03 September 2007

Another Victim of Political Correctness

One of these days I will post a longish piece on why I think that we have given certain words way too much power.

In particular, I think that using circumlocutions like "the N-word" as a substitute for a racial epithet is silly. Likewise, I think that any attempt to ban it (a la a New York City councilman's recent crusade) simply gives the word too much stature. This is arguable in terms of semantics and theology, but on an everyday sense, words have only as much power as the hearers invest them with. This pre-occupation with the N word - albeit a word with a sometimes painful and violent history - has made it one of the most powerful words in our culture.

There is another, more effective way to disarm a word: shamelessly mock its hateful uses. There was a classic movie that did that with the N-word. Unfortunately, political correctness has now ruined that movie, at least on basic cable.

On Saturday evening, the Country Music Television channel ran Mel Brook's brilliantly irreverent Blazing Saddles. But, in my opinion, when everybody, even Cleavon Little, has that pesky word deleted from the soundtrack, the movie loses much of its humor, and the racial tension the movie seeks to mock out of existence is strangely heightened.

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