Mediaite’s Tommie Christopher Locks Up The Dishonest Spin Of The Year Award In Defense of Calling Ben Carson A “Coon”


Hillary Clinton, hire this man!

Someone with such an evident talent for using deceit, rhetorical fog, logical fallacies and rationalizations with such assertiveness and certitude is invaluable to any political candidate, but especially one, like you, whose favorite tactic when caught in misconduct is to flood everyone’s consciousness with excuses, denials, irrelevancies and distractions until all but the most concerned and attentive are likely to give up and say “The hell with it. Nothing is worth listening to this.”

Tommie Christopher is described in online profiles as a liberal commentator, which means that he isn’t a journalist at all. He is a partisan, ideologically slanted advocate. That would be enough for me not to trust him already, but his recent post for Mediaite would cause me not to trust him even if he had just been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Thus his argument must stand entirely on its inherent validity, rather than the presumed acumen of its author. On that basis, it shouldn’t have been published at all. I would call it link-bait at best.

I wrote about University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Butler, who wrote “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award …” when responding to a Daily Beast editor’s  tweet containing a link to a Sports Illustrated article on Ben Carson’s defense of flying the Confederate flag at NASCAR events. Christopher’s post is headlined “Ivy League Professor Didn’t Actually Call Ben Carson ‘Coon of the Year’”  Of course she did. Who else was there in the story that she was plausibly calling a “coon”? No one.

I think the headline may have been intended as a kind of an employment ad for Lannie Davis’s job as Shameless Clinton Defender When They Are Caught Red-Handed, in case he wakes up one morning, as he might some day, looks in his bathroom mirror, screams “OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?”, rips his face off like that guy in “Poltergeist” and jumps out a window. The unspoken challenge from Christopher: “See this ridiculous headline, as crazy as Davis claiming that Hillary did nothing wrong in handling State Department secrets on an insecure private e-mail account? Now watch my spin wizardry, and be amazed!”

Unfortunately, Christopher’s  performance doesn’t equal the hype:

First he writes,

“Now, if you want to interpret Professor Butler’s tweet that way, you’re welcome to do so, but to state that interpretation as fact is just plain wrong. In fact, maybe you’re the racist for reading that tweet and assuming that she meant Ben Carson is a “coon.” There’s another much more relevant interpretation to be made…The sentence in Professor Butler’s tweet could have been completed in any number of ways, including “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award…Ben Carson could tell NASCAR to hold the ceremony, as long as it’s a majority of people in the area who want to give out the award, and it was on private property.” Too many characters, but you get the idea.”

Why yes, Tommy, the idea is that you have stretched plausibility to the breaking point in defense of a self-evident racist. It you really think that this is the most relevant interpretation, despite the fact that nobody not desperately spinning to avoid the obvious conclusion that the professor is a racist hypocrite, would assume that meaning even after electroshock treatment, then you have  unique brain wiring, to say the least. But it is true, you can complete that and any sentence a number of ways, but Occam’s Razor dictates that the most obvious way—in this case, “If there was a coon of the year award, Ben Carson would win it”—is how it should be interpreted, indeed exactly what Butler meant, and how Tommie Christopher understood it too, until he decided to test his spinning skills by claiming otherwise.

It gets worse. Sure enough, Christopher trots out the old “blacks can call black “niggers” and that’s OK but whites just don’t understand ” argument:

“These definitions [of “coon”] are all perfectly accurate as it relates to white people using the word, but among black people, it has a completely different, much more complex meaning. When a white person calls someone a “coon,” they are slurring all black people, but within the black community, the term is not a racial slur, and it’s not interchangeable with the multi-purpose n-word. It is a provocative (and yes, offensive) social and/or political critique that covers a wide range of behaviors.”

