Down The Rabbit Hole

The New York Times fired a reporter because in an article from two years ago, he quoted a person who used the term nigger. Here is what the Executive Editor had to say:

“We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” 

Dean Baquet, New York Times executive editor, 

Here is the story as related in the Power Line Blog.

How far does one take it? Donald McNeil needed firing because he used the term once. What about the New York Times Music critic, Anthony Fantano? Fantano is a pasty faced white boy who has heaped all sorts of praise on rappers. 2Pac is number one with a bullet (I couldn’t resist) on his list.

Here is a sampling of just a couple of the late unlamented 2Pac’s lyrics. Seems like glowing praise and promotion of such sentiments ought to be just as egregious as the single instance of a quote. I await news of Fantano’s firing.

“Crooked Ass Nigga”
(feat. Stretch (Live Squad))
(Suddenly I see some niggas that I don’t like)
[*machine gun fires*]
(Got him)

(Young black male)
Hard like an erection
(Ain’t shit to fool with)
Yes, niggas! Yes, niggas! Yes, niggas!
Go, nigga, go!

Course liberals like to parse things and will explain that black folks can say nigger. White folks cannot. In their world Richard Wright’s description of Bigger Thomas as a bad nigger is acceptable. Mark Twain, being a long dead white guy, does not get a bye. But wait, when the term nigger is used in Huckleberry Finn it is sometimes spoken by Jim, an escaped slave. Is it racist for a black character created by a white guy to use the term?

I chased black crack cocaine dealers around San Antonio for the better part of ten years. I never found a white or Hispanic person operating at the wholesale or leadership level in the crack distribution network. For ten years I asked black crack dealers if they ever sold dope to a white guy. These were high level dealers, not the crack monsters standing on the street corner. Out of a hundred plus dealers, I found three that said yes. One was the boss and the other two were his runners. It is not like those two had a choice in the matter. It seems that racial profiling was in place, on the part of the dealers.

The term was in common use. Not among the cops. Nope, it was used by the dealers, informants, and witnesses (all black). It was a epithet. Sometimes derogatory but often as a term of endearment.

I am not a fan of the term. I don’t use it out of preference. My feeling is that if a term is sufficiently egregious then it ought to be unacceptable across the board. I have used it in the past and will continue to use it in certain instances.

Let’s apply woke theory to 2Pac:

(Young black male)
Hard like an erection
(Ain’t shit to fool with)
Yes, N-word! Yes, n-word! Yes, n-word!
Go, n-word, go!

Much better! But can one dance to it?

Common sense tells me that if n-word is a substitute for nigger, then it is just as offensive as the word it replaces. I take that back. It is even more offensive. It assumes that those likely to be offended are too stupid to recognize the substitution for what it is. A double insult.

I have finished my second novel. It deals with cops and dope dealers. Some of those dope dealers happen to be black. I wrote about them based on my experience. I sent the manuscript out to beta readers for comments.

I got a comment back objecting to my use of the term nigger. In a book of over 94,000 words, the word appears twice. In each instance it is a black character talking about a black character. Had I replicated my experience with black crack dealers, the term would have appeared in almost every paragraph, whenever a crack dealer spoke.

I’m waffling. I could use another term. However, the reality is that people who would object to the offending term would not be mollified. They would object to the 93,998 words that glorified the police and war on drugs.

I will eventually put the book out on Kindle. There is no way I can attract a publisher. I don’t have any lesbians, or transsexual characters. There is no police corruption and no anguish over putting assholes in jail. The story does not glorify drugs or drug dealers. Given the current climate, Joseph Wambaugh, George V. Higgins and Ed McBain would all be working a second job, for want of a publisher.