By Tom DeSeno
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” — Juliet of the House of Capulet
I’ve written columns for many outlets over the past 15 years, and one practice I’ve always maintained is to spell out the whole “N” word when it is being used in an historical context, as in, “Slave owners referred to blacks as “N.” I do the same when quoting another person, as in, “He called him a “N.” I’ve also reserved the right to spell it out in condemnation of the word itself, as in, “It’s wrong to call anyone a “N.”
My thinking was that the “N” word is an insult when intended that way. I owe my American brothers and sisters with superior protective pigment the courtesy of not using that word as an insult, because it is worse than other words on the insult scale.
However, I don’t owe anyone a distortion of history. I don’t owe anyone less than exactitude when it comes to a quote, lest I be distorting history myself.
Yet every single editor I’ve had changes the spelled out word to the abbreviated “N word” before my column is published (I’m using the abbreviated “N” word now instead of spelling out the word, in recognition of Ricochet’s past practice).
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t use the word casually. I don’t use it in my own conversations and have not done so in decades. I think the only time I ever really used it was during a fistfight on the playground. There are different rules when throwing down — I would get called a cracker, a honky, etc. and I would yell out as many reciprocal remarks as I could. None of the white or black kids watching considered it racist. Afterwards, even the combatants did not. When you are in a fight, the rules of decorum are suspended. You’retrying to insult the guy you’re punching in the face.admin | Filed under: Opinion, Race, Tommy DeSeno | Tags: N word, Obama, Opinion, Racism, Tom DeSeno | 11 Comments »