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Duane Campbell <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Jun 1996 16:41:30 PDT
TEXT/PLAIN (32 lines)
Where is Thomas Bowdler when you really need him.

"Nigger" was in common usage in the 19th Century, and it was not necessarily
an expletive. Since the red flag nature of the word is a fairly modern
development, I do not see how it "accurately describe[s] the indignation
suffered by a group of people."

Strangely the word is still commonly used in its 19th Century sense today,
non-pejorative slang, but only by black people (or people of color or
Americans or Blacks or whatever the approved jargon is this week). It is the
only word I can think of that is proscribed not because it is offensive in
itself but rather according to who the speaker is. You will not hear Jews
referring to one another as "kikes" nor Hispanics as "Spics", and I respect
their genuine sensitivity to such ethnic epithets.

The violent opposition to the use of "nigger" by white people while it
common parlance among Blacks is hypocritical. While I do not advocate
reintroducing it into our daily conversations, I think this hipersensitivity
to MT's use is overwrought.

Should we also go through all of our literature and remove every instance
where a character gyps someone or welshes on a debt? And what are we to do
with that Garrison Keillor, adulated by the same wine and cheese crowd who
want to bowdlerize MT, who spends two hours on public radio every week
Norwegian jokes?

Duane Campbell