Yes, Ted Nugent, You Can Say The N-Word…

This week, Ted Nugent wrote a column for World Nut Daily “praising” Obama for giving him “permission” to say the n-word. In said column, Nugent shouted for joy over how much he loves saying the word, because it makes him feel like Richard Pryor.

Along with President Obama and my hero Richard Pryor, we join Howard Stern, Johnny Cochran, Mark Furman, O.J. Simpson, Kid Rock, James Brown, the mighty Funkbrothers, Al not so Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Malcom X, Kanye West, Fifty Cent and pretty much every black rapper and hip hopper on earth, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, a few thousand NBA, NFL, MLB sports stars, legions of famous and not so famous musicians, actors, politicians, media personalities and assorted celebrities of every color, creed, ethnicity and walk of life, along with a few million others around the world who have used and continue to use the word n—-r at one time or another.

Um. Most of those people are Black people. I’m also not sure you want to be referencing Mark Fuhrman, Kid Rock, or Howard Stern as white people who have used the word in a non-offensive way somehow. I would also guess that Richard Pryor, though dead, would not be especially excited to have Ted Nugent gleefully using the word either.

For those who have chosen terminal denial and have completely lost touch with the real world, the word n—–r has historically been used in a powerfully positive way when describing the proud heritage and history of deeply respected, even revered “blackness.”

For my entire life, whenever I performed my most soulful and emotional guitar playing, I received the greatest compliment a musician could ever dream of when the word was used to describe my Motown touch.

The word is used constantly across America in a friendly, even tribal greeting and salutation with no hint whatsoever of negativity nor hostility.

Yes, by Black people. Not by Ted Nugent.

Here’s the thing. Technically, you can say the n-word if you want. You can, hypothetically, say nothing but that word ever in your life. You have every right to do that. Just as other people then have the right to think you are a racist asshole. 

I don’t know what it is about this word that makes people want to say it so desperately. I don’t know what it is Ted Nugent thinks would change for the better if he were to use the word freely and without criticism. Because really, that’s what he wants. That is what he’s really after. He wants to be allowed to say the n-word without people being allowed to criticize him for it.

Now, I ask you, is that a thing that is true for literally anything else in this world? I’m pretty sure it’s not. Anything I write here can be criticized by anyone else, anything I say in my day to day life can be criticized by anyone else who hears it. There is no law in this country preventing anyone from having an opposing opinion.

Whenever someone complains about “political correctness” or the “language police,” what they are actually doing is just as, if not more, “anti-free speech” than what they themselves are complaining about. Because what they’re doing is saying “I should be able to say whatever I want, but no one else is allowed to have a reaction to it.”

You don’t get to define what other people feel is hurtful to them. If Black people say “It is hurtful to me if a white person uses the n-word, but not when Black people do,” that is fair. Hell, if I say the word “overshoes” hurts me — as ridiculous as that is — you still don’t actually have the right to tell me how to feel when someone says it.

People are often very confused about what free speech is. It is only the right to not be arrested for speech. It only has to do with the government. It has nothing to do with people reacting poorly to your speech, because reacting poorly is also speech. It doesn’t mean your speech doesn’t have consequences–whether that is people disliking you, or thinking you are a racist, firing you for representing their firm poorly, or not wishing to do business with you or buy your product.

Think of it this way. Say we’re not even talking about that word. Say you just went around insulting people all the time, just walking up to people and telling them they’re ugly. Would it be illegal or even unfair for people to dislike you? Or to not want you around? Sorry, but I am reasonably sure that there is no law anywhere that prohibits thinking someone is an asshole.

Desperately whining about not being able to say the n-word, and going on and on about how fabulous life would be if you were “allowed” to say it? That is just as offensive as actually saying it. So you know what? If you really, truly, fervently believe that saying this word will vastly improve your life in untold glorious ways? That it will improve society somehow? Go and do! Knock yourself out. But don’t be surprised when people think you are a racist asshole.