Free speech for me and not for thee

Apparently only colored people, blacks, Afro-Americans, African-Americans, people of color are permitted to use the word “nigger”. Because everyone is equal, you know?

Burlington, who is white, was fired after using the “n” word during a June 2007 staff meeting at which reporters and producers were discussing reporter Robin Taylor’s story about the symbolic burial of the word by the Philadelphia Youth Council of the NAACP.

Burlington, who began work at the station in 2004 and is now working as a real estate agent, was suspended within days and fired after an account of the incident was published in the Philadelphia Daily News. He alleges that he “was discriminated against because of his race,” according to court documents. He claims in his lawsuit that at least two African American employees at Fox29 had used the word in the workplace and were not disciplined.

The dispute began after Taylor, who is white, used the phrase the “n” word during the 2007 staff meeting. She said participants at the burial had said the full word “at least a hundred times or more,” according to court records.

“Does this mean we can finally say the word n-?” Burlington asked colleagues, according to depositions. Nicole Wolfe, a producer and one of the three African American employees among the nine people at the meeting, exclaimed: “I can’t believe you just said that!”

The speech police are in judicial favor, so it will be interesting what emanations and penumbras will be required in order to justify certain words being legal for some people and illegal for others. But I particularly enjoyed the way in which this “news” article wraps itself into contortions in order to avoid reporting the actual news. Panicked avoidance of the word nigger is particularly amusing when seen from a European perspective, where white people use the word without thinking about it because they see and hear black Americans in the entertainment world using it on a regular basis.

Burlington’s big mistake was not appealing to the one-drop rule, thus granting him permission to use the noun of his choice in reference to his people. The funny thing is that so few people realize that this sort of speech-controlling behavior is an indication of weakness, not strength. Anytime someone tries to pull the “I can’t believe you just said that” card for whatever reason, the optimal response is to immediately crush them. It’s just a test; clearly Burlington failed his.

I always find it amusing when people get upset over a clearly understood label, whether it is flattering or not. If you’re getting upset because someone calls you by a label that describes what you are, then you quite clearly regard yourself as inferior. And if you think someone else regards you as an inferior, you should probably be at least open to the possibility they are doing so because you are.

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