johnburger2013 piled on after my take-down of Tommie Christopher’s epic attempt to spin the unspinnable racist tweet by University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Butler, who wrote regarding Ben Carson. “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award …” His post went well beyond mine, was more exacting, analytical and funnier than my effort, and had Comment of the Day written all over it. I wrote that I was going to withhold the republication only because Christopher doesn’t deserve that much ink, but I received multiple protests from readers, so I am reversing myself. It is a terrific comment, but you really have to read Christopher’s screed to understand how terrific. Do that first, here.
Now read jb2013’s Comment of the Day on the post, Mediaite’s Tommie Christopher Locks Up The Dishonest Spin Of The Year Award In Defense of Calling Ben Carson A “Coon”:
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 would . . . 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.