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Old 01-08-2019, 12:19 PM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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Weatherman fired for uttering a racial slur on air

A TV weatherman in Rochester, NY was fired on Sunday for uttering a racial slur on live TV last Friday:
https://heavy.com/news/2019/01/jeremy-kappell/

Here's a low-quality cell-phone video of the incident:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSimVJ4vYDA

It's pretty subtle. To my ear it doesn't even sound like the "oo" of "coon," it sounds more the "oo" of "book." IOW, it's consistent with him tripping over his own tongue (comingling "King" and "Junior"), rather than deliberately and maliciously sneaking in a racial slur. According to the station, they didn't even notice it until it was brought to their attention two days later, which is why it took that long to take action. That action was to heed the calls from activists for "real consequences for the news personality involved." In other words, destroy his career.

A video posted by Kappell (the weatherman) in response to it all:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhX1TUeSg_w

ISTM he's been crucified for no good reason. There are plenty of actual racist assholes out there, but it sure doesn't seem to me like this weatherman is one of them.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:26 PM
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It's clear to my ears that he said "Martin Luther coon"
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:28 PM
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I remember that one from back in the day, along with "Martin Lucifer Coon".
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:36 PM
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It's just a slip of the tongue that's easy to do when you mix up King and Junior and it's also not the first time it's happened to a news anchor. Sucks for him I guess, we should give people the benefit of the doubt if there is no further evidence to believe it was said on purpose.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:37 PM
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It's clear to my ears that he said "Martin Luther coon"
I heard "Martin Luther Kun—King Junior."

I.e. We couldn't have heard the spelling, of course, but what I heard sure sounded to me like he got his tangue toungled and mashed up "King" and "Junior," and immediately corrected himself.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:41 PM
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And to the two people quoted near the end of the OP's linked article saying "That was not a mistake": How the hell do you know that?
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:48 PM
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It could have been a genuine mistake. He was speaking quickly because they only allocate a few minutes for the weather.

Imho a profuse apology should have been sufficient.

Unless there's solid evidence the weather guy has used that slur off camera.

Last edited by aceplace57; 01-08-2019 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:48 PM
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Seems like an honest slip of the tongue to me. I've had this problem before where my mind will combine two words into one because of thinking of two things simultaneously - "bad" and "beer" might become "beed", or "cook" and "back" might become "cak," if speaking under stress or without ability to think beforehand about what to say.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:56 PM
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And to the two people quoted near the end of the OP's linked article saying "That was not a mistake": How the hell do you know that?
Maybe they know him and what kind of person he is.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:57 PM
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This sort of thing strikes me as being akin to calling someone racist because they mispronounce Obama as Osama. (which is something that Jennifer Lawrence, an Obama supporter herself, once did by mistake on TV.)
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:12 PM
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Maybe they know him and what kind of person he is.
One of them is a person from Florida. The other is from some sort of grassroots activist organization twitter account, which is local. The meteorologist has only been there since October '17.
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:29 PM
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Could have been a slip of the tongue. I have slipped the wrong word in on occasion. Unless the guy has a history, I would let it slide.
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:42 PM
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Mount Saint Molehill. Poor guy.

There is a newscaster in Reno that garbles her words so bad and so often, I would swear she is having a stroke, live on the air. Can we get her fired?
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:52 PM
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So is the theory that he was trying to get fired? That's the only possible way it would make sense for it to have been intentional.
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Old 01-08-2019, 02:25 PM
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Makes me think of the time some politician called Barney Frank "Barney Fag" on-camera. That one wasn't a tangling of the tounge, but accidentally saying what he normally said when the cameras were off. (Never mind the gay mountain climber.)
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Old 01-08-2019, 02:50 PM
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I don't know the background but people whose job it is to talk make stumbles all the time and the results are usually random garbled sounds or words. This was a random garbled word that sounded like "coon". No reason to fire him but it might have warranted an apology.

