News and Tribune


July 5, 2013

NASH: The cost of free speech



Using the word in the segregated South during the middle of the last century might have been acceptable to some, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse. She admitted to using the word when she was working at a bank and was robbed by a black assailant. This reportedly happened in the 1980s. I believe that directing the word at a particular person when you are angry is an indicator of an underlying attitude of racism.

I learned early on that the word wasn’t one that should be used. In the infamous Saturday Night Live sketch where Chevy Chase is interviewing Richard Pryor for a job and he must administer a word-association test. The test administrator is to say a word and the person taking the test is suppose to think of the first thing that pops into their mind.

The whole thing starts out rather innocuously with simple words but it quickly escalates to words that have been used to offend African Americans over the years. As the words get worse and worse Richard Pryor becomes agitated trading insults that some have used to describe Caucasians. The last word that Chevy Chase says ends up being the “N-word,” to which Richard Pryor retorts “dead honky.”

Some people have come to her defense saying that the word is used by African-American comedians or musicians all the time. I have heard statements like, “Walmart fired Paula Deen but they continue to sell RAP albums.”  I don’t think these two things have anything to do with one another and the statement is rather asinine.

Paula Deen’s vast empire crumbled seemingly overnight. I didn’t fully understand how far her brand went until I started hearing about the companies that would no longer being doing business with her. Locally, the Horseshoe Casino put out a statement that they would monitor the situation closely, and the next day announced that they would be dropping her name from their popular buffet. 

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