Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Code Words

Update: That's enough, trolls. Comments closed. See here for some rules if you feel like commenting elsewhere.

Finals and paper are behind me. I've moved to St. Louis and started work. Here's hoping blogging picks up.

Albert H. Nobles, an 18 year-old resident of north St. Louis County, was shot and killed near Fountain Park early Tuesday. Why is he dead? The proximate cause was two bullet wounds, but really no one knows for sure. No one, that is, except for jim63129:


Jim knows that walking in neighborhoods where black people live at times when he is not personally out and about is tantamount to signing your own death warrant.

But Jim's heartless assessment of the situation is not, by a long shot, the worst thing a racist had to say in the comment thread accompanying the sad article linked above.

sue_nokomis gets the Worst Person... In the Thread! Award for her racist drivel, currently the final comment in this traveshamockery of a thread inspired by the death of a child:


Never mind that her statistic, like 43.6% of all of statistics, is made up on the spot. Never mind that it is wildly inaccurate (something like 10% of young black men are in jail, a statistic that is frightening and awful, but not for the reasons Sue would say it is). What is outrageous and racist about her comment is that she uses the fact that 40% of black men are in jail as evidence that her racism is justified. Whatever outrageous percentage of young black men are in jail, they are there because of our society's authoritarian streak and its institutional racism. So Sue is using what sane people would recognize as evidence of racism to justify racism. Racists love circular reasoning.

Sue wins the thread. But what I would really like to do with this sad situation is to demonstrate that racist white folks have come up with a new word for "nigger." Obviously that word is not used in polite company, and I'm willing to bet the mods at delete any comments that contain it. So racists have to use a code, one that's broken so easily that even racists can figure it out. I'm sure there are plenty of words that substitute for the n-word in polite conversation among whites, but the one I want to focus on today is "thug." "Thug" pops up a lot in threads discussing black people who have committed crimes, black people who have been victims of crimes, or, really, any crime committed in a neighborhood perceived to be black.

Let's examine its use in this thread.

Conveniently, it pops up in the very first comment, from The Ark:


Go ahead and just throw a "nigger" in there in place of "thug." The meaning of the post hasn't changed at all. We broke your code, The Ark!

The word pops up again a little ways down, in a mostly unintelligible and completely insane post form ChinacatSunflower:


Who knows what on earth CS is getting at, but swapping the words in this one seems to change her tone. So chalk one use of "thug" up in the racially neutral category.

It doesn't really stay there for long, thanks to NotFromHere:


This comment in mostly incoherent, but "niggers don't spend enough time at a target range to be accurate" sure has a nice ring to it, and I think it's pretty much identical to the point NFH is trying to make. It at least sounds like the punchline of a joke at a Klan rally.

DLstl can't use the n-word while pretending to praise MLK, so goes with the t-word instead:


It really is sad that black people have only used the civil rights movement to enable themselves to act like a bunch of niggers.

RedRonin is participating in a debate about guns, which pop up in response to these "black kid gets shot" stories about as often as the racists do, which is to say every time:


I'll give his use of "thug" the benefit of the doubt and a score of racially neutral.

kedgman gives us a quote straight out Alabama in 1962:


"Some nigger gets cocky..." Goodness gracious. This guy is a one-man lynch mob. Which isn't to say that he doesn't have friends - he probably does, and that makes him even more scary.

Saving the best for last, chad_rn's comment, the last one (so far) to use "thug," takes the racist code word cake, and, honestly, gives sue_nokomis a run for her money:


So simple. So ineloquent. So obviously wishing he could say "nigger."

I wonder if there is a racist MSWord macro for making this type of substitution easy and automatic...