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The N-word

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by boots, Jan 25, 2007.

  1. boots

    boots New Member

    There is a town in Texas that wants to make it a crime to use the N-Word in public. What's next? More importantly, how will it be enforced?
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Am I the only one who finds humor in the fact that you told us about the proposed law, while conspicuously not breaking the proposed law?
  3. boots

    boots New Member

    Proposed Brazoria, Texas Ordinance Banning Use of "Nigger" as a Fighting Word:
    The ordinance, as currently drafted, would provide an up to $500 fine for people who "intentionally or knowingly use[] the word 'nigger' in a[n] abusive, indecent, hurtful, degrading or insulting way in a public place, and the use of the word by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace." A few thoughts:

    (1) Words that "by [their] very utterance tend[] to incite an immediate breach of the peace" and are "directed to the person of the hearer" -- which is to say personal insults said to a particular person, and not just insulting words about third parties said in a general speech, on a billboard, in a book, and so on -- are indeed unprotected by the First Amendment, under the so-called "fighting words" exception.

    (2) This ordinance has no "directed to the person of the hearer" limitation: It would, for instance, ban even "hurtful" or "degrading" uses of "nigger" in public speeches that aren't directed at any particular person who is to be insulted. If read literally, it would therefore be unconstitutionally overbroad.

    (3) A court might interpret the ordinance as implicitly limited to statements "directed to the person of the hearer," especially since a similarly worded state law (see below) has been so read. But the ordinance would still be unconstitutional even with this limitation: While a total ban on all fighting words would be permissible, a selective ban only on racist fighting words -- or only on this racist fighting word -- is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court so held as to a very similar ordinance in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992).

    (4) The ordinance is also superfluous. Texas Penal Code 42.01(a)(1) already makes it an offense if a person "intentionally or knowingly" "uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace"; Texas courts have read this as limited to "fighting words," but of course covering all such insults, not just "nigger." The offense is "a class C misdemeanor," which may be punished by a fine of up to $500, the same fine the ordinance would impose.
  4. Chef

    Chef Active Member

    Everybody now.

    "This thread will not end well."
  5. Guy_Incognito

    Guy_Incognito Well-Known Member

    I'd love to hear what the constitutional scholar on the thread about reporters contacting families thinks about this one.
  6. boots

    boots New Member

    I wonder if those families use the N-word?
  7. John

    John Well-Known Member

    What happens if I'm playing Snoop Dogg real loud in my car and the word is clearly audible to the public?
  8. heyabbott

    heyabbott Well-Known Member

    then you are going to hell, cause SD is so 1994.
  9. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    Oooh, may have to rethink that matinee showing of Blazing Saddles.
  10. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    You're just being niggardly.
  11. Chef

    Chef Active Member


  12. fmrsped

    fmrsped Active Member

    No comment fom Michael Richards, I see.
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