Including Audio Version by Jim Goad!
The Unpardonable Word
1,327 words / 9:27
I live in greater Atlanta, which ranks second only to New York City among all American metro areas in having the highest total number of blacks. Atlanta, though, has nearly twice as many blacks per capita as NYC. If New York is the Big Apple, Atlanta is the Big Watermelon.
During the summer of 2020, as race riots raged across the country while an insane media egged it all on, I remarked to a friend how there was nothing stopping some opportunistic descendant of slaves from walking up to me as I pumped gas at a local station, pointing their smartphone camera at me, pressing the RECORD button, and asking, “Why did you just call me a nigger?”
That’s not nearly as paranoid as it might sound. Back in the summer of 1996, when I lived in Portland, I was temporarily handcuffed after I elbowed a young black gent out of my rental car as he tried breaking into it by crawling in between me and the steering wheel while I was in the driver’s seat. He told police that the incident kicked off when I’d flung some unkind racial epithets his way. Thankfully, witnesses in the parking lot behind the skeevy bar where all this went down corroborated my side of the story, which is that I’d made no racially untoward comments toward him, and the police let me go.
That paranoia-inducing incident happened less than a year after O. J. Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman in what was then known as “The Trial of the Century.” Although most people might not put it as bluntly as I will, the main reason Simpson beat the rap was because his defense lawyers argued that he couldn’t possibly have been a murderer because Mark Fuhrman, the white police detective who says he found a glove at the crime scene with Simpson’s blood on it, had been caught on tape several years before the murders saying the word “nigger.”
Rumor has it that Johnnie Cochran, the black member of Simpson’s fabled “Dream Team” of defense lawyers, promised a hung jury if he could seat at least one black juror. They wound up with eight black jurors and a complete acquittal.
Christopher Darden, a black lawyer for the prosecution, attempted to exclude evidence of Fuhrman’s N-bombs, arguing it would prejudice the jurors:
If you allow Mr. Cochran to use this word and play the race card, the direction and focus of the case changes: It is a race case now. . . . It’s the filthiest, dirtiest, nastiest word in the English language. . . . It will do one thing. It will upset the black jurors. It will say, Whose side are you on, “the man” or “the brothers”? . . . There’s a mountain of evidence pointing to this man’s guilt, but when you mention that word to this jury, or any African-American, it blinds people. It’ll blind the jury. It’ll blind the truth. They won’t be able to discern what’s true and what’s not.
Darden couldn’t bring himself to say “nigger,” deferring to the namby-pamby “N-word.” I don’t recall Johnnie Cochran saying “nigger,” either. But in what was admittedly a brilliant move, white defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey said it multiple times over the course of about ten minutes as he mercilessly grilled Fuhrman over whether he’d uttered that unspeakable word at any point over the past ten years. Fuhrman denied saying it but was outed as a liar once the jury heard excerpts from the damning tapes.
According to NewsOne:
the move effectively put the detective on trial instead of Simpson as the jury, which consisted of eight Black [sic] people, watched intently. . . . The cross-examination of Fuhrman was also effectively the turning point in what had up until that point been a lopsided case in favor of the prosecution.
There wasn’t a wisp of evidence that Fuhrman had planted the bloody glove. But to a lopsidedly black jury, hearing a white lawyer repeatedly say the Unpardonable Word while watching a white detective lie under oath that he hadn’t said it was all they needed to let O. J. Simpson — at least in the eyes of most Americans — get away with murder
This past Monday in San Antonio, police say a 20-year-old black man named Jekierin Walker admitted to shooting and killing a 41-year-old white man named Stefan Volkmann. Walker, whom witnesses say had been panhandling at a gas station, apparently wasn’t so destitute that he couldn’t afford a handgun and several bullets.
“‘Your son was racist’: Murder suspect says dead man called him ‘n-word’ at San Antonio gas station,” reads the headline in a local Texas daily:
A man charged with murder Monday afternoon said the person killed in a deadly shooting earlier in the day called him the “n-word.”
“Your son was racist,” Jekierin Walker, 20, of Georgia, said as San Antonio police walked him past the media. He said he had no regrets.
Witnesses told police the victim began yelling racial slurs at Walker. That’s when Walker took out a gun and shot him multiple times. . . .
“Mr. Walker, what happened out there today?” asks a female voice as cops walk the handcuffed accused killer past the media. Walker responds, “Whole lotta racism.”
Police say that Walker has already admitted to the shooting. But they are also alleging that witnesses said Volkmann was “yelling racial slurs” at him before Walker shot him dead, so this might turn out to be another case where there’s a word that a jury finds to be worse than murder. Maybe he’ll plead down to manslaughter.
In May 2021 at a Dunkin’ doughnut store in Tampa, Florida, 27-year-old black manager Corey Pujols claimed that a 77-year-old white customer named Vonelle Cook called him a “nigger” twice — the second time after Pujols challenged him to say it again. Pujols socked Cook in the jaw with a right hook, causing him to fall and crack his head on the floor, resulting in a skull fracture, brain contusions, and death three days later. Pujols was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter, but in March of 2022, he accepted a plea bargain of felony battery and was — get this — sentenced to “two years of house arrest followed by three years of probation, as well as 200 hours of community service.”
One of the comments under the Washington Post story about Pujols’s sentencing was “Some things are equal to, if not worse, than violence.”
I would assume that this commenter believes that reportedly calling someone a “nigger” — and twice at that — is worse than punching the person who said it to death.
News reports about similar stories seem to imply a cause-and-effect dynamic between allegedly — heavy emphasis on that word, because in many if not most cases, there’s no proof beyond hearsay — dropping an N-bomb and getting yourself killed:
- Police say racial slur led to murder of Dothan businessman
- Police: Salamanca murder suspects say fight resulted from racial slur
It doesn’t matter that, at least for the time being in American jurisprudence, “Fighting words are not an excuse or defense for a retaliatory assault and battery.” Juries are composed of people who are too dumb to evade jury duty, so one shouldn’t expect them to grasp even basic legal concepts.
Take it from someone who got lucky and didn’t have to learn the hard way: If you’re not going to call a black person a racial slur, whether it’s in the parking lot behind a Portland bar or at a San Antonio gas station, make sure you have witnesses. Otherwise, you could wind up dead — and in a culture that has been brainwashed for decades to think there’s only one word that’s worse than murder, your killer might walk away with a slap on the wrist and a pat on the back.
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