Bullying the teacher

As part of a “Steps to Respect” lesson on bullying, a fifth grade teacher in Olympia, Washington gave “the n-word” as an example of offensive speech. A student’s mother wants the teacher disciplined for using offensive speech.

In a letter sent home to parents, Roosevelt Principal Mike McDonald said a student had asked whether it was OK to call someone gay. Teacher Richard Kalman responded by asking the class if it was OK to call someone by a common racial epithet for blacks, which he used.

The complaining woman, who has a daughter and stepgranddaughter in the class, is white, by the way. Steve Sharkansky suspects she is morbidly stupid.

About Joanne


  1. Bill Gates says:

    The word is “NIGGER” say it, it won’t hurt.
    Quit being intimidated by blck people.
    The teacher was right. The mother is an idiot.

  2. While the word itself means something entirely different than how it’s percieved when said. One must wonder if avoiding the word only perpetuates racism rather than helping it to end.

    When you apply a taboo to anything it becomes something that is still done, just in darkness, and shadow.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Steve Sharkansky actually reports that this is the girl’s stepgrandmother rather than her mother who is complaining. For what its worth.

  4. I had the same problem when discussing slurs. Only I said that some people called Mexican illegal aliens “Messkins.” Two students complained to the dean about the use of derogatory language in the classroom. These were college freshmen, neither of whom were Mexican or illegal aliens.

  5. The stepgrandmother also has a daughter in the class, so it’s a bit confusing. I’ll try to fix it.

  6. I don’t remember the comic’s name, but there’s an African-American woman who says in one of her routines that we need to attach that word to something positive–like party snack food. Just no barbeque n*****s.

    I think she’s right. We do need to keep using this word–just in positive ways.

  7. Seems more of a ‘gotcha’ moment than anything. Nailing someone because you don’t like them or just because you can.

  8. Walter Wallis says:

    Mo is right as people called Mo often are. In “Games People Play” this was known as the “Now I’ve Got You, You Sonofabitch!” game.

  9. theAmericanist says:

    (grin) Hell, if you’re gonna get in trouble, go all the way: Play the tape of Lennie Bruce’s 1960 standup routine on the subject, followed by NWA’s ‘Straight Outa Compton”, and then assign the class to write an essay on the evolution of the fighting leprechaun logo of Notre Dame University, starting with Thomast Nast’s woodcuts of the simian Irish during the 1863 NYC draft riots.

    (Extra credit for those who can work the meaning of NWA and “gay” into the Fighting Irish theme.)

    Imagine a TEACHING moment, instead of ‘gotcha!’

  10. PJ/Maryland says:

    I think we’ve discussed the evolution of words before. It seems that “nigger” is the single prohibited word in the English language, and it’s only prohibited to non-blacks.

    There used to be a whole series of nicknames for various ethnicities, which ranged from impolite to nasty. But since no one uses them any more… er, no one uses them any more. Not much point in using a nickname, derogatory or not, if no one knows what you mean. (So, if the black community really doesn’t want to ever hear the “n word” again, maybe they should stop using it.)

    Somebody told me, for example, that Italians used to be referred to as “guineas”, and that this was derogatory. How this word came to refer to Italians (and why it was derogatory) is beyond me. Is there some connection to Guinea Pigs, or the area in South America, or the British coin? (At least terms like “wetback” for Mexican or “towelhead” for Arab has a clear connection. That doesn’t tell you how derogatory the term is considered, tho; I just find “towelhead” laughable, myself.)

  11. If you click on Steve’s link you’ll see the mom–a morbidly obese woman. Not to be unduly harsh, but I agree with Ben Stein–fat is congealed anger. She’s just trying to play “Gotcha” with the teacher.

  12. An aside: I just saw your piece at TCS.
    WAY TO GO!

    I moved out of DC to the VA suburbs a few years ago. The city was a basket case. In the 5 years since it has only improved slightly – this, in spite of the STAGGERING amount of private wealth entering the city, as well as the 9-1/4% DC govt. income tax. They pitch funds at the school district in spades – all for nothing.
    I’m not a parent, but of all the people who flee the people’s republic of DC – they mostly do it out of disappoinment and disgust for the public school system.

    Again – one heck of an article – thank you J.J.!

  13. Kate, it is not very politically correct to imply that the woman might be overweight. She is probably at the ideal weight for her body type. She can’t help it is she and Jabba the Hutt are twins seperated at birth. To imply that her weight is in any way a result of anything other than her being a victim of the fast food industry in the country is just cruel.

    Olympia is only 1.4% black. It is amazing that people have become so sensitive to political correctness that any word could cause this much trouble.

  14. Steve LaBonne says:

    If the school dealt with bullying by means of effective discipline (if and when appropriate) rather than indoctrination classes, and reserved instructional time for its proper function of teaching academic skills, then the matter would never have arisen.

  15. Kate II says:

    But if schools spend their time on academics rather than social indoctrination, who’s gonna raise the kids? Bet you didn’t think about that!

    (Just realized that there’s another Kate here. Hope I didn’t mislead anyone.)

  16. dhanson says:

    Ah, I understand, Kate. The woman is evil and stupid because she is FAT. Well, it all makes sense then. We all know what fat people are like.

    Of course, she might just be stupid because she’s stupid and it might not have anything to do with her size.

    As far as it being politically incorrect to label her because of her size, Ross, I think you’re wrong about that. It’s open season on obesity, as long as you aren’t obese and a member of a protected class.

  17. PJ/Maryland, where exactly is the “Guinea” area of South America? Perhaps you’re thinking of Guyana? Or maybe Guinea Bissau or Papua New Guinea, neither of which are in the Americas.

  18. PJ/Maryland says:

    Oso101, I had a really good comment replying to yours, but it was eaten by the MT comment problem (speaking of excuses…).

    You’re right, my bad, I was thinking of the “Guiana” region in South America, which is British Guyana, Surinam, and French Guiana. In my defense, Guinea Pigs do come from South America.

    But “Guinea” is an area of Africa, mostly on the south coast of the large lump of western Aftrica. (Part of the Atlantic there is the Gulf of Guinea.)

    I did discover that there’s a connection between the Guinea area of Africa and the Guinea coin in Britain. Apparently, the latter was minted out of gold mined in the former, beginning in 1663.

    What all this has to do with Italians is anybody’s guess.

    (On the topic of racial slurs, I came across this “Dictionary of Racial Language”, which includes numerous derogatory slang, including Wetback, but not Guinea, or Towelhead.)