To justify this nonsense (Do blacks commonly call non-blacks “coons”? If not, then this admittedly “offensive” term applied based on skin color is by definition a racist slur), Christopher defers to an obscure website called “Coonwatch” with a confusing passage. Is there any evidence that the professor is a follower of Coonwatch? Did she have any reason to think the SI editor she tweeted to was aware of this virtually unknown definition of “coon”? Let’s give Christopher the benefit of tremendous doubt, and agree that coon, in some contexts, may not be a racial slur. Well, a responsible college professor had better be able to make that rarefied context  clear as a summer stream, or be prepared to accept the consequences–consequences that no white professor could possibly avoid. She is an academic who teaches all races: the “we have different meaning for words than you white folks” excuse is lazy, unfair and dishonest. It is also called “a failure to communicate,” and if a school’s professors can’t communicate, then they shouldn’t be professors.

Worse yet is this, at the end of Christopher’s post:

“This effort by the conservative media is nothing if not an attempt to police black language, a practice they supposedly reject with every fiber of their being.”

Police black language? How about insisting that blacks and whites be held to the same standards of civility and respect, not to mention articulateness, clarity and accountability? What about objecting to universities employing professors who use racial slurs and who employ bias by skin color, but only when such professors are black? Objecting to political correctness has never extended to defending the use of outright racist, misogynist, ethnic or homophobic slurs in  unambiguous efforts to diminish human beings. When have conservative commentators ever defended the right of anyone to use the words “nigger,” “coon,” “cunt,” “twat,” “kike,” “retard,” “wetback,” “chink,” “slope,”  “gook” or “Jap” without condemnation?

Christopher’s smug dishonesty is far more offensive that the professor’s tweet.

But look out Lanny!

9 thoughts on “Mediaite’s Tommie Christopher Locks Up The Dishonest Spin Of The Year Award In Defense of Calling Ben Carson A “Coon”

  1. Many years ago I taught with a woman whose last name was Coon – actually a rather common name. Anyways, she use to delight in going to a restaurant and giving her last name when having to wait. The moment of truth would be “Coon family. Table for Coon’s.” Often they would be clever enough to ask for her first name.

    The musical “Hair” had that great song “Colored Spade.”

  2. Unfortunately, he probably isn’t being dishonest. I would not be surprised if he firmly believes everything he wrote. It would be easier if people like that were just shallow liars. It is much more difficult when you realize that many truly believe what they say. That is why 35% believe Hillary Clinton is trustworthy. How many people have been brainwashed into thinking that it is impossible for blacks to be racist? They can even recite a reason (from wrote) about why it is so. That reason makes no sense, but it doesn’t matter, this is a matter of FAITH, not reason.

  3. Jack,

    I am going believe that everything Tommie Christopher wrote in his Mediaite column was tongue-in-cheek. I simply refuse to believe that someone can be that obtuse, that devoid of critical thought, and that blinded by self-delusion. Maybe it was a slow column day and he figured he would write something so far off the mark just to see how many people woul . . . Oh, forget it. I can’t do it! I lost my roll of duct tape. I fear I will lose my security deposit when my landlord sees all of that cranial debris all over the walls and ceiling.

    I do think that Tommie should have his computer privileges revoked, though, because he has utterly forfeited his right to write by writing stupid things under the guise of sophistication. He concludes his missive with this little gem:

    “It’s a free country, though, so if you want to be offended by what Professor Butler said, go ahead. Just be offended by what she actually said, not what you imagine she said, and just know that no matter how many times she tweets the word ‘coon,’ it’s still racist when white people say it.”

    Erm . . . Um . . . Tommie? Isn’t that what Dr. Ben Carson said about NASCAR fans proudly displaying the Stars and Bars? Superficially, Dr. Carson said they should fly it if they want if they’re on private property. Dr. Carson also said it was offensive, just as offensive as the Swastika. Nuance, Tommie. Nuance.

    As you know, Tommie, words have meanings, and context does matters. When someone strings a bunch of words together, they are called sentences. Sentences strung together are called paragraphs. Paragraphs strung together form . . . oh, you get the picture, right?

