Eenie, meenie, minie, moe...

Catch a…what? the toe.

I had always known it to be “tiger.”
Doing a little research, I discovered that in a little rascals show, they once used the word “patient.”

But, until today, I had never ever heard the word “nigger” used in that slot.
Apparently this is how it was originally sung. Eenie Meenie Miney Mo, catch a nigger by his toe.
How many of you knew that? I certainly didn’t. I never would have fathomed it. It was always “tiger” to me. Always. We sung it as kids. Hell, we were encouraged to sing it as a way of helping to resolve disputes.

But the rhyme itself has caused its own dispute.

The article reads like a Torts exam question from the most world’s most sadistical professor. The fact patern just gets so downright bizarre, your first thought is to kill whomever thought it up so you don’t actually have to answer the question.

Basically, two women were late to get on a Southwest flight and had trouble finding seats. The flight attendant gets on the intercom and says “Eenie, meenie, minie, moe; pick a seat, we gotta go.”
The women, who were black, felt that this alluded to a racist rhyme and decided to sue for emotional and physical damages.
What I gave is merely a summary, but you’ll probably have to read the full article to get the big picture.

Sooooo…are they too sensitive? Do they have a legitimate claim here? A little of both?

Well, I’ve always felt people should only be held responsible for things they actually say. That sounded, to me, like something the attendant probably thought of at some time and used every time a group of people borded late. There could be testimony given on that issue. In fact, upon further review,

To me it sounds frivilous - absent some compelling new facts.

Eh? In anycase sounds like another frivolous lawsuite.

She suffers from epilepsy, her hands started shaking on the flight and she has a seizure that night. BUT, since she had no medical insurance, she didn’t go to a doctor.
As I said, the fact pattern just gets weirder and weirder.

Is it frivilous? The lawyer is doing it for no money. Their main concerns seem to be injunctions and education, not compensation. If they were asking for a million each, surely that would have shown up in the article, right?
So what they want doesn’t seem unreasonable. I don’t think that validates the lawsuit, though.

The plaintiffs are way out of line, as far as I’m concerned, but yeah, until the mid to late 1960s, the phrase was “catch a nigger by the toe, if he hollers, let him go.”

Some time around 1969-1972, Morrie Turner’s Wee Pals ran a strip in which the kids decided to play tag or hide-and-seek. One of the girls goes to pick who would be “it” by reciting “Eenie, meenie, miney, moe,” at which point the primary black character (name long forgotten) walks off saying, “I don’t want to play this game.”

Since that time, nigger was replaced by tiger or the rhyme was suppressed. I’m not surprised that someone born after the 1960s would be unaware of the original version.

Ender, I grew up in the Deep South and definitely learned the “n-word” version originally - re-learned it as the “tiger” version in the first grade, I think. This was before the Civil Rights Movement (giving away my age, there).

I have no idea if the ugly version was unique to the southern US of those times or not, but that may explain why some people have heard it and some not. Could also have something to do with age - I’m sure the usage of the “n-word” version decreased drastically after about 1965 (at least I would hope so!). But that was certainly the ‘common’ version of that time and location, and apparently it was pretty old, as my dad knew it from when he was a kid.

On preview, I see Tom~ has said pretty much the same thing.

Just to muddy the waters a bit, I remember hearing “catch an Eskimo by the toe”, which isn’t much better, but at least Eskimo is not offensive on its face.

I’d heard it growing up in northern Illinois in the early 80’s, so I don’t think it’s as limited in time/place as one might suspect. It was rarely said, however, as most kids I knew feared the wrath of their parents if they were caught saying that word. The “tiger” variant was far more popular, naturally. I suspect the only reason we heard it with the n-word a few times was that at least one kid must have been taught it by his parents.

Anyways, this lawsuit is ridiculous. Even if they aren’t looking for damages, it’s going to be costly. The connection is sooooooooo far removed that I just don’t see the point in suing.

I never knew it was anything else but “tiger” until a year or two ago.

The main problem here isn’t really the rhyme, but pointing out the two women publically in a patronizing, somewhat humiliating way. I’m a little over-sensitive, but having a plane full of people staring at me and chuckling while a flight attendent made up cute rhymes about my failure to get seated would have made me cry. It does seem like they should talk to passengers on an individual level instead of making them look foolish in front of a bunch of strangers.

I never heard the “n-word” version until today, either, though now that Fear Itself mentions it, I may have heard “Eskimo”. That sounds vaguely familiar.

I think the correct way to have handled this would have been to go up to the stewardess during the flight, explain the history, and go from there. No doubt she would have apologized profusely and promised not to use it again, which would have been enough for me. If she had had a different reaction, then we’d have had to go from there.

Here is another verson

Eenie meeny miny mo,
Sit the baby on the po,
When he’s done, wipe his bum,
Tell his mummy what he’s done.
Charming, eh ? :slight_smile:
Didn’t the “eeny, meeny…” thing originate from an old counting system used by shepherds; sshepherds in England that is, shepherds not familiar with many overseas people or tigers.

Well, that case could run and run. :slight_smile:

When I was at school it went
Ennie meanie minie mo
Catch a nigger by the toe
If he squeals let him go
Ennie-meenie minie mo

Now, I was at school in the UK, and none of us knew what nigger meant, as I don’t think that there is anything like the same level of concern about such issues here as there is in the US. As a result, I don’t think it was offensive, it just didn’t have any meaning, much like the chorus.

However, having spoken to some slightly younger friends (just a couple of years), they always caught a tigger or a spider. I don’t understand the spider version. They don’t have toes and they don’t squeal. And I don’t think that a tiger would give you the option of letting it go before mauling you to death.

So I suppose that I went to school just before the whole political correctness thing really kicked in in the UK.

we learned turtle.

Exactly my experience - growing up in South Africa (70/80’s) - there were “worse” words for black people in our culture, and the rhyme was just so much nonsense poetry…


I have a friend who grew up in South Africa under Apartheid. He’s left that influence behind him now but some years ago he got drunk in a pub and in a broad Afrikaaner accent said “I’m not a roicist but I can’t stand bliddy keffers”. I fell over laughing, although I shouldn’t have, probably.

I learned the n-word version as well, in small-town Ontario, and I used it because I had no idea what the word meant (there weren’t any non-white people in my town!). I also learned the ‘tigger’ version and used them interchangeably, until it was patiently explained to me that I should just stick to the second one.

FTR, ‘Eskimo’ is pretty offensive as well.

The lawsuit, however, is frivolous IMO. If you’re truly concerned about racism in popular culture, aren’t there better places to direct your energy? Oy.

Aaah, the halcyon days of youth in 1960s-70s Chicago, when we would have to find a way to determine who would have first choice of Brazil nuts before engaging in a rousing game of – uh – “mummy” pile.

What ever happened to: “My mother and your mother were hanging out the clothes, my mother punched your mother right in the nose. What color was the blood?”

To me, battery by parents is a much better “it” selection process.

As to the OP, I agree with the judge that it is up to a jury to determine the facts, but that doesn’t mean this case is a huge waste of the court’s time and money.

IMHO, this lawsuit has nothing to do with racism in popular culture. It has everything to do with money, and some overly simplistic, lying people trying to get some from Southwest.

I grew up in the south in the seventies and never heard the n squealing version of the rhyme. It was always tiger who hollered. It is easy to imagine that a 22 year old wouldn’t even know that there was an offensive version of the rhyme.

I feel bad for the passenger if she where so upset over a rhyme that she had a Grand Mal seizure but I don’t think that she should be compensated. I am really surprised that she made it to her 40s if she is that easily upset.