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Opening Arguments

The "P" word

For the "What you see depends on where you stand" file:

Gordon Brown today described as "unacceptable" the moment when Prince Harry zoomed his camcorder in on the face of a fellow Sandhurst cadet and mused: "Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed".

But the Prime Minister predicted that the British public would give the prince the benefit of the doubt over his use of racist language in the 2006 home video.

[. . .]

St James Palace has issued a statement of apology on the prince's behalf, saying that Harry fully understood how offensive the word Paki could be and was extremely sorry for any offence caused.

"Paki" is a slur -- who knew? What is offensive depends on the collective experience of those doing the talking and those doing the listening. If everybody in a certain time and place understands that a certain word or phrase is meant to be insulting, then using it is insulting. No "benefit of the doubt" of the kind being sought for Prince Harry can erase that.

One commenter made the interesting point that the word presumably isn't in the same category as the "n" word, "which newspapers would not print in their headlines." Again, that's a matter of perspective. This newspaper once put "hillbilly" in a headline, used in a casual way to describe a group of people, with no irony intended. The editor was genuinely puzzled when I went ballistic.


Bob G.
Mon, 01/12/2009 - 10:44am

Perhaps something a tad more innocuous and more generalized...like "camel jockey"???

This hyper-sensitivity to words is averting our attention to much larger problems in the world, don't you think?
Maybe the AMA can come up with a "syndrome" to name it after...that way we can get doctors' notes excusing us from those OTHER things we seem to dislike...like work.

"Sticks and Stones", people...

tim zank
Mon, 01/12/2009 - 11:06am

There's a whole lotta thin-skinned arsewipes out there whom are held in high esteem. That's a damn shame.