The Inernet is aghast that twitterites exploded into vitriolic racism when Joel Ward scored the winning goal in the Boston/Washington series. I am not. To be aghast would be admitting that I could not believe that people would think the “n word” much less use it in public conversation. I live beside and work in Toronto, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the country if not the world. I hear those words, with their pejorative meanings fully intended, on the job site every day. People like to think that in 2012 we don’t use words like that. We do. And there does not look to be any end in sight. The excuse used to justify using these words is that rappers use them all the time. I’m not certain how that justifies terms other than the n word but that is the excuse.
What is probably a far more serious problem is that the people using these word know they shouldn’t be used. The words are said cautiously in new company and softly in public. Higher education seems to mitigate usage of these words but only to an certain extent. The further afield you go from the humanities the more likely you are to encounter them.
I’m not certain what we can do to stop this from happening. Legislating against this use of language has not worked. Condemnation in the media like we see over the Ward cars does not work. Perhaps we need and old-fashioned advertising campaign that lists these words and shows why they are hurtful. I remember growing up with anti-racism commercials brought to me by the government. It might be a good idea to show them again.