Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are certain words illegal?

Today we have a story about an Obama pledged delegate to the Democratic convention being forced to step aside because she made comments that an easily offended neighbor decided was racist.
Moving to nip in the bud some potential bad press, White House hopeful Barack Obama's campaign persuaded a delegate to step down after she was ticketed for calling her neighbor's African-American children "monkeys." Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, a Carpentersville village trustee, was elected as an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She sports an Obama sign in her front yard.

On Saturday, two neighbor children were playing in the tree next-door to her house.
Ramirez-Sliwinski "came outside and told the children to quit playing in the tree like monkeys. The tree was not on Ramirez-Sliwinski's property," Carpentersville Police Commander Michael Kilbourne said. Ramirez-Sliwinski admitted she used the word "monkeys," but said she did not intend racism. She said she was only trying to protect them from falling out of the tree.

Aside from silly political element of this story it is disturbing from a couple angles. The part I bolded is what bothered me the most about this story. The lady was ticketed for saying the word monkey??? What happened to the right to free speech where we can have a city ticketing someone for using a word. Don't get me wrong. There are many words that are very offensive that decent people don't use. However, I don't believe we should ticket people for saying words that offend my (or your) sensibilities. Once we start stumbling down that road, who gets to decide what words cross the imaginary line? The idiot neighbor? This calls to mind the politician in DC who was forced to resign after using the word niggardly in a meeting. There is nothing racial about the word niggardly yet because the offended people were ignorant of the words meaning he ended up resigning.

Anecdotally, at our old house we had a tree with some low hanging branches strong enough for kids to climb. I worried a little that a kid would fall and smack their head on the exposed roots. I'm sure I told (okay, okay yelled at) various kids to get out of the tree before ya fall and break your neck. Didn't matter, if kids can reach the branches or a tree they will climb it. It's in their nature. And I'm sure the better climbers were compared to monkeys or squirrels regardless of race.


Blogger Ben said...

This is what happens in PC society that the democrats have advocated. The lady may have meant no ill will, but too bad for her.

April 9, 2008 at 3:45 PM


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