Date: Sat, 22 Oct 1994 10:34:50 CST


Subject: Re: offending idiot

In Message Thu, 20 Oct 1994 08:56:23 -0700,

Roger Vanderveen rvander[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] writes:

Sorry, Chuck, you just offended someone there by saying "Oriental!"

One of the ridiculous aspects of "supposed racism", is that you are called a

racist if you "don't keep" with the currently accepted term, or if you are not

a member of the group you refer to.

The example already given was niggers, oops, sorry, I mean negroes, no, wait a

minute, coloreds, no, that's not right either, umm, Afro-Americans, oops, that

was 60s, it's, uhh, blacks, yeah, no! it's become African Americans, yeah, you

people, calling yourselves niggers!

I am afraid you have trivialized the offense in Chuck's note. As well

stated in David Muschell's reply, the offense derives in part from Chuck's

grandparents naming their dog a racial/racist epithet. Once posted on the

dam, not everybody new "Nigger" was used for a dog. Besides at the time the

dog was named "Nigger," this term was not an accepted designation for Blacks

or African Americans. Do you recall any time in the history of the USA when

"Nigger" was an acceptable term for African Americans? I do not know that

African Americans would be offended today if you described them as "black"

(with or without a cap). While we might find it amusing that names for a

particular ethnic group keep changing (and I take no offense at this), the

particular incident at issue here is not so amusing (except perhaps in the

privacy of our homes). I doubt that the reason the sign was removed had to

do with being politically correct. There is more to the act than some may

want to recognize.

By the way, I was careful in telling Chuck "let the rest of us tell you

what we think of your remarks" not "of you" (i.e., Chuck). What I thought

was primarily that the remarks were insensitive, that he was careless in

posting something that was bound to be interpreted diversely and perhaps

differently from what he intended, that some of us may think he is racist.

Chuck has been wise enough to apologize. I, among the people who were

offended, accept the apology. But I find your trivialization of the issue



Salikoko S. Mufwene

University of Chicago

Dept. of Linguistics

1010 East 59th Street

Chicago, IL 60637


312-702-8531; fax: 312-702-9861