16h UTC; SUNDAY, 30 JUNE 2013: "Captain! thou abominable damned cheater, art thou not ashamed to be called captain? An captains were of my mind, they would truncheon you out, for taking their names upon you before you have earned them. You a captain! you slave, for what? for tearing a poor whore's ruff in a bawdy-house? He a captain! hang him, rogue! he lives upon mouldy stewed prunes and dried cakes. A captain! God's light, these villains will make the word as odious as the word 'occupy;' which was an excellent good word before it was ill sorted: therefore captains had need look to 't."

These comments of Doll Tearsheet in Shakespeare's Henry IV, part II (act II, scene IV, to be exact) targeting Sir John Falstaff and his associating with "the wrong sort of crowd" at Ye Boar's Head Tavern are perhaps fitting in light of Recent Unfortunate Events attracting quite the attention in the media over the use of the Mark Fuhrman Special (alias "the N-word") and the power it carries in causing harm and offense to a Certain National Minority, especially when used by those of the worst possible breeding and intellect (as in the Moronic Underworld such as is too reliant upon Fox News Channel and conservative talkback radio for their own good).

Which, in its turn, should call to mind not just "the N-word," but also various other epithets of opprobrium known to target ethno-national, religious, sexual and other minorities (including those with varying degrees of disability, Your Correspondent--himself a sufferer of mental and emotional such--among them). Which, for the most part, I will not repeat here for Obvious Reasons, as well as their being well-known to the average person more than likely.

But then again, there have been instances where otherwise harmless terms have eventually been reduced to dysphemistic status (which is how linguists refer to such words as have been deliberately created to cause shock, offense or opprobrium in especially targeted populations)and have essentially become rather offensive to the targeted.

Take, for starters, "polack," originally a harmless and inoffensive term for a Polish male ... but in time, especially with the emergence of "Polish jokes" in the late 1960's and early 1970's mocking supposed traits of character as bordered on the stereotypical, itself became an offensive term against those of Polish descent, particularly in areas with substantial Polish emigre and Polish-American populations. In time, thanks to Cardinal Karol Wojtyla's becoming Pope John Paul II in 1978 and the rise of the independent Solidarity labour movement in the face of Communist rule there in the early 1980's giving a renewed sense of pride to Polish peoples everywhere, "Polish jokes" eventually went out of fashion.

For another, "Pepsi", which is sometimes used as a perjorative against working-class French-Canadians in the province of Quebec, and sometimes having as much sting as "Canuck," another offensive term against the same subpopulation. Its origins, suprisingly enough, dating to Pepsi-Cola's introduction into Canada around 1935; for some reason or another, French-Canadians around especially Montreal and Quebec City took rather well to Pepsi's amazing value for money (i.e., a 12-ounce bottle thereof costing the same 5 cents as a six-ounce such of stalwart Coca-Cola). In time, however, "Pepsi" would be applied as an insult upon French-Canadians of a certain (especially low) class, enough so to rival the traditional epithet of "Canuck" in terms of offense and opprobrium. (Moral here: Be careful if you're asking for "une Pepsi, s'il-vous plait" in La Belle Province, and especially so in a depanneur or couche-tard, as convenience stores there are referred to--and especially so where English isn't widely understood as opposed to French.)

Besides, there are those who will invoke the "cultural heritage" patsy to excuse their use of slurs and epithets against National Minorities, especially so such specimens of "poor whiteism" who may be overdoing it on the "race identity and consciousness" angle reinforced by claims about White Christian AmeriKKKa Being In Clear and Present Danger of Extinction, requiring all manner of Defencive Measures as would probably rival those which begat South Africa's carnival of racial arrogance known as apartheid--even to the extent of using the God and Country card as a defence. IMHO, "cultural heritage" and/or "deeply- and dearly-held beliefs" as  defences to using slurs, taunts and epithets are never acceptable.

Especially as the Unfortunate Events in question are becoming teachable lessons about as much race and racism as the patois, argot and phraseology serving such loathsome and degrading ends. That, and those who insist on their use and excuse same as "cultural heritage," "traditional folkways" and suchlike as ought be questioned and challenged in this Our Dear and Lovely Nation.

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