The National Football League (NFL) competition committee is proposing that the league ban the use of the “N’ word and penalize any player caught saying the word during a football game. The proposal has brought about a lot of conversation on the subject, with both ESPN and an Atlanta sports radio station broadcasting “town hall” meetings dealing with the use of the word.
I usually listen to the sports radio station on my way home. One evening last week, the night time host was taking calls on the proposed NFL policy, and one caller stated that the policy would be racist, because the majority of the players and coaches in the NFL who use the “N” word are black, and it wouldn’t be fair to make them stop using the word.
I agreed with him, but took it a step further. I think the policy would also be prejudicial against white players and coaches. That’s because, if there are any exceptions to the use of the word, those exceptions would most definitely be spoken by black players and coaches. Any white player or coach who used the “N” word would automatically be penalized, because there is no circumstance where the use of that word by a white person is justified.
And while part of me thinks the NFL should not be trying to regulate what people can and can’t say, I think if they decided to go ahead with the policy, it should be made clear that no use of the “N” word or any of its slang offshoots will be allowed. There should be no gray areas. You can’t say the “N” word in the NFL, period.
I applaud the NFL for wanting to take a stand against use of such a derogatory term. While I will always stand and protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press, I sometimes wish the politicians in Washington would unite and take a stand against the use of the “N” word and a few other words: Thug, Cracker (in reference to white people, not food items), Monkey (when it is referencing a person and not an animal), and Honky. These words have no positive meaning in them, and in fact, the mere utterance of them is deplored by most people and an instant claim of racism by others when used. In just the past few weeks, both locally and nationally, uses of the words Thug and Monkey in referring to people were proclaimed as being racist.
Those words should not be used by anyone and should be banned, if not by the government, then by the people of the United States of America. Notice I said ‘anyone.’ If we are going to be equal, one race cannot use the “N” word freely, yet claim racism when another race uses the same word. That goes for the word “Honky” as well. As for “Thug,” “Monkey: and “Cracker,” those words need to be used as they were originally intended, and in no other way. A Thug is a criminal, no matter what color. A Monkey is an animal in the jungle or in the zoo, that’s all. A Cracker is something you eat with soup or put peanut butter on , or come in animal shapes and you eat them, nothing else.
If we want equality, words have to be colorless.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.