Friday, February 5, 2016

Poll: Most of us use racial slurs

Riley Cooper participates in the Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia on August 6, 2013. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

Riley Cooper, Hugh Douglas and Paula Deen, you have company.

You are far from alone in using a racial slur. At least if a poll is even half-accurate.

The question, first posed yesterday on a story about ex-Eagles defensive end Douglas calling an ESPN colleague an "Uncle Tom" and a "house" n-word, asked:

"Either in public or private, how many times in the last year have you used a racial slur (outside of quoting a movie, show or song)? It's anonymous, so be honest."

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  • Either in public or private, how many times in the last year have you used a racial slur (outside of quoting a movie, show or song)? It's anonymous, so be honest.
    I can count them on one hand
    Too many times to count
    They're part of my everyday vocabulary

    As of early this afternoon, with 7,200 votes tallied, more than 40 percent chose either "Too many times to count" (27.2 percent) or "They're part of my everyday vocabulary" (13.4 percent).

    Apparently, the headline "Some of your best friends are racists" was quite right on a recent Inquirer commentary by Penn prof John L. Jackson Jr.

    He wrote that if individuals got "thrown off the island" for every racist or sexist remark, "eventually, there would be nobody left to banish."

    it isn't as if we have the luxury of throwing people "off the island" whenever they say something racist or sexist. There is no place to send them. And if there were, eventually, there would be nobody left to banish.

    "Never" got about 39 percent of the vote in the poll, while "I can count them on one hand" got 17.5 percent.

    Just 180 people voted for "Once," the least popular choice, with 2.5 percent.

    Apparently, using racial slurs is akin to eating potato chips. It's tough to stop at one.

    (I confess to being tempted to insert a "cracker" joke here. Potato chips, crackers, get it?)

    Eagles receiver Cooper denied being a repeat offender, after being caught on video using the n-word at a Kenny Chesney concert. He was fined by the Eagles, sent off to thought rehab, returned to do serial apologies, and seems likely to start in Friday's exhibition game.

    Deen, in a deposition, told a lawyer she hasn't used the n-word for "a very long time," but incurred widespread criticism and canceled business deals because she admitted having ever used it and stood accused of other possibly racist behavior.

    The results of the poll, of course, are not scientific. There's no telling, for example, if the respondents are representative of the general population, or even how narrowly or broadly the voters might interpret the term "racial slur." 

    Some folks might count redneck or religious slurs, while others might not, for whatever reasons.

    But it's tough to look at such strong results and not think, gee, good thing we didn't ask about all slurs, including toward gays, women, men (think body parts), the disabled, the gifted, or foreigners.

    Hey, watch your mouth! I heard that.

    Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or
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