See also BEANER appearing in the NY Times crossword recently.
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Old 01-08-2019, 03:06 PM
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The question is not whether he intentionally called him Martin Luther Coon. It's whether he slipped up on the word, or accidentally let slip a word he uses in private.

My take is that there is not enough info from the clip to make that determination. What would be useful is looking at other bits of his history. If there is nothing, this would just be something to note in case he winds up doing something bad later.

However, I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon of assuming that there is no more information. And I'm not going to automatically condemn those who want a zero-tolerance policy. I need info on how often this sort of thing happens.

But, for me, it seems like an overreaction, given the info we currently have.

I'll also point out I here koong, not koon. N and NG are two different consonant sounds. There is no N sound before you say the NG sound. But I'm not sure if that means anything.

Last edited by BigT; 01-08-2019 at 03:08 PM.
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Old 01-08-2019, 05:01 PM
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I heard Martin Luther Coon, too, but it very well could have been an innocent mistake and he deserved the benefit of the doubt. Geesh, this country has gone bananas these days.
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Old 01-08-2019, 07:57 PM
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People who are paid to be understood may be fired when they screw up their speech. I wouldn't worry about this guy. I'm sure he'll land somewhere else. I'm also totally convinced that it was unintentional and that he's really sorry.

Note that I think we as a society are somehow being primed to be angry and to take all possible offense at everything. I have no idea who this priming would benefit, but it feels like it's happening.
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:29 PM
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I hear "yanny."
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:55 PM
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I heard a slip-up. I quite often get tongue-tangled myself, so it is absolutely feasible in my mind.

(there's a hymn at my church that has a phrase "angles prostrate on the ground" and I tremble in fear as that phrase approaches, knowing I'm going to accidentally say "prostate", and ... I end up saying "prostate" out of nervousness...it's good I'm the bass player and not the worship leader.)

In some jobs a small mistake like neglecting to extend the wing flaps on takeoff can have catastrophic consequences, so there is absolutely no room for slip-ups.

In some media events, an accidentally uttered phrase can have wide ranging consequences, and one can imagine being punished appropriately for whatever mayhem one causes.

This is not one of those.

It was merely one of those awful moments that we see so many of on YouTube where weather reporters say "Fire F***" instead of "Fire Truck" or other such mistakes.
Unless evidence comes forth that "that's the kind of guy he is" it just doesn't make sense that he would intentionally throw away his career in such a stupid manner.
Without solid evidence, as a society we opt for giving the benefit of the doubt. Did he have the intent? The mens rea? How could we know the answer to that with such a short clip?

Unfortunately, the mayor did not feel that way and she demanded his termination without any evidence one way or another.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:37 PM
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I hear "yanny."
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:13 AM
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God, has anyone spent 10 minuted watching news anchor blooper YouTube videos? People stumble in their words all the damn time. Especially on teleprompters. Unless they know something we don't this firing is a disgrace.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:16 AM
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(there's a hymn at my church that has a phrase "angles prostrate on the ground" and I tremble in fear as that phrase approaches, knowing I'm going to accidentally say "prostate", and ... I end up saying "prostate" out of nervousness...it's good I'm the bass player and not the worship leader.)
"angles" ?
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:21 AM
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"angles" ?
Ugh. Now I have another word I'll trip up. I think I'll just lipsync whenever that hymn comes up.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:29 AM
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Yeah, without any further evidence, this firing seems stupid to me.

And do people still really use the word "coon" these days? I've had a number of people in my friends and family use openly racist terms, but that word just sounds so "old-timey" to my ears.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:40 AM
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Yeah, without any further evidence, this firing seems stupid to me.

And do people still really use the word "coon" these days? I've had a number of people in my friends and family use openly racist terms, but that word just sounds so "old-timey" to my ears.
Yeah, the combination of this is what makes me want to give this person another chance. Unlike some slurs, there aren't a whole bunch of people who are itching for an excuse to say this. I've never personally seen it used in the wild in my lifetime, unlike those other more popular words.

