Monday, 27 November 2006

Apologies, Reparations and the Michael Richards Thing

Good post by Doug Stanhope about the Michael Richards affair, talking about something we’ve discussed – the fact that Richards isn’t a comedian and tried to pull off something he simply wasn’t capable of.

He also made a few good points about the ridiculous “power” of the word nigger. He is quite right to say that anyone who believes one particular word is somehow “worse” than any other is, as he puts it, an idiot.

Black people in America have been sold a bill of goods on “the n word”. Living in a country where the only thing going into black communities are drugs and army recruitment officers, black people have been denied an equal stake in society and have instead been palmed off with the “magic beans” of a taboo word no-one can call them.

It’s ironic that the people Richards abused are now seeking financial remuneration for the incident. They do so of course because they are nothing more than callow opportunists, seeking to profit from the oppression borne by their forefathers.

But money and lots of it should be exactly what the black community in America are demanding. Not in some reparatory gesture of apology or guilt but simply as a matter of common sense, decency and necessity. It is imperative to America’s very survival that the endemic practice of simply writing off generations of people to poverty, crime and drug abuse are ended sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the cancer of the ghetto will eventually destroy the whole nation.

We have our own race debate here of course, with the bi-centenary of the abolition of slavery coming up next year.

There have been faint stirrings of discontent following the Prime Minister’s “expression of deep regret” regarding the slave trade with some calling for a formal apology.

Really, what’s the point? Weak point-scoring by the loony left it may be, but it’s a perfect illustration of the calibre of politician we have at our disposal these days, people concerned more with posturing than delivering genuine improvement in peoples lives.

Besides, surely asking someone to apologise for something they are not responsible for simply because they are the same colour as those who centuries before enslaved black people is in itself racist.

You’d think the abolition commemorations would be an issue we could all get on board with and plan a meaningful, united and reflective series of events around.

The bi-centennial should be a measure of how far we have come and a time to discuss what remains to be done, not grist for political opportunists.

Of course the Government can’t apologise for a historical wrong, otherwise they’d never have time to do anything. They’d be too busy apologising for those who died securing the right to vote, to women, for continuing to deny that right until 1918, for setting the police on the working classes in the 80’s, for the poll tax and for prosecuting a hugely expensive, un-winnable racist war in the Middle East.

Hmm. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all…


Anonymous said...

Stanhope says that calling a comedian who isnt funny is worse than calling a black man a Nigger, because he is a comedian and has no knowledge of being black.Maybe he should keep his half-arsed comments to himself then.His argument in that piece is pathetic and i've lost a lot of respect for him.

Fraser said...

It's good advice. Half arsed comments should be kept to oneself.

Anonymous said...

Was that a wee dig at my half-arsed comment?;)

Fraser said...

Read what he said again Neck. He's just talking about how you can't really relate to experiences you've never had.

Anonymous said...

I've read it twice.I though his opinion was very muddied and couldnt work out whether he was making a genuine point or being sneerily controversial.If the latter-fair does.If the former-he can get to fuck.That word is still potent,and equating it with calling a comedian "unfunny" is unbelievable.At the end of the day,Richards made an unprovoked racist comment and thats unforgiveable.The same goes for Mel Gibson.Theres no defence.

Fraser said...

There is certainly no defence for Mel Gibson.

I agree that Richards has to take whatever is coming. I also agree that racially abusing someone is pretty pathetic.

But this is far from a cut and dried incident, especially when you consider that the guys he shouted at are using the furore to make some cash. How offended were they really? Not enough to miss a hussle it would seem.

My point is this is ALL bullshit, and worse, bullshit that masks and detracts from real issues of race. It's all part of the mesmeric circus.

The power of the word nigger is the Emperors new clothes, it's peer pressure. The power of the word is a construct, a contrivance. I'm not saying that the word is not genuinely offensive to people, simply that people shouldn't be offended by it BECAUSE ITS A FUCKING WORD. Not a bomb or a gun or even a flaming cross, a word.

Like I said, black people have been sold "the n word" in lue of something tangible, like a genuine stake in American society.

Anonymous said...

I agree.You make your point far better than Stanhope.By the way,take a look at The A.V Club article on 2nd-rate comedians using the incident to bump their profile up.Shameless.

Fraser said...

I know Neck, that's disgusting.

Tom said...

Here's the link to it. The story runs alongside a flash advert for Seinfeld season 7.

Anonymous said...

Im intrigued by one thing.Will Hollywood forgive Gibson and Richards?They forgave Victor Salva,the director..and he had done time for child molestation.They forgave directors have a better deal with Industry forgiveness?

Tom said...

I think Gibson will get on all right, but it will be hard to tell about Richards. He didn't have much of a career in the first place, that's how he's ended up in this position.

If he had a steady TV gig or the odd movie, he wouldn't be doing comedy clubs. It's difficult to say if this will end his career or relaunch him.

Certainly there will be many folk who will want nothing to do with him, but if the right folk (Sharpton, Rev. Jackson) say, 'He's okay now, he's said sorry enough times' he might get some work offers.

H. Lewis Smith said...


Los Angeles, CA., - Author H. Lewis Smith has written a thought provoking, culturally divided book that will not only spark heated conversation, but can also bring about real change. The N-word is often used in the African American community amongst each other and is generally not a problem when spoken by another African American. However, once the word is used by a Caucasian person, it brings on other effects. The question is "who can use the word and why?" Smith believes it is a word that should be BURIED!!!!

The book is written in a manner that all can understand. The points are well-taken and the wording is easy to follow. There are quotes from great people in our history including Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, James Baldwin and many, many others. Smith has mixed history with honesty, love with life, education with effects. This is a great book for educators, parents, managers, professionals, newsmen, and anyone else wanting an in-depth look at the N-word, the effects and the solutions. A MUST READ!!!!

To learn more about Bury that Sucka, please visit

Fraser said...

Thanks H! After discussing how pathetic trying to profit from this incident is, I'm really in the mood to rush out and spend a few quid on a book by some idiot who wants to ban a word! What the race debate really needs is more books offering trite, pie-in-the-sky solutions to genuine problems! Cheers for highlighting this great opportunity to be fleeced by a goober!