So, I'm going to recount this story and hopefully I don't get some facts wrong, but here's the crux of it:
A meteorologist in NY referred to Martin Luther King Park on the air as "Martin Luther Coon Park". The station, after public pressure, fired him.
The meteorologist has apologized (sort of) and said that he was speaking so fast that he got his words mixed up.
Here's my question: could you ever speak so fast that you would substitute the word "coon" for the word "king" unless the word "coon" was already in your vocabulary?
Just sayin' - his explanation doesn't really work for me. There's no situation where, no matter how fast I was talking, where I would use the word "coon".
Probably not, I think the word was already in his vocabulary and just slipped out, and here's why I think that. I was a broadcaster for nearly 20 years before I became an editor of print media and then a legal editor. We used to joke around the station about some of the things weathercasters got their tongues tangled and said. One challenging phrase was "polar air mass". See where I'm going with this.
I went home after doing my daily weather casts one day only to be met by a neighbor who was laughing his head off at me. He asked me if I knew what I said in the six o'clock weather, and did I do it on purpose? I had no idea what I'd done.
He claimed that I had said "a big polar mare's ass was heading our way out of the north. I didn't say it on purpose. However the joke around the station was turning it into polar bear's ass, not polar mare's ass. So did I say it subconsciously because we'd been joking about it, or did I just get my tongue tangled? I don't know, but I don't think turning "King" into "Coon" can be attributed to a tongue twister like that.
I'll leave this here. Make of it what you will.
I'd have to hear the clip to see if it was clearly that word but my gut tells me the guy said it.
He doesn't deny he said it, but claims he just mixed up his words.
That said, Al Roker has come out to defend him, presumably saying that he understands how words can get mixed up.
To clarify, I think he probably said exactly what he said, because it is a term he is familiar with (i.e. the changed name). It reminds me of a lot of other name changes, used to reflect similar sentiments on public spaces or services. Although I think it is ridiculous to fire someone for something like that.
I strangely feel kind of bad for him.
However, do you think you would just accidentally blurt out the word "coon" like that? Instead of "king"?
No. It sounds to me like a local derogatory term. I'd say he probably uses it often enough for the slip to occur. The only comparison I can think of is MARTA I heard a guy from Atlanta share some years ago. If asked to explain what the acronym stood for quickly, he'd possiblysay that, instead of the accurate words and find himself fired for his effort.
So then the question becomes: are we going to fire people for being closet racists?
My answer is: I don't care. They're racists.
However, I think you also have to give people the chance to atone, apologize, and do the right thing, and be better.
I'm not sure this guy deserves to have his life ruined by the internet mob.
I agree. I don't even think I'd go so far as to call him racist. It is more along the lines of insensitive. In my book.
I'm assuming he uses the word "coon" sometimes. If you use the word "coon" then you're a racist in my book.
However, he could simply have relatives who use it. In other words, it's simply that he's exposed to the word in some way, not that it's in his active vocabulary. It could also be that he just randomly heard it somewhere and was thinking about it.
So, you think using such a term, in any situation, makes you racist? If so, every human being I've met is racist. That's every nationality and ethnic group I've run across. I've traveled extensively and met a lot of people.
So, if everyone everywhere is racist, by your standards, is racism a relevant term?
I am not attempting to make light of this. I think you've hit on an important issue. The term racism,to me, indicates hatred which must be addressed and eventually, hopefully, eradicated. I see the term, by your definition, as completely impossible to tackle. You are defining the simple act of offending some with a word choice, during a singular moment on record, as racism. If a word choice is racism which by current standards requires ostracism and unemployment, we'll all eventually find ourselves unemployed.
The left has no problem creating new words and demanding their usage. Perhaps, it's time for a new term for these particular moments. It would do much to alleviate confusion for those of us who are 'old school' hoping to find a stand which is fair to all parties in situations like this.
"In any situation". That's too broad and impossible to define. So I would say no in that case.
However, I would say that if you live in the United States and "coon" is a word you use with regularity to refer to black people, then you're a racist.
In this guy's case, it's entirely unclear if he uses the word. It does not seem like he does and would therefore does not fall into the category of "racist".
However, after I watched his interview with CNN, it is clear he falls into the category of "dumbass". I feel bad for him. It seems like he's not very smart and has fallen into the quicksand of social media vilification and cannot get out which, admittedly, is probably not easy.
Yep. The anonymity of the social media lynch mob makes for a formidable enemy, even if you aren't really their enemy. They don't seem to care who and what they ruin. They are like a frenzy of sharks. They scare the bejesus out of me.
I heard the recording of this, and it sounds to me like he was just speaking too quickly and tripped up on MLK's name. He was trying to say "Martin Luther King, Junior Park" and combined the K sound in "King" with the "oo" sound in "Junior." King + Junior = Kunior. He started to say "Kunior" but caught his mistake before he said the second syllable, and cut it short at "Kun," before quickly correcting himself.
I heard the recording on TV but surely the recording is all over the internet if anyone wants to take a listen. It sounded like an honest mistake to me.
That makes sense. Again, I think people should be able to apologize and move on in many situations, not have their lives ruined by the internet mob.
I actually listened to it for the first time and he clearly says the word "coon". Who knows why.
However, the dummy went on CNN and made things worse. First he tries to gaslight people who think they heard him say "coon" (buddy, did you listen to yourself?) and second he says that he "probably" hasn't ever said the word and at least not in the last twenty years.
I'd fire the guy right there for being a colossal dumbass. Dude, just say you're sorry, ask for a second chance, and move on.
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