Last edited by Ludovic; 01-09-2019 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:41 AM
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So is the theory that he was trying to get fired? That's the only possible way it would make sense for it to have been intentional.
Exactly! Who would say that intentionally?!

These people need to settle down. Things are getting ridiculous.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:08 AM
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there's a hymn at my church that has a phrase "angels prostrate on the ground" and I tremble in fear as that phrase approaches, knowing I'm going to accidentally say "prostate", and ... I end up saying "prostate" out of nervousness..

A pastor at my church said exactly that on stage one day - prostate instead of prostrate.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:09 AM
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The BBC has a weatherman, Tomasz Schafernaker, who got caught on camera giving the finger to one of the news presenters (they had been bantering and the weather guy was off camera...until they suddenly cut to him for the weather). He didn't get fired but boy howdy did he get mocked. He subsequently was "removed" from BBC television four years later during cutbacks in the number of presenters they use but still works for the Met and does BBC radio broadcasts.

Schafernaker also had to leave the radio studio abruptly in the middle of the morning Shipping Forecast to puke back in 2016. The man's had an interesting career, and is apparently the nation's favourite weather presenter.

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Old 01-09-2019, 11:35 AM
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That's a not a slip you make on-air unless you have been comfortable saying the term often off-air. i don't buy his excuse at all.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:37 AM
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Yeah, without any further evidence, this firing seems stupid to me.

And do people still really use the word "coon" these days? I've had a number of people in my friends and family use openly racist terms, but that word just sounds so "old-timey" to my ears.
It doesn't take much online exploring to see that "Martin Luther Coon" is still a very popular phrase used for humorous effect among racist idiots.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:41 AM
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It doesn't take much online exploring to see that "Martin Luther Coon" is still a very popular phrase used for humorous effect among racist idiots.
Huh... looks like my racist idiots aren't clever enough to come up with that.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:44 AM
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I think if your job is to speak publicly on television, one of the first things you should master is not accidently uttering racial slurs.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:47 AM
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At a broader level, this incident sends a bad message to society at large. It basically says that even if you don't have a racist bone in your body, you can be punished for an innocent, all-but-impossible-to-prevent slip of the tongue just as if you were a genuine real racist. It would be like accusing someone of sexual harassment for mispronouncing "checks" as "chicks" or "slats" as "sluts."


An integral part of "wrongdoing must be punished" justice is the principle that only wrongdoing should be punished. If innocent mistakes are punished just like deliberate wrongdoing, that's injustice.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:48 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is offline
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I think if your job is to speak publicly on television, one of the first things you should master is not accidently uttering racial slurs.
You'd think so, but one trip to Youtube and you'll find compilations of newscasters Spoonerizing and fucking up all sorts of phrases unintentionally on live TV. "Keep fucking that chicken" being perhaps the most well-known (though that one I don't know to this day if it was supposed to be "plucking that chicken" and it came out wrong, or he just had a momentary loss of sense of place or what.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-09-2019 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:52 AM
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That's a not a slip you make on-air unless you have been comfortable saying the term often off-air. i don't buy his excuse at all.
Uh-huh. And I'm sure ALL these anchors talk like this off the air, all the time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJhhFe9EqOo

I mean, look at these people, men and women, saying penis and cock on air. OBVIOUSLY this is spillover from their bedroom proclivities.

Last edited by Ashtura; 01-09-2019 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:42 PM
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Oh god thanks for that clip, that was too funny, it made my whole day!
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Old 01-09-2019, 01:02 PM
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At a broader level, this incident sends a bad message to society at large. It basically says that even if you don't have a racist bone in your body, you can be punished for an innocent, all-but-impossible-to-prevent slip of the tongue just as if you were a genuine real racist. It would be like accusing someone of sexual harassment for mispronouncing "checks" as "chicks" or "slats" as "sluts."


