Canadian Politics Today

Beyond Politics => General Discussion => Topic started by: JMT on June 14, 2017, 09:22:43 am


Title: The N Word
Post by: JMT on June 14, 2017, 09:22:43 am
You and I have had this discussion before.  I don't believe in swearing in conversation.  I do believe in the value of artistic and real expression.  Swearing is part of language and culture.  Words are, IMO, only as powerful as what you make them.  That's why I really don't understand the whole controversy over Bill Maher and the use of the N word.
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: BC_cheque on June 15, 2017, 11:49:56 am
You and I have had this discussion before.  I don't believe in swearing in conversation.  I do believe in the value of artistic and real expression.  Swearing is part of language and culture.  Words are, IMO, only as powerful as what you make them.  That's why I really don't understand the whole controversy over Bill Maher and the use of the N word.

Two things.  First, the N-word is not the same thing as swearing.  It is a highly charged word in the historical context and cannot be compared to someone who is just too sensitive to hear the words **** and ****.  And I really don't think anyone who is not black has a right to say whether or not blacks are too sensitive about the issue.

Second, I sort of understand banning swear words, but this forum has blocked me using the words **** and ****.  These are both G-rated and have a place in everyday discourse.  They should not be disallowed.
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: cybercoma on June 21, 2017, 02:30:40 pm
You and I have had this discussion before.  I don't believe in swearing in conversation.
Swearing? No, sir. I don't **** believe in it.
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: cybercoma on June 21, 2017, 02:31:43 pm
I really don't understand the whole controversy over Bill Maher and the use of the N word.
Uh, you really don't understand why there's a problem with white people using the "N" word?
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: JMT on June 21, 2017, 09:18:50 pm
Uh, you really don't understand why there's a problem with white people using the "N" word?

I understand why people see it as a problem.  In reality, the word only has as much power as we give it.
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: kimmy on June 21, 2017, 10:45:09 pm
I think the word "****" should only be used when prefaced by the phrase "**** yo' couch!"

 -k
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: kimmy on June 21, 2017, 10:47:25 pm
And even then, only by Dave Chappelle.

 -k
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: kimmy on June 21, 2017, 10:49:16 pm
Chris Rock had a classic bit where he called for "a race war between black-people and niggers", but I believe he retired that one because it turned into just an excuse for white rednecks to complain about "niggers".

 -k
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: cybercoma on June 23, 2017, 10:26:29 am
I understand why people see it as a problem.  In reality, the word only has as much power as we give it.
No. That's not the reality. The reality is that it was shouted at people for the colour of their skin, before they were tied to truck bumpers and dragged to death, doused in gasoline and burned alive, or beaten and hung from trees. The historical context of the word is very important and your argument here is an incredibly dismissive, "black people LET it bother them," as if there's actually any justifiable reason why it shouldn't.
Title: Re: Re: Host Censorship
Post by: JMT on June 23, 2017, 01:48:41 pm
They continue to give it power by letting it bother them.  The rest of us do the same.  Words have no more power than we give them.  I have to be moderator like and insist we move this though.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: cybercoma on June 23, 2017, 04:54:41 pm
I don't think you quite grasp what you're implying when you say they let it bother them.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: BC_cheque on June 23, 2017, 05:24:57 pm
Yeah, classic, 'don't be so sensitive' abuser excuse.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: JMT on June 23, 2017, 06:34:56 pm
Words are not things - they can't hurt you unless you give them that power.  Yes, the word has been used with terrible intent and in the name of terrible deeds.  It doesn't make it any more than a word.  It's not something you're going to change my mind on.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: JMT on June 23, 2017, 06:38:27 pm
This makes my point far better than I can:

In some sense words really are magic spells. Say the right syllables and you assume tremendous power. But that too is an illusion, because the words themselves don't actually make you stronger.

There's real power in the world, there is real racism and sexism and oppression. People have suffered from these abuses.

The words themselves, though, are a string of sounds and some scratches on a page. They only have the power that we have collectively decided they should possess.

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2013/03/words-have-power-we-give-them.html
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: BC_cheque on June 23, 2017, 07:42:41 pm
I don't think it's your place to tell people what should and what shouldn't offend them. 

Especially when you have no first hand knowledge of what being a victim of racism feels like.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: JMT on June 23, 2017, 09:13:27 pm
I don't think it's your place to tell people what should and what shouldn't offend them. 

