Covert offences

Okay, I realize that this post is a little late compared to when all this happened, but my point still stands, and I haven’t really found anyone who thinks like I on this.

For a long while I have, quite frankly, had my knickers in a twist about censorship in America. I see the point that swearwords are bad, especially the ones targeting a group such as the N-word or the F-word (I can’t type them out, to me it’s offensive). They shouldn’t be said because of their historical connotations and layer upon layers of discriminatory meaning ingrained in their use.
This post is about the fact that I have, for a long time, thought that censorship of words like fuck and shit, which children are exposed to anyway, misses the point.

Censoring these words give the impression that it’s easy to know if someone is being offensive or not, just listen to the words! If there’s a “fuck” in it, it’s probably offensive! Unfortunately, offensive sentences and positions are seldom gift-wrapped with a “shit” on top of them for you to notice.

A couple of months ago, the conservative radio-shrink Dr. Laura was fired from her job. A person called her radio show complaining that she, a woman of color, was experiencing racist name-calling from her husband’s, a white man, friends. Earlier in the conversation, Dr. Laura had said that she didn’t think stereotyping blacks was racist, because black people voted for Obama only because he was black.

She the proceeded to complain that black comedians were allowed to use racial stereotyping, but not whites. And that’s when she said “Black guys use it all the time. Turn on HBO, listen to a black comic, and all you hear is nigger, nigger, nigger.” (read the entire cringe-inducing transcript here). She defended it by saying she was reclaiming her first amendment rights, but ultimately, she was fired.

My position is this: I haven’t heard much of Dr. Laura’s programmes. But I have, in research for this post, read some of her transcripts. Saying that racial stereotyping (She fondly remembers saying to her black bodyguard that “White men can’t jump”, so she wanted him on her basketball team.) isn’t racist, isn’t just wrong, it’s offensive as all hell.

She has had this programme for a number of years, surely answering questions on race relations and other inflammatory subjects. I simply refuse to believe that in all these years, she hasn’t said a single offensive thing. Here’s an example where she gives her vocal and ferocious support of an anti-abortion campaign showing dead fetuses on the side of trucks. That, to me, is incredibly offensive to a right women acquired in Roe v. Wade several decades ago. Yet, the idea of firing her isn’t even brought up, because there was no slur.

Offensive things are said everywhere, all the time. Seldom are they as easy to spot as a “fuck” in a Lil’ Wayne video. We have to keep our eyes open to it. Censoring moves focus from the meaning of a sentence to a simple word. It seems like a futile attempt at screening young people from offensive things. It doesn’t. They can turn on Fox News and listen to birthers, a movement that is fuelled on badly hidden misogyny. That’s offensive.

My point is this: Dr Laura was an ill-informed, ignorant, misogynist broadcaster before she used a racial slur. Why does it have to come to that? Using racial slurs is inexcusable and horribly disgusting. But just because you don’t use them doesn’t mean you can’t voice disgusting opinions.


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