sometime during the last half century, blacks pulled off a most amazing trick: they kidnapped a word. they kidnapped it from the white majority that had been using it to demean and oppress them.
there are two parts to this trick that make it so amazing. first, the word's ongoing captivity has served to extend its natural lifespan and potency far beyond that of its increasingly quaint contemporaries. second, blacks have convinced whites that what they've taken from them is something of real value, something that they need to take back.
most offensive words have only a limited shelf-life. whatever signifigance that originally makes them offensive is usually bound up in the zeitgeist of the period in which they are born. eventually, after the passing of enough generations, whatever context that gave them life and power becomes drained by everyday usage and is lost to those who grow up never having personally felt their emotional sting. the surest sign that an offensive term has hit its expiration date is the lifting of any bans on its public usage. after the word "bitch" became allowable on public airwaves, it has since become so flaccid (despite an initial period of titillation) that the slang term "bee-yatch" was squeezed from it in a naked but ultimately futile attempt to milk new life from it.
but in a feat drawing the envy of professional outrage manufacturers and propagandists everywhere, blacks have locked the n-word away in a kind of linguistic cryogenic freezer, safe for blacks' own endless private indulgence, whose continued undisguised flaunting of their hostage has now driven a self-annointed self-help counselor and moralist to commit professional suicide.
dr. laura: black guys use it all the time. turn on HBO and listen to a black comic, and all you hear is n****, n*****, n*****. i don't get it. if anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing. but when black people say it, it's affectionate. it's very confusing.
their exclusive use of n-word is one of the few possessions that blacks have that whites don't, but most whites fail to realize that its enjoyment comes not from being able to say it, but from being able to watch the veins jealously swell up in the foreheads of racists and race-baiters as the word gets stuck in their throats, trapped there because the consequences of freeing it have become so personally damaging. comedian elon james white conveniently enumerates for us all the different types of outrage he feels free to unleash upon a white person unwise enough to utter the word:
listen, i'm not saying that white people can't say the word "ni**er", okay? what i am saying is that if you say it, i can also hate you, okay? i can mock you; i can not buy your product; i can ask for your firing; i can write letters, march, chain myself to shit. i can do that, okay? but you, you can totally say the word "ni**er".
go for it!
to many whites, but especially to shock-jocks and professional rabble-rousers like dr. laura, rush limbaugh, andrew breitbart and sarah palin, being deprived of the use of one more insult is "very confusing" and simply too unfair and blacks are being too oversensitive about their attempts to use it.
of course it's unfair! slavery was unfair. segregation was unfair. redlining was unfair. what happened to shirley sherrod and especially what happened to her father was unfair. that's the whole point! so get used to it, guys!
besides, do whites really want to go to the mat over the right to demean their former chattel? it's just not a fight they're going to win, not when it's being fought for by paid and pampered blowhards, cranks and cynics.
still, there are two ways the n-word will die the natural death it is certainly long due. option one: when blacks release their hostage and no longer exact a price from whites for daring to use it, which, considering its continued effectiveness, as dr. laura can surely attest to, is not bloody likely to happen in this lifetime.
realistically then, this leaves us in the present with only option two: when whites let go of their n-word envy and realize that this is one hostage that's not worth rescuing. it seems most whites already have.
addendum: like every white person before her who grossly miscalculated that they could juggle the n-bomb without detonating it, dr. laura and her supporters want to turn her darwin-award-worthy implosion into an heroic constitutional auto-da-fé:
... my contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year and i have made the decision not to do radio anymore. the reason is: i want to regain my first amendment rights. i want to be able to say what's on my mind, and in my heart, what i think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors. i'm sort of done with that. i'm not retiring. i'm not quitting. i feel energized actually, stronger and freer to say the things that i believe need to be said for people in this country.
i'm not sure which document she's referring to, but the first amendment of the united states' constitution protects her freedom to speak or write from infringements by the government.
so, if president obama had picked up the phone and said to attorney general holder:
yo, eric ... i'm sick of this dr. laura bee-yatch getting all up in my peeps' grills with her shizz. man, she took it to goddam eleven this time. even clarence's gotta get behind us on this one. put the word out: her hole is closed — today.
... well, then she'd have something to complain about.
but the first amendment does not protect you from public criticism. it does not protect you from your listeners, your sponsors, your owners or your neighbors. and it certainly does not protect you from your own big mouth.
so if dr. laura thinks she can find a venue somewhere on this planet where she can spew her special brand of wisdom "without somebody getting angry" (translation: without someone cutting off her income stream), well then, good luck to the lady. wherever that is, i'm sure it's pretty crowded there already.