An integral part of "wrongdoing must be punished" justice is the principle that only wrongdoing should be punished. If innocent mistakes are punished just like deliberate wrongdoing, that's injustice.
I can't say what was in his mind at the time. But I would like to point out that racists have for a very long time relied on "the benefit of the doubt" to make little digs at people they are prejudiced against, even "by accident." Privileged people (including myself) may be unaware of it, but there's a history of racist dog-whistles where someone makes a slip similar to this one and then issues an insincere "Sorry if I have offended anyone" disclaimer while any racists overhearing are chanting "One of us, one of us!" in their minds. In the past, society would give them a pass for this...while the insulted minorities knew exactly what was intended but could only seethe impotently because the rest of us could hide behind "doubt whether any harm was intended" to avoid taking a stand.

That doesn't NECESSARILY mean this guy intended that. I am just saying that the people complaining are not doing so in a vacuum where this merely sounded like an insult. They are keenly aware of a long history of bad people doing this on purpose and smugly getting away with it.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:10 PM
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Exactly! Who would say that intentionally?!

Someone failing at code-switching.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:21 PM
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Yeah, I bet members of the KKK (of which this guy is clearly a member) work "Martin Luther Coon" into every conversation they can. It's their "That's what she said".
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:24 PM
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Yeah, I bet members of the KKK (of which this guy is clearly a member) work "Martin Luther Coon" into every conversation they can. It's their "That's what she said".

No, just into every mention of Martin Luther King.
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:39 PM
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I can't say what was in his mind at the time. But I would like to point out that racists have for a very long time relied on "the benefit of the doubt" to make little digs at people they are prejudiced against, even "by accident." Privileged people (including myself) may be unaware of it, but there's a history of racist dog-whistles where someone makes a slip similar to this one and then issues an insincere "Sorry if I have offended anyone" disclaimer while any racists overhearing are chanting "One of us, one of us!" in their minds. In the past, society would give them a pass for this...while the insulted minorities knew exactly what was intended but could only seethe impotently because the rest of us could hide behind "doubt whether any harm was intended" to avoid taking a stand.

That doesn't NECESSARILY mean this guy intended that. I am just saying that the people complaining are not doing so in a vacuum where this merely sounded like an insult. They are keenly aware of a long history of bad people doing this on purpose and smugly getting away with it.
I understand you're trying to add 'nuance', but basically, people will either get punished for what are very likely unintentional slips, and very unlikely to be proven otherwise, or they won't. That's the practical reality. History lessons and virtue signalling by calling yourself 'privileged' doesn't really change that practical reality.

I find it amazing there would be any disputing, even looking for a little wiggle room, that firing this guy was ridiculous, which it obviously was.

Based on the evidence presented, and it stands to reason that if there was really anything else to it, that would have been made clear.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:55 PM
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You'd think so, but one trip to Youtube and you'll find compilations of newscasters Spoonerizing and fucking up all sorts of phrases unintentionally on live TV. "Keep fucking that chicken" being perhaps the most well-known (though that one I don't know to this day if it was supposed to be "plucking that chicken" and it came out wrong, or he just had a momentary loss of sense of place or what.)
Go fuck yourself San Diego.
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:04 PM
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OK, let's take this a little further. Let's say all racists, or anyone who ever says anything that could be even remotely construed as racist, should immediately be terminated from their jobs.

What then would be the cost to society in additional unemployment compensation, food stamps, welfare payments, etc.?
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:30 PM
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That's a not a slip you make on-air unless you have been comfortable saying the term often off-air. i don't buy his excuse at all.
Worst case scenario, let's say he's a secret racist who has used the term off-air. What are they worried he's going to do, forecast the weather inaccurately for black neighborhoods?
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Old 01-09-2019, 07:33 PM
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I understand you're trying to add 'nuance', but basically, people will either get punished for what are very likely unintentional slips, and very unlikely to be proven otherwise, or they won't. That's the practical reality. History lessons and virtue signalling by calling yourself 'privileged' doesn't really change that practical reality.

