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  1. #1
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    LOS ANGELES: 'Symbolic' ban placed on racial slur

    The Los Angeles City Council is unanimous in its support for the moratorium. But the debate takes on a life of its own.

    By David Zahniser and Steve Hymon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

    November 10, 2007

    What started as a feel-good discussion on ways to reduce racial bias quickly turned into a freewheeling debate today as the Los Angeles City Council voted to declare a "symbolic moratorium" regarding the use of a common slur against African Americans.

    Voting 11 to 0 on a resolution by Councilman Bernard C. Parks, the council ceremoniously banned the use of the word "******" after hearing testimony from lawyer Gloria Allred, a group of civil rights leaders and the owner of the nightclub where "Seinfeld" star Michael Richards used the word repeatedly during a standup routine last year.

    The testimony quickly veered into other territory as several African American audience members addressed the council to argue the city had not worked hard enough to protect its black residents from gang members of Mexican descent.

    "This is a false attempt by Councilman Parks to cover up the fact that they have not done anything with the illegal alien gangs who are killing black Americans in South Los Angeles," said the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of the group Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny.

    One speaker said he would prefer a moratorium on gang violence and out-of-wedlock births. Another said that in South Los Angeles, "you have one race of people exterminating another race of people."

    Parks, who is running for county supervisor, acknowledged that the resolution was symbolic and would not do anything to end the "ills of the world." Nevertheless, he and his colleagues said the council needed to make a statement about discrimination.

    Councilwoman Jan Perry said she was so emotionally scarred after hearing the word directed at her years ago that she recoiled when she heard it used by any person, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

    "It affected me so much psychologically that I remember to this day, the name and the place and the person who used that word," she said.

    Councilman Tony Cardenas, who is of Mexican descent, described how he heard people use the word "wetback" while he was growing up. And Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who is gay, described how he was beaten as a 22-year-old by five men who called him a "faggot."

    "I know what a hate crime is," he said. "If we can symbolically say stop it in the context of this violence, I can support this."

    There has been a substantial amount of public outcry over use of the racial slur recently. In February, the New York City Council took a similar stance as the Los Angeles lawmakers did today, and the NAACP held a mock funeral for the word at its annual convention last summer in Detroit.

    The L.A. council's resolution got its start last year when an African American visitor to council meetings used the slur to protest city efforts to ban certain items that he could sell on the Venice Beach boardwalk. The speaker, Michael Hunt, used the word to describe how he was being treated.

    Council members complained about Hunt's choice of words. They were advised by their lawyers they could not ban certain words but could ban disruptive behavior caused by certain language.

    The council subsequently adopted rules of decorum that did not mention any specific words. They do, however, prohibit "threatening, personal or abusive language," although the council has not always enforced the rules.

    Minutes after today's vote, one speaker, Matthew Dowd, tested those rules by using the racial slur and another curse word. Dowd was warned by the council's attorney that he would be asked to leave if he used the slur again. He didn't.

    Hunt protested the council's resolution today by standing at the lectern in a T-shirt with the banned word on the front.

    "It's not what you say but how you say it," he told the council.

    NAACP national board member Willis Edwards rejected that notion and said it was important for lawmakers across the United States to take a stance against the word.

    "It's important that we educate all communities -- including our own -- about this word," he said.

    david.zahniser@latimes.com

    steve.hymon@latimes.com


    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me ... ome-center

  2. #2
    Senior Member reptile09's Avatar
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    Hardly a surprise, coming from the city that banned the purchasing of any PCs that had hard drives labelled 'master' or 'slave' drive. Whatever happened to the 'sticks and stone may break my bones' philosophy? I grew up in LA, and being half Japanese was called a Jap, a nip, and everything from chink and slope to gook, etc., this all during the Vietnam war, and I never had any permanent ill effects. Heck, even to this day, I can watch WWII history programs with veterans calling people Japs or nips and I don't get in a fit over it. Sure, some words are offensive, but this victim mentality being propagated, like simply hearing a word is going to scar a person psychologically is ridiculous. Last time I checked, these same people sure aren't lobbying for the banning of the words honkey, gringo or cracker. Get over it and get a life. Like this City Council doesn't have enough real problems to worry about.
    [b][i][size=117]"Leave like beaten rats. You old white people. It is your duty to die. Through love of having children, we are going to take over.

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