Especially when you have no first hand knowledge of what being a victim of racism feels like.

I think the two of you are arguing from a completely different philosophical place than I am.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: JMT on June 23, 2017, 09:24:14 pm
I think I should back this up - I'm not arguing that the word doesn't have horrible connotations.  It shouldn't be said.  I used it as an example of how I feel about all words in general.  Words are inventions of humanity that we give meaning to.  The N word is something that we gave meaning to.  Humanity collectively could also take that meaning away, though far less easily given the history of the word's use.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: cybercoma on June 25, 2017, 03:20:38 am
When you say there's no real power in word it's like you've completely forgotten what psychological abuse is.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: JMT on June 25, 2017, 09:20:08 am
When you say there's no real power in word it's like you've completely forgotten what psychological abuse is.

But to let something harm you, you have to first perceive it as harm.  As a society, we have come (with good reason) to perceive that word as harmful - but what if we didn't?
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: kimmy on June 25, 2017, 11:46:46 am
It's not the word itself.  It's that when a white person uses it, they're associating themselves with a school of thought that views black people as inferior.  It's not the word itself, it's the message you send out by using the word.

 -k
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: JMT on June 25, 2017, 02:03:49 pm
It's not the word itself.  It's that when a white person uses it, they're associating themselves with a school of thought that views black people as inferior.  It's not the word itself, it's the message you send out by using the word.

 -k

What about when someone like Bill Maher, who obviously doesn't believe black people are inferior, uses it?  I understand how the word is seen and was used.  I understand that he shouldn't have said it.  I also understand that he used it as a comedian (not that it was funny).
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: kimmy on June 26, 2017, 12:44:07 am
What about when someone like Bill Maher, who obviously doesn't believe black people are inferior, uses it?  I understand how the word is seen and was used.  I understand that he shouldn't have said it.  I also understand that he used it as a comedian (not that it was funny).

Context matters, C.  I think it's dumb to take Bill Maher (or Quentin Tarantino, or any number of others) to task for using the word in a context pertinent to the work they're producing.  On the other hand, if Mel Gibson uses the word while yelling at his girlfriend for dressing like a **** or something, that's a whole different story.

 -k
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: JMT on June 26, 2017, 11:22:06 am
And that's the problem I have.  Context matters, but Bill Maher was ripped to shreds over its use.  He was wrong to use it, and he admitted that.  He apologized over and over.  For a time, I still thought he wouldn't be let back on the air.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: BC_cheque on June 26, 2017, 04:44:06 pm
I don't think Maher meant any harm either but if he lost his career over it, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

It's about time people learn you can't take it upon yourself to decide whether you're using the word appropriately.  Just don't.

Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: SirJohn on June 29, 2017, 01:40:48 pm
I don't think Maher meant any harm either but if he lost his career over it, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

Seriously? Maher has spent his life fighting for liberal causes and against racism and homophobia. He donated a million dollars to Obama's reelection campaign. You wouldn't be bothered if he lost his career over the misuse of a word a single time during a live show when he was tired?
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: BC_cheque on June 29, 2017, 02:01:23 pm
Yeah, I do.  For the exact same reasons I said before, I think people need to learn it's not up to them to decide whether they're 'down' enough to use the word. 

He could've even said 'house slave' instead but 'house N' with er at the end is way out of line for a white person to say.  No matter who they are and how many black friends they have or how many black causes they support.

Just. Don't.

There's a good scene in Dear White People about this. 

Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: SirJohn on June 29, 2017, 04:08:18 pm
Yeah, I do.  For the exact same reasons I said before, I think people need to learn it's not up to them to decide whether they're 'down' enough to use the word. 

And I think people need to understand the concept of forgiveness and empathy for a fellow human being, who is as imperfect as all of us.
Title: Re: The N Word
Post by: kimmy on June 29, 2017, 09:58:17 pm
He could've even said 'house slave' instead but 'house N' with er at the end is way out of line for a white person to say. 

The phrase "house negro" has a history in American political discourse that has lasted beyond slavery.  It has a connotation similar to "Uncle Tom".

If Bill Maher had been using it in a relevant context, I could understand the usage.  It turns out he wasn't, of course, so I think it was very stupid of him.

 -k