Subscriber Services Weather

Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Friday, September 29, 2006

Why Political Party Affiliation Says Nothing About Character

Recently, Sen. George Allen (R - Virginia), who is running for re-election, has been battered in the press and in certain talk radio arenas for allegedly spouting the N-word casually and gleefully as a younger man. He has been accused of using the word in reference to fellow football players when he was a student at the University of Virginia in the 1970s. He has been accused of stuffing a deer head into the mailbox of a black family after a hunting trip. He has been accused by a University of Alabama professor who visited Allen's rural home and observed turtles in a pond at the home in the early '80s of exclaiming to the 'Bama prof that only the N-words eat turtle soup. Even Larry Sabato, a respected - by both major political parties - political analyst at the University of Virginia, confirmed that he'd heard Allen use the word.

I think it's all despicable on Allen's part, and it may surprise you to know that I am an admitted hypocrite when it comes to the use of the N-word.

Anyway, at the height of all the righteous indignation over Allen's verbal transgressions, his Democrat opponent James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, was asked if he ever used the N-word back in the day.

Webb's answer, according to published reports? "The question was, 'Have I ever in my life said that word? I don't think anyone my age or my experience - and I grew up in a very tough environment - I cannot stand here and say to you or anyone that I have not said that word. But I never cast aspersions on another human being because of their background."

So let me translate: I used the word, but I didn't aim it at anyone in particular.

Hmmm. Sounds a lot like "I smoked trees (marijuana for those of you over the age of 40) but didn't inhale."

Two men. Two political extremes. Same bad judgement.


  • Between Allen and Webb I couldn't vote for anyone there.

    Wow I read your story of how your grandfather died over at Melissa's and I just could hardly believe it. It's a sad story but a good warning, I really didn't realize that could happen.

    By Blogger Sandra, at 12:38 PM  

  • There is no utterance in the American vocabulary with more demeaning and derogatory than the N-word, and regardless of what Webb says about his age and the times, he is just lying to himself. I was there, and I also inhaled a time or two, and not once did I use the word or allow another to do so in my presence without rebuke. Still, here I sit, trying to live blue in a red state, and it always comes down to the lesser of two evils where politics are concerned. I will hold my nose and vote for anyone running against the record of George Allen.

    By Blogger wordsonwater, at 12:33 AM  

  • I used it when I was 15 right after I was mugged in NYC
    Then my father heard me say it again and slapped me and we had a come to Jesus moment.
    I held my tognue from there on

    Thanks Dad

    By Blogger roberto e, at 10:51 PM  

  • I would like to nominate the jerk who tried to kill his supervisor at UM with mercury. A racist fool to be sure (the poisoner, not the poisoner) and less than a total moron. Maybe someone should put something nasty in his jail cell, like what a dog leaves on the street. If you didn't like your boss bud, then get another job, and if this was based on his race then get a clue. Also, James, I need to find the article again and have had a hard time with archives, can you help me out. Thanks

    By Anonymous llh, at 10:52 AM  

  • My nominations for the best behaved this week goes to two young men, about ages 15-16. I was helping a woman in a wheel chair out of the store, they were coming in. Without thought, each took a door and held it open until we could get outside. Not something you see often. The also asked if they could be of any further help. Kudo's to their parents, who by the way were no where in sight.

    By Anonymous llh, at 10:54 AM  

  • "I used the word, but didn't aim it at anyone" Hmmmmmmmm. If you used it you aimed it. You aimed it a a group of people who are a part of the human race. They are composed of the same chemical elements, have the same emotional capabilities, and no one deserves to have a nasty term applied to their family, friends, race, religion or any other part of their life. As for the turtle soup, I always thought of it as a delicacy, a treat, sorry someone was so stupid. I was raised in the south, where the word was used frequently, but in my family, to use that word or any other derogatory term towards a group of people was sure to get you grounded. Neither of these men would get my vote, but I would suggest that they need to be reeducated, especially in the social graces.

    By Anonymous llh, at 11:03 AM  

  • Sandra, thanks for the kind words and thanks for reading. Please come back often. And I'll be sure to read your blog as well. BTW, my wife is in love with old stoves like that in the picture you had in a recent posting. Maybe it's a Midwestern sensibility. She was born and raised in the Milwaukee area.

    WordsonWater, thanks for the insight. That is a tough word. I'll have more to say about it at some point. But I have to confess in advance that what I have to say may cause some shock and consternation to some folks. But in this I agree with you: it is the most (or certainly in the top two or three) most harsh, demeaning and derogatory slang in the American English vocabulary. At any rate, thank you too for reading and please come back for more.

    Roberto, I feel you. Even "looking" like I do, I would have gotten a backhand from my pops if I tossed that word around as a child. Come back again, my friend.

    And LLH, as always thanks for the insights, and for the nominations for the WBAs. I've extended nominations till Monday morning. I'll post the responses then.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:59 PM  

  • Hey, I've eaten turtle soup.

    By Anonymous og, at 4:15 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home