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September 24, 2007

The First Time I Ever Used The Word Nigger.

Okay. Believe it or not, this is a post I've wanted to make for some time. It just never seemed like the right time -- until now. With the mailing list starting up again, the Random Offensives are flowing pretty good. Of course among this weekend's posting, mixed in with some Arabic jokes, some Indian jokes, some pedophile jokes, some Chinese jokes, were a couple of black jokes. Now there's an art form to telling racist jokes, be they black or anything else, but I'll use black jokes as an example because it's easier to illustrate my point. It involves the use, or more importantly, the non-use of the word nigger. Because contrary to what most people think you don't have to use the word nigger to tell a black joke, any more than you have to use the word 'chink' to tell a Chinese joke, 'sandnigger' to tell an Arab joke, or 'kyke' to tell a Jew joke. In fact, using those words when you don't have to, dumbs down the joke in my opinion. Example:

Q. What's the difference between a motorcycle and a baby?
A. When the motorcycle is black, you can still show it to your parents.

Ha! Ha! Ha! As odd as it may sound, I don't consider that joke to be racist because the joke is still funny without having to resort to the blatant racism of the word nigger. I would hope that an educated, intelligent person understands the real humor comes not from a dislike for blacks, but from the (presumably) white person's hidden desire to accept black people in private but not in public. I can see an intelligent, educated person telling this joke without intent to offend anyone. Now let's make one small change...

Q. What's the difference between a motorcycle and a nigger baby?
A. When the motorcycle is black, you can still show it to your parents.

There, instantly the joke turns into the drunken blatherings of a slack-jawed ignorant redneck with a rebel flag flying on the back of his pickup truck. And for me, the ignorant undertone ruins the joke. Instead of laughing at a joke that has a lot potential, I find myself wondering what other skeletons this guy has in their closet. Now, on the flip side, there are some jokes that believe it or not, do require the word nigger to get the full punch. Again, example:

Q. What do you do if you wake up in the middle of the night and find your television floating?
A. Grab your gun and yell, "Drop it nigger!"

In order for that joke to work, you have to say it. You have to push it a little further and drop the N-bomb. Now granted, that may not be a joke I'd tell at an NAACP fund raiser, but it doesn't mean that the joke teller is racist, either. The joke simply doesn't work otherwise. Here, let's P.C. it up a bit:

Q. What do you do if you wake up in the middle of the night and find your television floating?
A. Grab your gun and yell, "Drop it AFRICAN AMERICAN!"

See, that's stupid. So boiling it all down, Just because one tells racist jokes, does not mean that one is racist. Why did I go through this whole speech? Because I received an email in response to this weekend's randoms:

At 01:14 PM 9/23/2007, Terrence wrote:
Dear Ernie, What do you think about black people?

From: Ernie
Uh nothing special. Same as me only I can see their bandaids. Why?

At 06:53 PM 9/23/2007, Terrence wrote:
No reason. I'm a black college student. I've been on your list since I was about 16 back in 2001 and I am about to graduate from [college name deleted] at the end of this semester. Sometimes, I think I take a few of your offenses too seriously. It's just good to hear some reaffirmation that jokes are jokes. Of course...I don't know why the hell I get so offended anyways....I always laugh at the next joke. Keep it up big guy. You take it easy and God bless, Terrence
PS...Is there anywhere to read the random offenses from back when the stick figures were going doggy style on the entry page?

And this struck me as odd because why after six years does he suddenly decide to write in and in no uncertain terms, try to find out if I'm racist. The jokes I sent out this weekend were actually pretty tame when compared to others I've sent out. And it took me reading over Saturdays's mailing three times before I finally caught it. One of the jokes went out like this:

Q. How many nigger college students does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A. Only one, but he gets six credits for it.

And then the lightbulb (ha!) went on. There's a perfect example of the completely unnecessary usage of the word nigger. And you know what Terrence, that was a complete and total mistake on my part. Part of my process in compiling the Random Offensives is to go through and remove all the 'niggers' and the "kykes' and the 'spics' if they don't contribute to the joke's delivery, and I missed that one. And I can tell you exactly how it happened. For the Q/A style jokes, I'm a little OCD in how they're written. I like it as "Q. xxxxx" and not "Q: xxxxx". I know it's trivial, but that's it's just something I've done since the first batch. So whenever a Q/A style joke comes in that is Random Offensive worthy, the very first thing I do is make sure there's a period after the Q and the A, and not a colon, semi-colin, or space. That joke came in with "Q. xxxx" and I was so happy I just copied and pasted it into the mailing without giving it any further thought. And I missed removing an unnecessary nigger and made myself look pretty ignorant. My bad.

But to build upon this, I do believe there are niggers out there. There are black people, and then there are niggers. There are white people and then there are white trash (there really is no word for white people with the offensive equivalient to 'nigger', is there? 'Cracker' just sounds stupid...). And there are Hispanics and then there are spics. The difference between all of them isn't the color of their skin, but how they show respect for themselves and others. Those people that are honest, hard working, respect others, and raise their children to do the same are black, white, and Hispanic. Those people that lie, cheat, steal, litter, and have a general disregard for their fellow man are niggers, white trash and spics. And before you ask, yes I'd rather have a black neighbor than a white trash one (but I'd lock my doors, hahaha).

Which to close out today's little gem, funny story. As an itty bitty Ernie, somewhere in the third or fourth grade, one of my best friend was Anthony Marshall. He was a black kid. When he'd come sleep at my houe, he was the only black kid in our entire neighborhood; when I slept over at his house, I was the only white kid in his. But that didn't stop us. We played Atari, we bowled, we but models; never once considering each other's skin color. Anthony had an older brother, I think he was like 16 or so at the time. During one of the overnight stays at their house, we got to playing Atari with his brother. A lot. And somehow it turned into a $1 per game bet. He and I went back and forth for several hours. Anxious to bring the contest to a close, we decided for a best-of-three contest for the whole enchilada - my entire $5 bankroll versus his. We each got to pick one game, and then the tie breaker would be something we'd mutually agree upon. He picked Bezerk since it was a game they owned and I didn't. Not surprisingly, he beat me. I chose River Raid because let me tell you folks, nobody fucking beat me at River Raid. And as expected, he didn't. So with the series tied 1:1, the contest came down to Chopper Command. It was their game so he was more familiar with it, but it was a game I just took to like a duck to water. And folks, I turned out to be a little white Chopper Command playin motherfucker. I beat his ass. I mean I tripled his fucking score. And when I was done I slammed down the joystick and scooped up my $10 pot just as pretty as you please. To a nine year old, that was big fucking cake, baby! Well apparently to a 16 year old, that's big cake too, because as soon as I scooped up the money up, he scooped up me. By my shirt collar. And lifted me off the ground, thrust me against the wall and demanded, "Gimme me fuckin money back." Which I did.

So later that day when my mom came to pick me up, I was of course crying when I came out to the car. "What's wrong?" she asks. And before I could even think about it I blurted out, "That nigger stole my money!"

Yeah, I didn't get to sleep at Anthony's house anymore.


ERNIE CAM

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