Yet it was here that City
Councilman Leroy G. Comrie Jr. grew tired
of hearing the N-word uttered with love
among young African-Americans on the
street. (Isn’t it great how I can write
“N-word” and you know what it means but
it becomes non-offensive that way?)
But as Comrie connotes and denotes it, the
N-word has no love. What to do?
Pass a law!
Comrie and his colleagues would have, but the Constitution, which originally set African-Americans as three-fifths of a person, won’t let Comrie stifle the N-word either. Nope, the First Amendment trumps people’s sensitivities, even New York sensitivities. So the New York City Council passed a non-binding resolution instead—much like congressional Democrats—or is that Democratics?—did to combat that dirty little war in Iraq.
As these things generally happen, New York’s resolution was a success in spite of itself. Local governments in at least four other states took the banner and raised it high. Take that, Michael Richards. Oh, wait. The resolutions weren’t targeted at Richards. He’s a white boy so he isn’t allowed to use the term anyway. Even Mic Kraut here is smart enough to know that.
Ted Eng apparently isn’t smart enough. While his fellow New Yorkers were debating the N-word, Eng was proudly pounding out a column for AsianWeek, a San Francisco weekly. His topic and title? “Why I Hate Blacks.” They hated him back and Eng was canned because his editors didn’t count on the backlash they were sure to encounter for running Eng’s diatribe.
Not to be outdone, Florida State Sen. Frederica Wilson introduced a bill to ban the term “illegal alien” from official state documents. “To me an alien is somebody who is from another planet,” Wilson told a McClatchy Newspapers reporter. She would prefer the term “undocumented citizen,” (which is an obvious oxymoron from one who may actually know one), or the more accurate “undocumented immigrant.”
Wilson has a point. We wouldn’t want to confuse illegal humans with illegal aliens from another planet, the ones former Canadian Defence Minister Paul Hellyer says have the technology—already passed onto the United States—to save Planet Earth from global warming. Illegal humans can’t solve global warming. Illegal humans don’t have the documentation.
Meanwhile, back on the left coast, a former high school freshman has filed a lawsuit because she was punished for retorting: “That’s so gay.” Her retort came when classmates, teasing her about being Mormon, asked if she had, like, 10 moms. The Mormon-cracking students weren’t punished. Note to Mitt Romney, the only Republican presidential front-runner who’s had but one wife, Mormon-bashing is apparently acceptable abuse.
Then there’s the California assemblywoman who wants to make it illegal to issue slurs against vegetables. Apparently, that’s already a law in at least a dozen other states, making it possibly the first time California has trailed in what the Los Angeles Times noted was “laughable” legislation. Where’s Frank Zappa when you need him?
"Standing there shiny and proud by your side
"Holding your hand while the neighbors decide
"Why is a vegetable something to hide?"
The point to all this, obviously, is to caution you to choose your words carefully, because words have meaning. Except when they don’t, or the meaning is not clear. Take the bald eagle. The federal government is having trouble taking the bald eagle off the endangered species list, not because there aren’t zillions of them dropping poop on car windshields, but because the feds can’t define the term “disturbed.”
Mic Kraut here, sending a note to the feds: See above.
Editorial. “Free speech: more important than eating your spinach.” Los Angeles Times. 27 February 2007. http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-ed-veggies27feb27,1,979920.story?coll=la-news-a_section
Fahrenthold, David. Washington Post Staff Writer. “Eagles’ Big Moment, Diverted by a Definition.” Washington Post. 26 February 2007. Page B01. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/25/AR2007022501519.html
Fulbright, Leslie. Chronicle Staff Writer. “’Hate Blacks’ writer dismissed by AsianWeek.” San Francisco Chronicle. 1 March 2007. Page B-1. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/01/BAGO7ODAA91.DTL
Lackner, Chris. “Alien technology the best hope to ‘save our planet:’ ex-defence boss.” Ottawa Citizen. 28 February 2007. http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story
Leff, Lisa. Associated Press. “Lawsuit considers if ‘that's so gay’ is anti-gay put-down.” Los Angeles Daily News. 28 February 2007. http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_5327373
O’Connor, Anahad. “In Bid to Ban Racial Slur, Blacks Are on Both Sides.” New York Times. 25 February 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/25/nyregion/25nword.html
Pineiro, Yudy. McClatchy Newspapers. “Bill would ban ‘illegal aliens’ in documents.” Bradenton Herald. 1 March 2007. http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/local/16805229.htm
Zappa, Frank. Frank Zappa - Call Any Vegetable Lyrics. 30 Sept. 2015, https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Frank-Zappa/Call-Any-Vegetable
(Editor's note: No one should go hungry during these trying times. If you have the means, please donate to your local food bank. Even a dollar goes a long way. Simply search "food banks near me" to find one. If you're in need, please contact them for help.)
Tom Pfeifer is president and CEO of Consistent Voice Communications and author of Write It, Speak It: Writing a Speech They’ll APPLAUD! Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.
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