    Now, let’s think about “coon”. Setting aside the short cut for raccoon, what did the illustrious Professor mean to convey when she wrote her incomplete thought? She wrote, “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award …” Maybe I am naive, but I don’t think she meant ” . . . Ben Carson could tell NASCAR to hold the ceremony, as long as it’s a majority of people in the area who want to give out the award, and it was on private property.” Nah. She said exactly what she meant. It is a simple syllogism (that’s a fancy word for argument, Tommie – look it up). This may be a bit over your head, Tommie, but the statement she made is commonly referred to as “modus ponens”, which posits (meaning, states) “that if one thing is true, then another will be. It then states that the first is true. The conclusion is that the second thing is true”. It is commonly referred to as

    “If A, then B. A; therefore, B” Simple, no?

    So, let’s try it out, shall we Tommie?

    A: If only there were a “Coon of the Year” Award.
    B: Then Dr;. Carson would win it.

    See, Tommie? It’s really not that hard to figure what she meant.

    But, Tommie, if we are going to extend or imply meanings or unwritten nuances into Prof. Butler’s comment as you suggest, then she could have meant just about anything. For example, she could have meant “. . . then apple pie is tasty”. But, that destroys the simplicity of the syllogism. Moreover, if we are going to imply non-racial connotations (meanings, Tommie), then perhaps we should extend the same courtesy to Dr. Carson. That seems reasonable to me. Consequently, I think Dr. Carson probably meant that free citizens, living in a free and ordered society exercising their own liberties, should not be waylaid by government censorship. He did not endorse that flag’s meaning, any more than the good Professor Butler did (according to your post) when she uttered her little gold nugget. If Prof. Butler did not mean to denigrate Dr. Carson by saying he should win the “Coon of the Year” Award, then Carson did not intend to promote racism by encouraging NASCAR fans to fly that stupid flag. See what I did there, Tommie? I used your argument to imply nuance in Dr. Carson’s comments. Neat, huh?

    As aside, Tommie, if you are going to link to a website for support that “coon” is not a derogatory word, then perhaps you should actually read the site – it may come as a shock that the site declares what the common meaning of the word is and, oddly, tracks use of the word to marginalize blacks. Oh,and, next time, spare us the self-righteous moral indignation about only whites can be racists and are incapable of being outraged by black racism. It’s insulting.

    Tommie, I know you meant well. You really did. But, sometimes, people say and write indefensible things and, no matter how hard you tie yourself into a pretzel, you just can’t save them from the consequences of their actions. Prof. Butler used a racially charged statement to insult Dr. Carson, who is a black pediatric neurosurgeon from John Hopkins University, lest we forget. Perhaps she should have called him an “Uncle Tom” for good measure, but I guess that wouldn’t be racially charged, either. Right? You are a fool, Tommie.


  4. I’ve thought a little more about the “black people can call each other ‘niggers’ with impunity” argument since the first essay on this “coon” thing. And this guy’s accusation that not liking the idea constitutes “white people policing black speech.” I think the point that is worth making is that if in fact the left’s insistence that there is toxic structural racism in the U.S. is the case, black people calling each other “nigger” is simply a bad, counter-productive, unnecessary thing to do. If I was one of my grand fathers or one of my great grand fathers, what would be the good of my calling a buddy a “fucking mick” or a “God damned Kraut” if I was trying to get by in a hostile environment. The whole “Niggers with Attitude” (I thought it was funny that all the publicity for “Straight out of Compton” only used “N.W.A”) thing is just a big negative when any positive can only help. If this makes me a condescending racist bigot, so be it.

  5. Bill, I think The Point is a stuck-out tongue: nyah, nyah white people can’t say it (in public) but black people can. Stupid, childish, pointless, inflammatory and stupid … oh, did I say that already? Is it “just a big negative when any positive can only help?” Of course. Since when did ‘nyah, nyah’ indicate a desire to communicate with a rational adult to help the situation?

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