Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

Banning Words: Racism or Culture?

January 5th, 2011

The attempt to censor and re-write Mark Twain’s classics Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn so as to eliminate the word “Nigger” from Twain’s “Nigger Jim” and the word “Injun” from “Injun Joe” is a literary and cultural travesty. To somehow deny that this language was common usage at the time of Tom and Huck’s adventures is to lose the valuable context of the stories. In the political correctness world the first thing one must abolish is any sense of humor. Secondly, PC must ban all tolerance, including that necessary to realistically understand history. Lock-step, group-think, mob-conscience and group-victim-hood are the rule. Censorship is the result.

If the term “Nigger” is offensive to a culture, perhaps we should be equally upset about the type of “culture” exemplified by the video below:

From a historical standpoint the word Nigger derives from Latin for the color black, and Nigeria, or Nigerian, the regions of Africa from which slaves were captured for export to the U.S. (See Nigerian Village Square for a very thoughtful discussion of this subject by Michael Femi: “Banning the N-word not a Solution” The use of the word as an epithet to describe a race or a culture can only get its bite from the perceived pain of those against whom it is hurled. If the word, itself, were the cause of the hurt, then the usage illustrated in the video, above, would certainly be equally condemned. It is not. Why that is so can be explained by the contention that it is part of the urban African-American “culture.” Within the culture it apparently refers to behavior and attitude, not to race. So it is safe for black performers to call each other niggers, whereas the same reference by a white person is oddly condemned as “racist.”

My own private conclusion about this subject is that too much of what the PC crowd calls racist is actually a cultural judgment, not a racial one. There are people who behave in a way we disapprove of. We are entitled to criticize and shun them for their behavior. We don’t invite them to dine with us. Others we admire and want to socialize with. These judgments are cultural, not racial, and they split both racial and cultural communities equally. In a free society they are justified. Banning words does nothing to change these judgments.

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