Many people have drawn many conclusions from the Trayvon Martin case, but Rush Limbaugh's is this: He's allowed to say the N-word, now.
Bear in mind, I'm not writing about this because I think Limbaugh's comments are interesting or provocative. This post exists to make fun of a famous person being dumb. But I also wonder why Limbaugh -- and so many other of my fellow white people -- even want to say the N-word.
In an interview with Piers Morgan, Martin's friend, Rachel Jeantel, said something Limbaugh took as the justification he's apparently long sought to say the word. He's found a loophole, you see: Jeantel said that while "n----er," is an offensive term, "n----a" is just a word that refers to "any male." She said even a Chinese person could be male.
"So, n---a with an a on the end," Limbaugh said on his show Tuesday. "It's not racist! I could be talking about a male. A Chinese male. A guy at the laundromat."
Sure, because that's where Chinese guys love hanging out, right? But let's set that one aside for a moment.
It's unclear why Limbaugh thinks a teenage girl giving him permission to use the word would make her a spokeswoman for all people who might be offended by the word. It's also unclear why so many white people think it's so unfair that black people can say the N-word and they can't.
So let's talk about fairness. White people have an amazing deal, by virtue of being born white. Is that fair? We've had a 400-year economic head start, police don't profile us, old ladies don't clutch their purses when we walk by because of our skin color.
The supposed downside? We can't say the word. That's it. The one thing we can't do.
Seems like a more than fair tradeoff.
And I still I hear some white people thinking: What about in the car, with the windows rolled up, when I'm singing along with N.W.A.?
I guess that's harmless, in a tree-falls-in-the-woods sort of way. But I'd probably feel differently if you were saying the word while listening to NPR.
Here's the reason you shouldn't say the N-word, ever, even if someone you see on TV seems to be reaching out to you directly to say it's okay: Because you might make someone feel bad. Or like you value them less because of their race. Their nice day might be ruined by having to wonder whether you were making a racial joke, or just referring to hypothetical Chinese guys "at the laundromat."
Oh wait: In that situation, you would be racist either way. Bad example.
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