Wednesday, January 9, 2008

swear to tell the truth


Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government.

Are there any niggers here tonight? Could you turn on the house lights, please, and could the waiters and waitresses just stop serving, just for a second? And turn off this spot. Now what did he say? "Are there any niggers here tonight?" I know there's one nigger, because I see him back there working. Let's see, there's two niggers. And between those two niggers sits a kike. And there's another kike— that's two kikes and three niggers. And there's a spic. Right? Hmm? There's another spic. Ooh, there's a wop; there's a polack; and, oh, a couple of greaseballs. And there's three lace-curtain Irish micks. And there's one, hip, thick, hunky, funky, boogie. Boogie boogie. Mm-hmm. I got three kikes here, do I hear five kikes? I got five kikes, do I hear six spics, I got six spics, do I hear seven niggers? I got seven niggers. Sold American. I pass with seven niggers, six spics, five micks, four kikes, three guineas, and one wop. Well, I was just trying to make a point, and that is that it's the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. Dig: if President Kennedy would just go on television, and say, "I would like to introduce you to all the niggers in my cabinet," and if he'd just say "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" to every nigger he saw, "boogie boogie boogie boogie boogie," "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" 'til nigger didn't mean anything anymore, then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school.

Lenny Bruce: Swear to tell the truth 1998

That was 40 years ago and intolerance, injustice and just plain ignorance are still alive and well. Maybe it's just fear of the other and those who are awake taking on systems that have grown crass and cruel. At its best this is a country of great open mindedness and clarity. We need more laughing and free talking - not less.

Post dedicated to my friend Scarlet .

8 comments:

  1. I'm honored that you would dedicate a post to me.

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  2. Did you ever see the movie about Lenny? Brilliant!

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  3. This is a fucking travesty! I'm not fucking taking it another fucking second!

    From now on, I'm going to curse in my posts. I know, I know, but what about my "Christian Values?"

    Fuck'em.

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  4. You're right of course. It's not the words themselves that hurt.

    There is no excuse, however, to be demeaning and hurtful to another human being. A well-chosen word should not hurt somone. Words should be used with respect, because ultimately they come back to us. They become part of our social fabric, for better or worse.

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  5. Susan

    You may already be aware, but I found it amazing recently to discover the English language now has 4 times the number of words than at the time of Shakespeare, with a growing number of slang words. I wonder how long we can keep expanding.

    Wilkapeadai added 30million words in just 1 month’s additions. Best wishes

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  6. Fuck is a good word to have available when I hit my thumb with a hammer or when I hear that our government has just been found out in another outrageous act but generally speaking, I prefer more nuanced speech.
    Remember, life is also a for letter word.
    (also a Lenny Bruce line)

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  7. Holy fuck batman, this is a brilliant post!
    Me and a friend were listening to a radio station playing some fantastic Otis Reading tunes when the announcer came on and says,"speaking of Negro's , Happy Martin Luther King day". It all sounded sooooooo fucking white/fake. . .My friend asked "Why doesn't she just come out and say it...Happy nigger day (cuz that's what it sounds like)". Ever since, We use the greeting "Happy Nigger day".

    "Lace curtain Irish" is not nearly as insulting as Shanty Irish in my mother's book. She would always say things like "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph...It looks as if the Shanty Irish could be living here". I had no idea who/what the "Shanty Irish" were, I did know I didn't want to be one. My father always had a huge problem with "Paddy". He said it was a racial slur. It was the equivalent of calling a black person nigger. Apparently it's what the black and tans (British infantry) called Catholic citizens. To this day I correct anyone who calls my son Patrick "Paddy". Next time maybe I'll just let it go...

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