I find it amazing there would be any disputing, even looking for a little wiggle room, that firing this guy was ridiculous, which it obviously was.

Based on the evidence presented, and it stands to reason that if there was really anything else to it, that would have been made clear.
Virtue signaling is not a real thing. It is a snarl word coined by conservatives in an attempt to circumvent having to prove that their position was moral and their opponent's was immoral. That way, any time a liberal made an appeal to morality, they would simply call it virtue signaling.

There are actually a lot of such snarl words in conservative discourse. SJW and PC are common. All describe things that a moral person would inherently do, and thus serves as a way to attack them and avoid having to prove them wrong.

In this case, it is being used to ignore nuance. Nuance is important. It is important that we look at the situation from not only the position of the person who got fired, but also from those who wanted him fired. You cannot come to a proper conclusion if you just have the facts from the defense and not from the prosecution.

It is entirely true that racist people will use excuses like "I just stumbled over my words" to cover things up. It's entirely possible that this guy's excuse is a lie--that he is used to saying Marten Luther Coon like the KKK does, and slipped up on air.

Thing is, I still wind up on your side, despite acknowledging this. The clip is not definitive, and so the only evidence we can use is his past history. A slip-up is in this case a valid explanation, and a likely one. It makes more sense to simply count this as a demerit and let him stay on, but be watchful of any other signs of racism.

That is, of course, assuming there's no past history that we're not being told about. In that case, this could be the final straw.

That is a nuanced position, and it does not mean I'm "virtue signaling" to state it. I wouldn't even be "virtue signaling" if I fell on the other side. It would just be an argument you disagreed with.
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Old 01-09-2019, 07:37 PM
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They're worried people will boycott their station. There's not enough information to say whether he's never used the slur in his life, or if he slipped up and used his private name for the park in public.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
OK, let's take this a little further. Let's say all racists, or anyone who ever says anything that could be even remotely construed as racist, should immediately be terminated from their jobs.

What then would be the cost to society in additional unemployment compensation, food stamps, welfare payments, etc.?
I don't find monetary arguments in situations like these to be useful. It is very often the case that the right thing costs more money, or the wrong thing could save money.

I also think you misunderstand. When I (and I presume others) say "zero tolerance," I don't mean "anyone who ever says anything that could be even remotely construed as racist should be immediately fired from their jobs." I'm referring to just saying certain words that are known to be slurs, even on accident.

And when I say "saying even on accident," I mean "uttering the phonemes in order that would construct a slur in a context where said meaning would fit, but another meaning would not." It's rather restrictive. Another example might be making the sounds of "fag" when talking about a gay person.

I do think we still have to consider legitimate tongue mishaps. But I can understand those who say "No. Maybe it was just a slip of the tongue, but if we allow the slip of the tongue, then we let the actual racists get away with it.

And, to answer Vinyl Turnip, if someone actually is a racist, then the harm is that they are normalizing racism. They just said something racist on national TV. They just black people know that they can still get away with being racist and there's nothing they can do about it.

Things don't ever stay steady. If you aren't fighting racism, then it will creep back in. Stopping any sort of bigotry requires a level of eternal vigilance. Because human beings are all naturally bigoted bastards. It's our tribalist nature.

Still don't misinterpret this as me defending the guy's firing. Absent other incidents, I think he should have just gotten a mark to watch him more closely in the future. He should have to publicly apologize on air, saying that, while he slipped on his words, he knows that such language is very hurtful, and that he's genuinely sorry and would strive to never say anything like that again.

I do have to worry that overreaching creates a negative stereotype of liberals, making our fight against racism harder. I wonder how many people will bring this guy up any time someone makes a legitimate argument. We have to be extra careful of making a mistake when it comes to punishing racism, for the good of the cause.
  #50  
Old 01-09-2019, 10:12 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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Al Roker has offered Kappell his support.

I hope another tv station offers Kappell a job. He deserves another chance imho.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn...ist/index.html
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