Individual Entry

People Who Still Have Blogs:

  • Me

Archives

December, 2017
September, 2017
August, 2017
May, 2017
March, 2017
December, 2016
November, 2016
August, 2016
July, 2016
April, 2016
January, 2016
December, 2015
November, 2015
October, 2015
June, 2015
May, 2015
April, 2015
February, 2015
January, 2015
December, 2014
September, 2014
August, 2014
July, 2014
June, 2014
May, 2014
April, 2014
March, 2014
February, 2014
January, 2014
December, 2013
November, 2013
October, 2013
September, 2013
August, 2013
July, 2013
June, 2013
May, 2013
November, 2012
October, 2012
September, 2012
August, 2012
July, 2012
June, 2012
March, 2012
February, 2012
January, 2012
December, 2011
November, 2011
September, 2011
August, 2011
July, 2011
June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010
August, 2010
June, 2010
May, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010
November, 2009
October, 2009
September, 2009
August, 2009
July, 2009
June, 2009
May, 2009
April, 2009
March, 2009
February, 2009
January, 2009
December, 2008
November, 2008
October, 2008
September, 2008
August, 2008
July, 2008
June, 2008
May, 2008
April, 2008
March, 2008
February, 2008
January, 2008
December, 2007
November, 2007
October, 2007
September, 2007
August, 2007
July, 2007
June, 2007
May, 2007
April, 2007
March, 2007
February, 2007
January, 2007
November, 2006
October, 2006
September, 2006
August, 2006
July, 2006
June, 2006
May, 2006
April, 2006
March, 2006
February, 2006
January, 2006
November, 2005
October, 2005
September, 2005
August, 2005
July, 2005
June, 2005
March, 2005
January, 2005
December, 2004
November, 2004
August, 2004
July, 2004
June, 2004
May, 2004
April, 2004
March, 2004
February, 2004
January, 2004
December, 2003
November, 2003
October, 2003
September, 2003
August, 2003
July, 2003
May, 2003
April, 2003
March, 2003
February, 2003
January, 2003
December, 2002

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
Valid CSS

An Avoidable and Deceptively Benign Distraction which Masks an Intractable Mess

This Story and more specifically this story were the grains of irritant that led to this post.

Also, the second story mentioned how much bloggers were mentioning the controversy, so I seem honor bound to pile on.

For people to lazy to RTFAs, the basic summation is discussing whether the phrases "eenie, meenie, minie, moe" and "tar baby" can ever be used in polite conversation after some very uncouth men used them in horrible contexts dozens of years back. How long does it take a stench to wear off, otherwise suitable words?

"Tar Baby" holds a special place in my heart, since growing up in MN, I had *no* idea it had anything but a positive context of one of my most favorite childhood tales. So when I got big and grown up, and involved in complex problems, it's not suprising that I used it.

The first time my boss pulled me aside and asked me about it, I assured him he must be mistaken. That he simply wasn't familiar with the counter-culture story I was referencing, and must be confusing it with some other type of similar sounding, yet altogether different phrase.

The second time, I heard someone reference that their grandfather in the south often used it as a derogatory term. Well, I'm too much of a guilty liberal to fight that... But yet here I am. Not only defending a possible racial epitaph, but also doing so on timing so that it actually defends a criticism of Tony Snow...

I think the reason I can't let go of it, is that there simply exists no other word, story or even english phrase capable of expressing the idea. I liken it to the phrase "The lady doth protest too much", there is just no other way to say it, no other way to pull off that joke other than that phrase, no alternate way to invoke it.

I suppose there could be a push to rewrite the tale in a more modern context and call it "gluebaby" or something, but that has all the allure of yelling "Gosh" after hurting your thumb. Not to mention it may offend the vegans among us...

Oh well, I suppose I should probably start pointing out how I'm totally not racist, and that the historical context seems to strongly favor it being nothing more than necessary plot, since some might construed that as proof of my masking guilt for past racial indiscresions.

Which would really suck, since I hear the punishment for such infractions is being forcibly moved to Canada, and man, would that ever be terrible.

I mean, it's so cold there, and the health care, it's socialized! No one wants their tax dollars going towards that, especially now that the US dollar is so weak. Also, they're so far north, it'd be a wonder if they even know of the tales of Uncle Remus, let alone their tainted past... So please, I beg you, don't forcibly move me there by hiring moving trucks and selling my over priced American house for one in Canada. Anything but that.

7 comments:

Clearly, its been too long since you've spent some quality time with Kamil. Its hard to beleive I'm suggesting that he's a good influence, but after reading this post, I think its true.
by: Mike (contact) - 29 Jul '06 - 09:33
And the all important third data point:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wi...
by: Kyle (contact) - 31 Jul '06 - 10:45
I'm unclear Mike, are you saying Kamil has a strong opinion on the appropriateness of using the term "tar baby"?
by: Kyle (contact) - 31 Jul '06 - 10:46
I remember one member of the Forest Lake extemp line up who used to use a tar baby introduction. I guess that would now result in being rode out on a rail. Although I can wax prosaic about the anti-Semitic roots of the word "shyster" and cringe when I hear the word "gypped," I never knew, until the Tony Snow debacle, that "tar baby" was offensive in origin. It's not that shocking, though, and objections to the use of the term seem a lot more reasonable than when people got upset about the use of the word niggardly. Not that I would EVER use that word at work. Especially not where *I* work. :)
by: Meg (contact) - 31 Jul '06 - 20:28
Its worse than I thought if you can't guess Kamil's feelings on politically correct language choice.
Now, if I can only come up with a way to force you back to Chicago more often...
by: Mike (contact) - 31 Jul '06 - 22:43
http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov...

Okay, setting aside the failure of the 8th Circuit to put any meaningful force behind Title VII, see page three. Kyle, you are *SO* getting deported to Canada.
by: Meg (contact) - 04 Aug '06 - 14:26
The only "tar baby" I have ever know was the comically used to be derogitory. I mean "tar baby" is such a funny word to funny to be derogitory in its nature. "Nigger" is bad it has that harsh "grrr" at the end that the "Krauts" seem fond enough of to sprinkle it through out thier god awful language. Being a "relativly fresh of the boat Pollock" who grew up in low income housing filled with "Spics, Reds, and Jigaboos" I realized that racial words can only hurt you if they are etched on a rock. It seems like the "Cracker" middle class families who raise their kids in white suburban communities are especially sensative to words but kids growing up in urban or low income settings tend not to be so tortured. Anyways words are words, no more no less. With out action they are worthless vibrations of air. For this reason I stopped caring when all the little "Wop" kids called me a "dumb Pollock" in high school, but when one of those bastards attacked my friend physically, you best believe it was on.
by: bad username (contact) - 15 Aug '06 - 14:47



 




Meta Information:

Title: An Avoidable and Deceptively Benign Distraction which Masks an Intractable Mess
Date posted: 27 Jul '06 - 22:50
Filed under: General
Word Count: 517 words
Good Karma: 94 (vote)
Bad Karma: 67 (vote)
Next entry:  sarcasm in an audience
Previous entry:  The Madness of King George's Constituents

Frontpage