Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Racial Penalty Flag

Someone in my Twitter timeline who doesn't follow me back asked in reference to the latest news break out of the NFL 
"Why isn’t the NFL trying to ban all curse words and slurs? Why only ‘nigga’ or ‘nigger’?"

I'll assume it wasn't a rhetorical question and will answer him and anybody else who may be wondering the same thing here.

The #NFL has no problem with profanity so long as microphones fail to pick it up. They get that grown men hitting each other will often curse while doing so.

The #NFL is strictly addressing racism with this move. You recall being mad at Riley Cooper, right? If ugly remarks like his infamous ones are said in a game rather than a rodeo or wherever the heck he was, that's now a penalty. Simple enough.

Think of it this way. Murder is a crime. But lawmakers also saw fit to make an extra category of racial based murder called a hate crime.

Murder is murder.  Dead is dead. But there is a greater penalty to pay for a hate crime killing than a “standard, garden variety” killing, just as killing a cop is treated harsher than civilian murder.

Just as there's murder & then there's hate crime murder, you can say (the NFL certainly is) that there's profanity and then there's hate crime level profanity.  We all know the words that are meant to insult someone’s race.  The n-word gets the most attention these days, even has TV specials dedicated to it.  Frankly, I think I said all that needs to be said on the subject here 

But the n-word slur certainly doesn’t stand alone.  If you think it does, ask someone who is Hispanic or Jewish or Asian or Native American or pretty much anything.  We don’t even bother being discreet when it comes to Native Americans.  We use ethnic slurs against them as team names!!!  That’s why I wrote this 

The NFL is trying to bear down on "hate crime" variety profanity. Hence, the n-word is being treated harsher than the f-word, b-word, c-word, etc.  It isn’t a generic insult.  It is specifically based on race and many laws have had to be passed in this country to reinforce that racial discrimination/abuse is a no-no.

That's the answer to the question. But the extra wrinkle is that most n-word usage in NFL (per my guess) is not "White on Black" but “Black on Black”.  The majority of n-word use in #NFL isn't said by the Riley Coopers or our society. It's being said by one black guy to another.

Therefore you can say that the NFL isn't so much trying to curb racial hate as putting a pause on racial self hate.

You can reasonably see this as condescending IF you view the NFL as a white institution primarily policing their black employees in this matter.  After all, 70% of the players are black and 100% of the owners (or if not, then damn close to it) are white. So a rule change primarily targeting African Americans is targeting the majority of the league. I wonder what percentage of the other 30% is Samoan.  But I digress.

The #NFL can rightfully reply that they are a private organization. Nobody has to work for them. Be a garbage man and say the n-word all day long if you wish.  No slight intended to sanitation workers, by the way.  It’s simply the first profession that sprang to mind to use as an example.

The #NFL is stepping into some choppy waters here. Some have been angered, some nod in agreement, all should agree it's a bold statement.

I will repeat that I believe most use of the n-word on #NFL fields, even when used angrily, is said without offensive intent. Racism is society's problem, not necessarily the NFL's.  So why should the #NFL bother to play with this landmine?

Societal change often starts in sports. That's one of the coolest things about sports, why I've so often written about the far reaching impact of games we watch grown men play.

Branch Rickey once insisted that his Dodgers be better than baseball so Major League Baseball would be better than society so society would become better.  Even if his true motivation was considerably more selfish ("bringing in some black guys will get us to the World Series and make me more money"), the end result still turned out to be a better world.

Blacks parrot white racism against selves with n-word usage. No getting around this no matter what spin you put on it.  It does not matter if a foul mouthed parrot does not mean anything mean spirited by the words it learned from the pirate who owns him. It’s still cussing.

Would significantly reducing black on black simulated verbal abuse improve society? The debate rages on. Positions remain entrenched.

Even if non bigoted n-word usage isn't harmful, it also isn't beneficial to anybody other than guy in need of a word rhyming with trigger.

Or malt liquor. Not the most compelling reasons so perhaps it’s worth at least considering letting the n-word go quietly into the night.

The other day my 7 year old daughter told me her white classmate said there is a bad word in a Jay Z song that starts with N. His dad told him it's bad.

I'm guessing it came up because the kid was rapping along with the song so his dad had to say "hold up there, sonny, not cool to say that".

My daughter wanted to know if I knew what the word was, and if so, could I tell her. She's real interested these days in curse words.

Topic of bigotry hasn't even entered picture on anyone's end at this point. My daughter just wants to learn a new cuss word for her collection.  I'm sloppy with Spotify and YouTube. Every so often I'll let a song with curses play and when she catches one my daughter acts like it’s a prize.

I tell her that I do know what n-word is in the song, that I won't be telling her what it is, and that her friend's dad is right.

I also tell her that she will eventually find out what the word is, at which point we'll have the discussion on why I feel it's a bad word to say.

She's no doubt heard the n-word several times, pretty much exclusively by blacks, but she doesn't know to have an opinion on it yet.

Even if you're cool with n-word usage (by African Americans) perhaps you at least agree that it shouldn't come from the mouths of babes. But what we say, they will surely repeat.  Kids are able to repeat many more words than a parrot can.  Eventually they learn all of the meanings, come to understand all of the outward hate intended by them, and have to decide for themselves if some of it is being directed inward.

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