It's either offensive or it's not!

Michael Richards was caught with his pants down the other day in "Laugh factory". He went on a racial tirade after being heckled on stage, using the "N" word and following it up with a series of racial slurs in a comedy club packed with African Americans. The video is rather disturbing because what you see is a man completely out of control spewing venom and it’s almost like he is not even there. This from a man who had to be one of the most loved comedians in the 90s.

I have always found the "N" word extremely offensive. Maybe it’s the association that is made with the use of the word. I have had arguments with people about this and they have always wondered why I get worked up about it. But I truly believe that if a community thinks that a word is offensive to them, then it doesn’t matter what you think about it, it is offensive! After all we communicate and talk for the benefit of the listener and not to hear ourselves talk. Right? It is true with any group of people who find certain terms derogatory. The "N" word is no exception.

But here is what gets me. Paul Rodriguez, the Laugh factory manager says: If the word slips out of your mouth and you don’t happen to be an African American...... What? How does that matter? Why doesn’t the African American community show the same sense of outrage when rappers and singers from the same community call them these names. Why is it any less humiliating?

The usual defense is that it is not said with malaise. But how does that matter? Every time this word is freely used the society gets more and more comfortable with its usage. I am sure a lot of non-African Americans might have used it not intending it as a racial slur either but rather to sound cool like the rappers did. But the fact that they are not African American should not be reason enough to chastise them.

Yes Michael Richards was way out of line. Apart from using the word he was on a rant which is sickening. But if what Paul Rodriguez said is right then we are on the wrong track. Society cannot have different rules for different people. The term is either offensive or it's not. It is either okay to use it in public discourse or it is not. Let’s not change the rules based on the kind of people who use it. That just confuses a whole lot of people and dilutes the seriousness of the matter.


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