Banning things has always been a surefire way to mobilise people and to really clarify what everyone hates and what everyone likes. There's nothing like a good book banning, film banning and now WORD banning to whip you into gear and reinforce what you stand for. New York has already banned dancing, smoking indoors, trans fat and potentially it'll ban listening to iPods while walking across the street.
Consequently, you deserve a slap in the face if you're surprised that New York City just "symbolically banned the word "nigger" ".
What the hell is a symbolic ban? "You're not allowed to use it but if you DO we won't necessarily do anything. You should just know you feel bad."
It's like the honor system with bad words.
Symbolically banning a word actually means nothing when you get down to it. The experience of saying the word "nigger" was already saturated with paranoia and guilt anyway - what is this, some kind of conscious governmental ackowledgement of that paranoia? For what reason?
The only reason a word is banned or ANYTHING is banned for that matter is because somewhere, underneath all the hype, mythology, hysterical passion and offended vitriol aimed at a comedian's slip up - a sly political figure is getting mileage out of beating the moralist angle to death in public.
The word "nigger" only has power if it remains avoided out of respect.
Sort of like the word "faggot".
The difference between the two, when you get down to it, is arbitrary. American culture has just been sitting in relentless shame with "nigger" longer than "faggot". With "faggot" it's only been a couple of weeks.
Why not bypass the 50 years of unpunished use of the word "faggot" and just ban them both? It would be horrible to think that banning "faggot" isn't a cultural inevitability. Wouldn't it?
Can't there be a package deal on emergency culture banning? "Nigger" and "faggot"get symbolically banned at the same time to save time.
OR, alternately everyone could just have a cup of tea and a good lie down.