Thursday, March 23, 2006

Condi Rice & The C-Word

In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, the AP reports that a St. Louis radio station quickly fired a talk show host for uttering a racial epithet as he talked about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on his morning show Wednesday. He was apparently heaping praise on the Ms. Rice when he had the following slip of the tongue:
"She's been chancellor of Stanford. She's got the patent resume of somebody that has serious skill. She loves football. She's African-American, which would kind of be a big coon. A big coon. Oh my God. I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that."

As you can see, the talk show host immediately apologized. The station president and general manager went on the air 20 minutes later to apologize to Ms. Rice and the KTRS listeners:
"There can be no excuse for what was said. Dave Lenihan has been let go. ... There is enough hate. We certainly are not going to fan those flames."
Of course, the NAACP was quick to commend the station president for his swift action.

I may have missed something, but why was Dave Lenihan fired? It is obvious from the context of what he was saying, that calling Condoleeza Rice a "coon" was a slip of the tongue. It was a mistake. How is that fanning the flames of hate?

If we are so hypersensitive about everything and have to watch everything we say to everybody, we are going to get to the point where no one says anything. And that is going to be the saddest day of all, because when we stop talking, we stop communicating, and we stop learning how to understand each other. I would rather have a bigot call me the N-word, than have him act like he respects me.

7 comments:

D-Place said...

I completely agree with your statement:

I would rather have a bigot call me the N-word, than have him act like he respects me.

Yes I'm buying a travel clock. LOL

Terrence said...

And that is going to be the saddest day of all, because when we stop talking, we stop communicating, and we stop learning how to understand each other. I would rather have a bigot call me the N-word, than have him act like he respects me."

But we haven't stopped talking. The fact that this discussion is taking place on various blogs and discussion forums is proof that this is how we learn. This is how we learn what is and isn't acceptable.

Also, even if his statement was a Freudian slip, it doesn't change the fact that he said "coon". Whether it was a so-called mistake or not, it doesn't change the words that came out of his mouth.

If NBC's Brian Williams or Al Sharpton said it on their shows, it would be equally offensive.

If the St. Louis dude were allowed to go scott free, then anyone who says derogatory terms like "coon", "nigger", "spic" or "honky" on the radio or TV could then claim, "Oh, that was a mistake, a slip of the tongue, I apologize. I really meant to say something else." They could claim the same thing.

Please.

I have laughed in people's face when I have been called a "nigger" (among other things) in person or on forums or blogs. It doesn't bother me because the person is IGNORANT and I know who I am.

However, when you are a radio talk show host, professionalism is expected in most instances. If you slip up then you are at the mercy of your employer and the public.

Polimom said...

Terrence said:

"But we haven't stopped talking. The fact that this discussion is taking place on various blogs and discussion forums is proof that this is how we learn. This is how we learn what is and isn't acceptable."

He's absolutely right - we are all talking. It's at this point right here, where viewpoints diverge, that communication often breaks down. Truth is, it isn't until the dialogues get difficult that progress begins.

plez... said...

Terrence & Polimom,
I understand your points and respect where you're coming from. And please don't get me wrong, I am not a proponent of hateful speech being broadcast across the airwaves.

But I just feel that in this particular instance (and I'm sure there have been others and there will be others), that this kind of knee-jerk reaction, this branding of a simple unintended utterance into a cause for dismissal to be unwarranted.

From what I've seen and read, the context in which he used the word just doesn't seem to justify the punishment he received. Now, I may be wrong and way off base here, but I feel that this guy had the proverbial "slip of the tongue" and misspoke. He apologized profusely and I think that should've been the end of it.

Polimom is correct, at least we are talking about it. And I have no issue with us deciding to agree to disagree on this one.

But Terrence you have to agree that your assertion that by letting Lenihan get away with this will open the floodgates for every two bit racist to use "coon", "nigger", "spic" or "honky" on the radio is a bit far fetched. I just don't see this as that kind of slippery slope.

Terrence said...

First, Polimom and I both agree that what is happening is constructive dialog - even if people don't agree. Personally, I understand people's position about a slip of the tongue. However, what he said should not be minimized if critically analysed.

And after hearing the audio on various sources - I am even more convinced that it was not accidental.

That doesn't change your opinion.

Secondly, I think you are walking blindly if you believe that such verbage left unchallenged wouldn't create a slippery slope. Humans have a tendency to be copycats.

I disagree wholeheartedly. You give people an inch and they will take yard.

I predict "Freudian slips" happening more often in the near future. Trust me, this is litmus test for the media and people who like to push the envelope.

ProfessorGQ said...

it is sooo interesting for how that radio announcer to freely say the word coon and immediately apologizes after that...he meant to call her that and the apology seemed pretty out of place since I am sure that was so insecere.

Christopher King said...

A tough call. I didn't hear it or see it so it could have been a slip. Obviously 'coon' rhymes with 'boon' and her name is 'Condi' so Good Lord, what's next?

I dunno. I think the NAACP has bigger issues, and one of them is the clear-cut snub of a white lawyer toward a black attorney caught on film:

http://christopher-king.blogspot.com/2006/03/naacps-bruce-gordon-sues-law-firm-orr.html

Also, I just blogrolled you. Thought I had it in last week but it didn't take.

Peace.