Kramer Gone Wild!
But why has Michael Richards lost his mind?
That's rhetorical; don't answer. But if you don't know, Richards is the crazy-haired dude who played Cosmo Kramer for nine seasons on Seinfeld.
According to this story and this video, apparently captured on a cell phone during a standup comedy act Richards was doing last Friday at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, a couple of black men in the audience were heckling Richards.
He replied by calling the hecklers N-words and telling them to shut up 'cause 50 years earlier those hecklers would have been turned upside down with pitchforks shoved into their behinds.
When one of the hecklers yelled back to Richards that that word "was uncalled for," Richards told him "that's what happens when you interrupt a white man."
One of the hecklers also called Richards a "cracker-a$$" after his rant and got up and walked out. For the record, I don't think that was right either.
So I was driving a round-about route away from an interview this afternoon and heard a regional talk radio pundit yammering about the Richards incident and how he felt that word was despicable and should not be used by anyone BUT that he was troubled by the "double standards" applied to its usage.
I like this particular pundit. I disagree with him a lot but I like his style. So that revelation about the "double standards" annoyed me.
I say baloney. He - along with all the other pundits who raise this issue from time to time - is no more confused by the "double standards" with that word than they are when a gay man calls a friend, a fellow gay man, a certain sexual epithet. Like it or not, some people take words once used against them and turn them into terms of endearment with each other.
Regardless, I still don't think that anyone should use that word.
But some stuff is just common sense. I wouldn't walk up to a white friend or colleague and call them a racial epithet, something that denigrated white people.
So why is this so hard to get?
If you really feel the need to call people names, then do the universally acceptable thing: be shallow like the rest of us and call people names because of their weight, or their low brain power, or their body odor, or their poor fashion sense, or their hair style, or their jacked up teeth - all things that arguably, unlike skin color (unless you're Michael Jackson), they can change.
Tip to Michael Richards: You'd have been OK and in the clear if you'd just called the hecklers A-holes or something like that, something that reflected on their actions and not on an inconsequential trate like their race.