Racial slurs acceptable only in certain cases
April 27, 2007
In light of the "Imus scandal," Time Magazine recently ran a spread that asked the question, "Who Can Say What?" When are racial slurs acceptable to use? The article points out that many comedians use far more heinous epithets and people laugh, so why is Imus in such hot water? Time failed to answer their own question, so I will, in "Kris Evans' Guide to Using Racial Slurs."
The basic principle you need to follow is that the more persecuted the race, the greater liberty to offend everybody else. So, if you are of a certain ethnicity, you can use any epithet specific to your race, and as a really sweet bonus, epithets for all races that are less aggrieved.
Let's start with Jews. They are the most persecuted race in history. Pharaoh had it out for them, and then Hitler. If someone uses the "K" word, everybody knows to look down on the offender because everybody who isn't Iranian knows the horrors the Jews have faced. Plus, we did drop them into the viper pit that is the Middle East. So they control the World Bank and Hollywood; a small piece of the pie for a 5,000-year-old scapegoat. It's because of their perseverance that we can listen to Lenny Bruce, Sarah Silverman and Sacha Baron Cohen and just laugh hysterically at all their racially charged and in-no-way-offensive humor.
Next are African Americans. The "N" word is the most used and abused racial slur in this country. In everyday life, it is offensive, but on TV it is used with hilarious results, or just so a rapper can find a rhyme for "bigger." It represents the hundreds of years of oppression and violence perpetrated against black people in the United States, so naturally the only people who should be able to use this word are black people; people who will use it as the symbol that it is to assure racism will never be as prominent in the United States again.
Even less able to use epithets are Hispanics. Whereas African Americans and Jews have a long and violent history of being oppressed, Hispanic persecution is a relatively recent fad. They're the hot topic of discussion. Hispanics are like the Irish of 2007, mildly discriminated against, but doing pretty well. There are famous Hispanics leading in almost all forms of entertainment; our attorney general, though a douche bag, is Hispanic and all signs in the southwest are printed in Spanish. Not bad. So, it shouldn't be demeaning at all when Carlos Mencia screams the words "wetback" and "beaner" a hundred times a week. According to the hierarchy of persecution, he can really only ridicule Hispanics and white folks, and he has to make a joke at somebody's expense.
And, all the white jokes are totally acceptable. We don't mind. They're funny because they're true. Finally, there are the white folks, crackers, gringos, honkies, hicks and all other varieties of vanilla faces. We have no right to say anything derogatory about anybody except for rednecks. And we do, at great length, and it's not funny anymore. We don't have a right because we have it so good. We're all rich, uptight, unhip, generally condescending and have small penises. Now that is funny! Maybe I just need to work on my delivery.
The point is, Imus, the next time you to want make a sideways comment about a group of people, stick to what you know: the rich, haggard, old cowboys. Leave the derision, making fun of people for something they can't control and mainstreaming of hate speech to the proper people: everybody else.
Kris Evans is a student at UW-River Falls.