Comedian gets the hook for using the N-Word

Comedian Gets the Hook for Using N-Word

Is this really the best way to go about things? Wouldn’t it be far better to take Lenny Bruce’s advice?

(Never realized until now that this is the routine that must have been in Michael Richard’s mind. Of course, that was an object lesson in how to turn comedy gold into racist crap.)

Of course - this isn’t a matter of general, overreaching policy, it’s a matter of who he was performing for. Black Enterprise magazine is somewhat conservative. Not protest affirmative-action and minority business set-asides conservative (AFAIK), but at least pro-business and black-people-shouldn’t-wear-dreads-in-the-office conservative. It was their unsurprising call. This is typical for all comedians doing corporate gigs. Check out some episodes of Katy Griffin’s reality show and how constant run-ins with prescribed off-limit topics and words.

EDIT: Black Enterprise is a business and finance magazine for a black audience for those who don’t know.

Well at least we can now put to rest the canard that blacks only complain when whites say nigger.

To the OP, without actually hearing what Griffin said, it’s gonna be hard to say whether his removal was an overreaction. But the organizers were well within their rights to reject the entertainer if they thought he was being too over the top. Especially if he was being over the top but not saying anything particularly funny. Which seems like a good possibility, given that the entertainer in question is Eddie Griffin.

I hope you forgot the comma after “audience.”

If he was at a comedy club, it would bother me somewhat. While businesses have the right to set rules and all that, I don’t think comedy should be censored that way, and I think the “bury the N-word protests” are goofy at best. But he wasn’t at a comedy club. I don’t know Griffin’s standup act, but that was pretty clearly wrong for that audience.

Is it possible that they “got the hook” because the guy wasn’t funny?

It could happen.


I used to work on a maintenance crew with some black guys, one of whom became a very good friend. We visited each other’s homes, we doubled dated, we gambled and drank together; we helped each other paint our houses and overhaul engines: We were damn good friends but I was always astonished at the way those guys threw the word nigger around. They called each other nigger; the called other black guys nigger; hell, they even referred to their children’s friends as little niggers. It never crossed my mind that I had the same privilege; I knew it would be disastrous for me to call anyone nigger. Still, I wondered then and still do how those black guys, at least, hoped to bury the word when they used it more often than any of my redneck buddies and that was saying a lot. I guess if the word is as offensive as is claimed, no one should use it, black and white alike. I expressed that sentiment to several of them once; suffice it to say the sentiment wasn’t appreciated: basically, it was okay for them but not for me. I still don’t understand it.

Maybe they just aren’t the smartest of guys. But what’s the point of transplanting their discussion here? None of us can answer for them.

Speaking of not very bright, why would the people from Black Enterprise hire, of all people, Eddie Griffin? And why would Eddie Griffin repeatedly use that word at, of all venues, an event sponsored by Black Enterprise? Seems like there was stupid enough to go around.

Soon after the Don Imus dustup, one of the promiment racial harmony groups held a mock funeral for the N word. They said it was time for everyone to stand together against the word’s use. For some people, that was a turning point, and maybe the ones running that show had decided to go with the new policy. Don’t say the word, don’t be the word.

It might just be crazy enough to work.

None of us can answer for Eddie Griffith. Or Black Enterprise. Yet here we are, discussing it.

What was it Jerry Lewis said on the telethon this weekend? Reported as “f*got”. But he was tired after striding back and forth all night trying to ad lib enough to keep people viewing. And by using a straight apology, and right away, he got away with it. It’s time the press just let the initial report be the end of the story. Not every off hand remark has to become a career defining moment.

IMHO, that kind of thing only promotes the use of the word. Who in the hell is anyone to tell me what kind of WORDS I can use (around adults)? That kind of protest will see backlash of the highest order.

What about a documentary about Jim Crow laws on the history channel? Should they bleep the word out, avoid it all together, or make it R-rated so kids can’t watch it?

A backlash from who, though? Racists won’t care about a prohibition like this, and most of the people who say “nigga” casually will just ignore it. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like the idea in the first place - racism is a lot bigger than one word.

We’re discussing their actions, we’re not attempting to extend their arguments as told to us with only vague details by someone who’s biased against one side in the first place. There’s not much to agree or disagree with in LouisB’s story. It was merely an anecdote about a bunch of black crew members he know who had a seemingly incongruous attitude about the n-word.

Was he not discussing their actions?
Who was biased against one side in the first place?

It will not work.

Groups specifically targeted and offended by a particular word should have the most say in whether its use is considerate and appropriate.

A proscription of any sort against words, however, simply elevates their status to weapons and diminishes the status of the group claiming offense. By their own definition such groups are weak enough to be hurt by a word. If you want to teach someone to be more powerful, teach them how to be insensitive. Don’t teach bullies which words hurt the most.

Words do hurt, certainly. Name-calling does hurt. Attempting to ban words simply increases their power.

Lenny Bruce is right.

If you are accusing me of being racially biased, I want you to know I deeply resent it.

My point maybe wasn’t clear but what I was trying to say is that IF a word is deeply offensive, why do the very people who are supposedly offended by it use that very word at all? I assure you that the black people I referred to as my friends are not, by any means, the only black people who use the word.

Wow. Eddie Griffin is a comedian?

I couldn’t tell from his standup and his movies. What’s up, Black Enterprise? Sinbad not available this year?

I really regret posting the above. I sincerely apologize and I hope my apology will be accepted.