New York declared the n-word off limits to all races Wednesday in a purely symbolic resolution prompted by the common, casual use of the slur in hip-hop music, comedy and street slang.
“People are using it out of context,” said Leroy Comrie, a black city councilman who sponsored the unanimously passed measure. “People are also denigrating themselves by using the word, and disrespecting their history.”
New York’s resolution is not binding and merely calls on residents to stop using the slur. Leaders of the nation’s largest city also hope to set an example.
(h/t: alert reader hank k.)
I don’t care whether it’s symbolic or not. I think the measure is unconstitutional. Not to mention unwise.
It’s unwise because it’s unnecessary. If people use the disgusting, racist word “nigger” in an inappropriate manner, they should be shunned by polite society. We don’t need government to get involved.
It’s unconstititional because government can’t simply ban a word, without any regard for the context in which it is used. (Ever read Cohen v. California?) This particular word is not always a fighting word. I used it in the previous paragraph, in a way that no reasonable person would object to.
Exit question, as Allah likes to say: Can a teacher in New York City read aloud from “Huckleberry Finn” without fear of repercussions?