[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on VDARE.com]
The Suits at VDARE.com won’t let me spell out the N-word in full. I understand the reasons for that and am totally on board with the policy. It’s irksome, though; it annoys me. [VDARE.com Suits: it annoys us too, but it’s because Tech Totalitarian corporate censorware would block us for using it].
Not because I dislike black people. There are many I like a lot. Here’s one: scholar of human language John McWhorter of Columbia University .Back in 2016 I noted a column Professor McWhorter had published at The Daily Beast under the title “Anti-Racism, Our Flawed New Religion.” Anti-racism is, he wrote, is “what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus and, among most Blue State Americans, more so.”
But I think that a situation where one part of the citizenry is prohibited, on pain of career destruction, from uttering a word that the other part uses with perfect liberty, is unjust.
I don’t mind taboo words in themselves. Probably every organized society needs taboo words. A taboo word should be taboo to everybody, though. Otherwise you’re in one of those situations Sir James Frazer wrote about in The Golden Bough, one of those primitive societies where certain words can only be spoken by members of the ruling elite.
Well, here’s a couple of stories from the past few days that I’m going to put under the heading “N-word Watch.” I may make this a regular feature.
- First story: Meet Kyle Larson, 27 years old, a race-car driver.
Larson was a rising star in NASCAR. Apparently—I didn’t know this, and I hope I’m getting it right—you don’t get to be a star driver in NASCAR unless you are employed by an organization that runs teams of drivers.
Larson was an employee of an outfit named Chip Ganassi Racing. He was doing so well, he was preparing to go free agent, so that Chip Ganassi would have to fight a bidding war with other outfits for Larson’s services. Pretty nice career spot to be in for a 27-year-old.
Last week, it all fell apart. Sunday night, wearing a headset for some kind of live-streamed virtual event, Larson lost communication with a colleague—a white guy, as it happens. Checking the mike, he said: “You can’t hear me, [N-word]?”
Except of course he didn’t say [N-word]. He said the actual taboo word.
It was a hot mike. Larson was suspended without pay by Ganassi early Monday, then suspended indefinitely by NASCAR. Then big sponsors—Chevrolet, McDonald’s, Credit One Bank—started pulling out, so Ganassi totally fired him. [Larson Fired After Sponsors Drop NASCAR Driver over Racial Slur, AP, April 14, 2020]
For using the N-word—with a white colleague.
Ridiculous & sad! Black people don’t care abt so-called “N” word! They use it ALL the time. They pretend to be hurt when whites use it so they can play victim & control whites.
— Jesse Lee Peterson (@JLPtalk) April 15, 2020
Larson, by the way, is half-Japanese, an unusual thing in auto racing. His grandparents spent time in an internment camp in California during World War II, so he has some victim cred.
It didn’t help. Blackety-Black victimhood trumps every other kind.
- Second story: Eugene Volokh is a scholar teaching First Amendment Law at UCLA Law School in, of course, Los Angeles. The First Amendment, in case you need reminding, is the one that, inter alia, forbids Congress to make any law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” VDARE.com has cited Volokh many times e.g. Eugene And Eugenics, Eugene Volokh Repeats: “Hate Speech” is Not a Thing, Constitutionally Speaking, “Letting In Immigrants Means Letting In Your Future Rulers”, and Eugene Volokh On The ADL and Free Speech
So here’s this scholar teaching First Amendment Law.
Well, last October the University of Connecticut Police Department arrested two students who were filmed shouting the N-word while walking in a parking lot[Two students arrested in connection to racist comments, by Gabriella DeBenedictis, The Daily Campus, October 22, 2019]. The students were loud enough to be heard by two people in an adjacent apartment complex. These people called the campus police, the students were arrested and charged under a state law that makes it an offense to ridicule someone’s race.
Volokh, our scholar, led a class discussion about that incident. He argued, that the law is (a) unconstitutional, and (b) was anyway misapplied in this Connecticut case. He invited students to argue the pros and cons with him—just as a college teacher should do.
Along the way, however, he uttered the N-word in all its taboo fulness.
Some students apparently suffered hurt feelings and, when they had been revived and restored to full functioning, ratted on Prof. Volokh to the college authorities.
The law school dean, Jennifer Mnookin (n.b. Lance Welton—female, pictured right) issued a sniveling public apology for Volokh’s gross and shameless breach of political correctness. Volokh has defended himself spiritedly UCLA Law Dean Apologizes for My Having Accurately Quoted the Word——–n Discussing a Case.
Volokh is so good here. I wish the rest of the world were equally mature. https://t.co/jVeiELZ0Ay
— Timothy Sandefur (@TimothySandefur) April 14, 2020
While he has the right to make that choice as a matter of academic freedom and First Amendment rights, so long as he is not using this or other words with animus, many of us—myself included—strongly believe that he could achieve his learning goals more effectively and empathetically without repeating the word itself.
UCLA Law apologizes for First Amendment scholar quoting n-word in class, by Greg Piper, The College Fix, April 15, 2020
Since when did the First Amendment not apply to “animus”?
I have not so far heard that Eugene Volokh has been fired from UCLA Law School. Perhaps he has tenure, I don’t know.
If he should lose his job over this, I understand that Chip Ganassi Racing is looking for drivers.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by VDARE.com com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.