We assume most citizens have gotten past the point where they feel the need to refer to Huckleberry Finn’s companion as African-American Jim. But in politics there are no free speech safe zones, and prospective Kirsten Gillibrand opponent Carolyn Maloney has been chastised and forced to apologize for quoting somebody who used the word “nigger” in a City Hall News story. Maloney was swiftly hunted down by (Gillibrand supporter) Al Sharpton and others, and forced to acknowledge wrongspeak: “I apologize for having repeated a word I find disgusting,” she recited. “It’s no excuse but I was so caught up in relaying the story exactly as it was told to me that, in doing so, I repeated a word that should never be repeated.” In the opinion of Runnin’ Scared, this is f***ing bulls***.
In other hate speech news, Mayor Bloomberg said there was no point in negotiating any further with the state senators who did not pass the legislation he wanted, because “if you remember Neville Chamberlain, no matter how many times you said yes, that’s the starting point for the next round.” When told by a reporter that the senators were upset because they felt, quite logically, that the Mayor had compared them to Nazis, Bloomberg said, “I certainly did. What part of that did they not understand? This is ridiculous.”
We sometimes get the feeling that our politicians understand every use for language except communication, and view Orwell’s 1984 as a How-To book.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2009