Thursday, 16 August 2007

Crazy Racists wasting our time

Beauty may lie in the eyes of the beholder but offence, surely, lies in the ears of the offended. Why is it then that in the climate of political correctness that we live in these days, a whole new sub-culture of incorrectness is growing for the sake of argument? The most recent shenanigans surrounding Big Brother was a white, middle class contestant Emily Parr’s use of the pejorative ‘nigger’ in reference to Charley Uchea, a black contestant on the show. Parr’s apologized but was evicted by Channel 4, a decision that saw 922 viewers complain about the unfairness of the eviction.

This incident sparked yet another racial debate, the last one having involved Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood actress, where the former had racially abused the latter on the reality show. Goody gave the excuse that she didn’t realize that it was racist. So far so Goody. How then, does it seem unfair to evict a contestant like Parr when she obviously didn’t learn anything from her predecessor and who, in fact, used an expletive that historically has an even crueler connotation?

The critics of the decision argued that since some members of the black community use the word amongst themselves with affection in movies and rap-records, the community should either not take offence or learn to eradicate the term from their popular and inner lingo. What these critics fail to understand is that only a small proportion of the black community uses the term as a greeting between themselves. New York City even passed a resolution in February, 2007 to ban the use of the word and with a 17.4% (source: US Census) black population being the largest ethnic minority in the city, this surely points towards something.

One would think that in these times of unprecedented education and social interaction brought by technology, racism can only decline, however, the truth is socially more complicated. Critics belonging to the I-will-stop-if-they-stop school of thought perhaps don’t see that an insult is an affront because the offender does not belong to the same group as the offended in the first place. Why must we use the word ‘faggot’ or ‘dyke’ to refer to a homosexual person or ‘spastic’ or ‘retard’ in reference of a challenged person, even if the gobbledygook is used by some in these groups to define themselves? Surely the English language has enough words to break such monotony of degrading filth. Our zeitgeist is in the unique position to document its evolution and like Big Brother the collective Beholder is constantly watching both the beauty and the beast, waiting for their tongues to slip.
[this was a feature for my journalism assignment so is a little late]

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