A reminder about words
Sharpton is upset that TMZ.com, in poking fun of singer Beyonce Knowles' gold-colored, robotic-looking outfit from the recent BET Awards, referred to the outfit as a "robo-ho" outfit.
Sharpton says that all jokes aside, TMZ.com shouldn't have called Beyonce any sort of "ho."
There are plenty of real ho's out there who deserve the label. I'm not just talking females. I have buddies I call hos. They know it. Sure, I speak in jest. But I mean it when I call them that. Why? They're promiscuous.
Harvey Levin says Sharpton should lighten up. He says that it isn't a matter of TMZ.com thinking Beyonce is a "ho" or a "whore" or a "prostitute." It's just a joke.
I don't often agree with the Rev. on anything. But I think he might be right in this case.
On the one hand TMZ.com backpedaled on the site and suggested the use of the word "ho" is wrong in any case. On the other hand, Levin says it was OK to call Beyonce's outfit ho-ish because the site has also called Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan, among others, hos for their alleged promiscuous behavior. Sharpton agreed with the Web site on one thing: that "ho" shouldn't be used in any case.
So if the standard TMZ.com uses for doling out the label "ho," is one based on ladylike vs. promiscuous behavior, then Sharpton was right to object to the Web site's using it in reference to Beyonce. She does not have a promiscuous reputation as do the young women Levin referenced in defense of the word.
I have to confess I read/watch items on TMZ.com regularly. I don't recall them calling singer Kylie Minogue a ho or her outfit ho-ish, when she began a concert last year in a similar sexy, robotic get-up.
Where both TMZ.com and Sharpton are wrong is in saying that "ho" should never be used. Once again, such a declaration takes us dangerously close to censorship for the sake of sparing everyone's feelings.
They don't need to be concerned about sparing everyone's feelings. They need to be concerned about not lumping groups of people together with slang and labels. It's the same place Imus got himself in trouble.
If he'd watched a documentary film the night before he went on the air that fateful morning that featured interviews with prostitutes and then mentioned on the air that the film was full of hos I don't think he'd have gotten himself in so much hot water. Instead he called apparently decent young women hos and that pissed people off.
Language lesson of the day: don't be afraid to critique, criticize, or analyze. But when you do, if you want to avoid grief make sure the adjective you use to describe your subject is accurate, or be prepared to demonstrate that you were just joking.
Moral of the day: It is true we all need to lighten up again. When people become so afraid of offending that they steer clear of jokes, even racy jokes, then we widen the fissures between different cultural and social groups. And that's the last thing we need in this country right now.