Monday, July 31, 2006

Massachusetts governor apologizes for 'tar baby' comment

Who uses a term like tar baby these days anyway? It seems like a fairly useful term once you go back and see what it actually means, and certainly would apply to the Big Dig. But much like I had never considered the "Eenie Meanie Minie Moe" rhyme as anything racist, I had never considered the term "tar baby" as anything but a racial slur until I found out its entymology after Tony Snow used it recently. So I have to wonder how a politician could be oblivious to the fact that it is used as a slur, and if he knows it's used that way why he wouldn't just avoid it.

However, having said that, I wonder why on earth anyone would be outraged by the term's use either. Clearly, there is no way what Romney said could be in anyway interpreted as a racial comment. He was obviously using the term a different way. So why would anyone be bothered by it? Some words have multiple meanings. I think getting upset by the term in this case actually hurts the cause of trying to eliminate it when it is used offensively.

Actually, though, I'd rather people just spend a lot less time being offended by the words of others. Particularly people they don't even know. If you want to be offended, you're not going to have a very hard time finding something to offend you. But just as the world would be a better place without people using offensive language in the first place, the world would be a better place without people who have nothing better to do than be offended all the time. I honestly can't think of a single thing that someone I don't know personally could do to offend me, and I don't understand why so many people give other people such power over their feelings.

Posted by

12 comments:

Toast said...

I had the opposite experience on this one. I had first heard the term used in an academic setting to refer to a sticky problem or situation which one did not want to get mixed up in. I had never heard it used as a racial slur. Maybe it's a regional thing?

John Howard said...

I think it might be, but either way, my point is the same. Romney probably should have realized people would misinterpret it. But people shouldn't be offended by it, since he obviously could not have in any way been talking about race.

Westley (random blog loser) said...

You sure have been offended often recently by other people being offended by words. Perhaps that's just as offensive as the other people being offended by words? Maybe you want to think on that some.

Where's Chris anyway? I like his blog entries better...even when he's proselytizing.

Storm said...

This all reminds me of another childhood rhyme.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

JRH this makes at least 2 times and possibly what 4 times in recent days that you actually made some sense.

Me4Prez said...

I did not know that about "Eenie Meanie Minie Moe" either. I knew about tar baby because one side of my family was less than friendly towards most minorities.

I don't think the use of tar baby in the way Romney did was offensive, just stupid. I don't even think you have to go out of your way not to offend, just that this was an easy headline to avoid.

John Howard said...

Westley, you don't make any sense, so I'll just ignore you. Chris is around somewhere.

John Howard said...

Storm, if you keep agreeing with me, I'll be forced to consider that you're not a complete moron.

somewaterytart said...

I totally agree! 'Tar baby' to me is an obvious racial slur (and how could he not have known that? What a moron...) and 'eenie meenie miny moe' I had no idea was racially charged.

But so what? So he said something careless, and it had a double meaning- he obviously didn't mean it that way. To say he didn't know it was a racial slur was lame, but whatever. People need to just get the fuck over it.

The Disgruntled Chemist said...

This is just like when some politician back east (mayor of DC, maybe?) got in trouble for using the word "niggardly" to refer to a plan to cut funding to something or other.

Because niggardly means cheap.

But it sounds like nigger, and people are fucking morons, so he got in trouble and had to apologize. I think I might have moved to DC (or wherever) just to vote for him if he'd refused to apologize because, well, he used the correct word.

People in this country suck ass.

puzzled said...

As a kid, I remember "eenie meenie minie moe, grab a nigger by the toe." Being innocent, we thought nothing of it. That was a long time ago, I'm 73. Ugh!! Thank God we've progressed somewhat.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!