Thursday, September 11, 2008


From comments in Never Forget:
Anonymous Kilgor said...

Spook can a pejorative for black people. I know you meant a CIA type. However, being as how you are a teacher, you should be careful with such terms in today's world.

September 11, 2008 2:53 PM

Really? Seriously? Kilgor, you've been reading this blog for awhile (and I've enjoyed your comments.)
In that time, have I given you the impression that I'm a guy who would adjust my language to fit the delicate sensibilities of someone that determined to be offended? They'd be offended at my use of a word, and I'd be offended by their refusal to employ basic comprehension strategies such as context clues. We'd be more or less even. Don't give 'em an inch!


Unknown said...

How is spook a pejorative for black people? I have never heard that, and I live in a fairly large black and latino community. So does that guy really believe that when you said about a spook lighting a thermite fuse, that you mean a black person lighting a thermite fuse..give me a break.

Don said...

No, he doesn't think I meant that. He's just predicting that somebody out there will think so. I'm not saying he's wrong, I'm just saying I don't care.

Spook, spade, and some other colorful names aren't really used anymore, but there used to be a LOT of ways for a white racist to say something vicious about black people.

Someday, if I can get it all straight, maybe I'll tell the story of my dad back in the CB radio days, when one of his friends pissed off several blocks' worth of black guys and gave them my dad's name, challenging them to come down to his town and get him.

They did just that, and unfortunately enough, that was the night dad hit a raccoon with his truck on the way home from the midnight shift. He was selling pelts for extra money back then, so he picked it up and threw it in the back and told his friends on the CB that he'd just killed a "coon" with his truck and thrown it in the bed. Before he got home, he realized it was still alive, so he called for one of his buddies to come to his house and help him kill the "coon" in his truck.

It all led to an unfortunate misunderstanding that's a lot funnier now than it was then. :)

Rio Arriba said...

Who says racists aren't progressive word-smiths? Spade, spook, jungle-bunny, spear-chucker, all have passed into the name-callers' Hall of Fame. I'm not up on the latest itertions, but I am sure they are out there. There are even a few for WHITE people!

It's a losing game to try to pre-placate the PC crowd with self-censorship. Besides, pseudo-gaffes give them something to do and that might prevent them from actually causing harm in some other arena.

Anonymous said...

Remind me never to talk about card games because the deck has spades. Or gardening either because I might need a garden spade. This is just as stupid as the 'black hole' kerfuffle in Texas.

Anonymous said...

I just know that school boards and principals are generally risk averse when it comes to defending teachers against ridiculous claims of bigoty, sexual misconduct, being a Republican (somewhat kidding), etc.

As a teacher I was concerned that you may use the term at school in all innocence, but face professional trouble because of it. It's obviously your choice on how you conduct yourself. You know the environment and level of support given by the local school authority to its teachers.

I just wanted to make sure you were aware of other meanings of the word.

Carry on. :)

Anonymous said...

By the way, you have to tell that story...

Don said...

Granted, school boards have no sense of humor. Even so, as long as I don't go around calling black people spades I think it'll be OK.

If it's not, I'll be surprised, but I'll go work somewhere else. Under "Reason You Left Your Last Job?" I'll put:

"I referred to CIA agents as "spooks," which made seven white people take offense because, if I hadn't been talking about CIA agents, and I had been talking about black people, it would have been offensive."

That should start a conversation at the very least.


John R said...

Occasionally while performing "training operations in the Northern Pacific to test the endurance and capabilities of both submarine and the crew", we had special guests on board.

These special guest had their own version of training exercises.

When I mentioned what a PITA it was to have spooks on board to a black friend I grew up with, he really thought I was talking about blacks. Some people really are just too damn sensitive.

Anonymous said...

In the Navy we called them spooks because even when you see them "they aren't really there"....

Besides, is it racist that a truly secret program is a 'black' program????

Matt G said...

Don, that story is too frickin' awesome to be buried in comments. Post it, and love that you have it to tell.

Anonymous said...

"Don't give 'em an inch!"
This is why we must continue to use the word Negro. This word was always considered the correct and even polite term, when I was growing up in the sixties. Black was considered slang at best and insulting at worst.
When did it become a racist slur and who decided that? Are we going to allow our vocabulary to be dictated to us by minorities?
Of course Negro is simply the Spanish word for black, so if a person objects to the term, doesn't that make them an anti-Hispanic bigot? If I choose to throw an occasional Spanish or French word into the conversation, that's my right.
If they insist on being PC, we must use their own logic against them.

Anonymous said...