Opinion

It’s politically correct ‘N’-timidation

Congress calls Social Security the third rail in untouchables in their business.

In mine, it’s writing about blacks, Indians and homosexuals.

Earlier this year, Sen. Alex Deccio, R-Yakima, called Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Roy, a “n——- in the woodpile” during a closed meeting, in questioning his sincerity about reforming health care. It was too volatile to die there.

Black leaders demanded Deccio resign his seat, or at the least lose his chairmanship of the Senate Health Committee and apologize to the world at large.

Deccio did apologize on the floor of the Senate, after which he was hugged by Sen. Rosa Franklin, D-Tacoma, the only black senator, and forgiven by Campbell, who is white. Nothing further happened.

I wrote about it because I have known Deccio for many years and wanted to say that I have never known him to use a racial slur or tell a racist joke. In other words, he was not a closet bigot, he just used a timeworn expression about suspicion without thinking.

I used the N word spelled out, which was the way it appeared in the wire service and newspaper stories I saw.

I don’t know how many editors used that column or how many letters resulted from it. One such was to the Kitsap Business Journal from Peter Thurman of Bremerton, who sent copies to the Bremerton mayor, Kitsap County commissioners and the Council for Human Rights.

“Use of racial slurs desensitizes people to racism,” he wrote, among other things. “(It) ranges from minor insults to murder/torture and the basic theme is the same: inflict suffering on someone due to their race.”

He said I was old enough to know the “blatant terror” it aroused.

The Human Rights Council took up the letter and column at its next meeting and unanimously agreed with Mr. Thurman, so informing Journal publisher editor Lary Coppola and sending a copy to the Board of County Commissioners.

I don’t know what the commissioners were expected to do about it.

“While the Council supports all freedoms, it believes these freedoms, as the right to free speech and freedom of the press, can be misused and abused,” they wrote. “Part of our right to freedoms is for all people to have a voice. When racial slurs are used, the disgrace that ensues actually prevents this voice from being expressed and noticed. The use of racial slurs and sexist comments not only degrades the culture intended to shame, but also the readers.

“Does Ms. Ferguson think that she can support the use of such language and that readers will not notice? Readers do notice and are understandably upset. Does the Journal seek to limit its readers to those who would agreed with and support such language and perceptions? Maybe it is time that Ms. Ferguson gets in line with the rest of us and moves forward. It is never honorable to seek to advance oneself on the backs of others.”

Coppola called their statement about misuse of freedoms “arrogant and pompous.”

Who gave them the privilege of censoring the right of free speech, he demanded by letter. “Get over yourselves. Advocating such an insult to what America stands for humiliates the Council’s mission and libels absolutely everything it has obviously deluded itself into believing it stands for.

“Part of our right to freedoms is for all people to have a voice. Well, you can’t have it both ways. ALL people means exactly that — everyone, even those who use racial slurs in daily conversation. DO NOT mistake this as me saying the use of racial slurs is acceptable, or non-offensive. It is not. But quite frankly, the simple reporting of such statements as abuse of the First amendment is little more than blatant political correctness taken to absurd levels. Please explain why reporting the truth is offensive. Personally, I prefer the viewpoint expressed by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to George Washington, stating ‘No government ought to be without censors and where the press is free no one ever will.’”

By the way, the Council never communicated its displeasure over the column to me.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.

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