Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What's Up With That? #50: That chicken's a Rhode Island White

As if we needed one, here's another example of how racism makes people stupid.

Ralph Papitto, chair of the governing board of Roger Williams University and namesake of Rhode Island's only law school, has resigned after using the N-pejorative during a board discussion about recruiting minorities and women.

Papitto says that the offending word "kind of slipped out." In his own defense, the 80-year-old former executive says, "I apologized for that. What else can I do? Kill myself?"

Hey, Ralph: Don't let me stop you.

But here's the truly stupid part of the whole affair. Papitto claims that he had never used the N-word before. He also says, "The first time I heard it was on television, and then rap music or something."

Come on, Ralph. Just because you're a moron doesn't mean everyone else you encounter is similarly challenged.

Let's examine this realistically. A man who's lived in the United States for eight decades had to learn the N-word from a TV program and a rap record? Where's he been for the past 80 years, hermetically sealed in a soundproof room?

Actually, no.

In addition to having led a prestigious university and getting a law school named after him, Papitto founded a Fortune 500 company — Nortek, Incorporated, which manufactures air conditioning units, security systems, and other building products. Does that ring true to you? The man started and ran a huge business in the rough-and-tumble construction industry, and he never heard the N-word? Puh-leeze.

Words that don't comprise a portion of one's daily vocabulary don't "kind of slip out." I can't recall the last time random quantum physics terminology just tripped off my tongue willy-nilly. I doubt you can, either, unless you're either a quantum physicist or a sci-fi geek.

Besides which, how many 80-year-old men — white, black, or maroon — do you know who listen to rap music, much less pick up and toss around lingo from that genre?

I guess that venerable saying still holds water: There's no fool like an old fool.

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1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

I think the problem with apologies lately is that they seem to be thrown around rather freely. If someone says or does something wrong all they feel they need to do is apologize and it makes it all go away. Unfortunately they're often missing that there's a bigger issue at hand- the reason they thought it in the first place.

8:56 AM  

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