Ethics Quiz: Michael Wilbon’s Politically Incorrect Confession


Sportswriter Michael Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser’s African-American foil on the fluffy ESPN show “Pardon the Interruption” and hardly a rabble-rouser, shocked his audience this week when he announced that he is an aficionado of the word “nigger” (but not in public), and objects to being told that there is something wrong with that, especially by white folks. The issue came up regarding an uproar over a tweet, since deleted, from an NBA player using the word to criticize his team mates. [ Aside: It is funny how frequently a single post on Ethics Alarms  about a topic—say political correctness, word censorship, civility and the morass of related ethical issues—seems to trigger an explosion of news stories in the same area. Undoubtedly it is because the proximity of the post itself influences my judgment regarding which events deserve comment, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. This is similar to the phenomenon where you think you have heard a word or phrase for the first time, and suddenly you’re aware of it everywhere.] Wilbon said, unapologetically,

“People can be upset with me if they want, I, like a whole lot of people, use the N-word all day, every day, my whole life … I have a problem with white people framing the discussion for the use of the N-word.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz this weekend is this:

Is Wilbon’s defense of using the word “nigger”ethical? Continue reading