Surprising things and places in science, engineering and geography named "niggerhead"

California's recently renamed mountain - read on for story

By now we are all probably aware of the media flash-mob that has erupted over presidential candidate Rick Perry’s badly named hunting ranch leased plot near Haskell, Texas. There’s quite a story in the New York Times about it here.

Seeing the word used today, it reminded me of an odd experience in west Texas earlier this year where I heard the term used before. I had forgotten all about it until today. I hadn’t intended to write a story on this at all, but curiosity about that event led me down an interesting set of rabbit holes, so I thought I’d share what I learned about this ugly and offensive term and how surprising the wide and varied use of it is.

In the spring, I was at a conference/tradeshow in Oklahoma and Dallas where I showed some of our weather equipment. Reader may recall I blogged about the Japan earthquake and Tsunami while in a hotel room in Oklahoma City. The next week I was in Dallas. Shortly after the conference closed, I had the misfortune of driving along a stretch of lonely highway 82 between Dallas and Lubbock. I had to go through Lubbock because I needed to go to Muleshoe, TX, where there was an unsurveyed USHCN station I wanted to add to the station database, and Muleshoe (only to discover later that Juan Slayton had added it already) was so that had to be my route so I could connect to Highway 388 which goes NW from Lubbock to Muleshoe, and then on to Fort Sumner NM where I wanted to verify a Google street view on an MMTS. My GPS, as GPS’s sometimes do had me going on some backroads, including Munday, TX which I thought had an odd name and I got turned around for a bit and found myself headed south on 277 to Haskell. Got that solved and headed west on 222 to connect to 82.

I found myself in a pickle when I reached Guthrie, TX because I  was getting low on gas, and I hadn’t seen any gas stations. From the 82 bypass around Guthrie I spotted what looked to be a gas station, so I double back, took the exit and went into town. It was a gas station alright, long since closed and there was nothing else in town. I was afraid I’d find myself stranded in Guthrie. I was struck by the fact that I was in the middle of one of the biggest oil producing states, and there was not a drop of gasoline to be found. There was no cell service that would support web browsing on my phone either, so I couldn’t search for one.

So I drove around just a bit in Guthrie, until I spotted somebody I could ask. It was like a ghost town, but I finally found someone (actually they found me because parked and waited and he rode by on a bike) and I flagged the guy down and asked where I might find some gas. He thought a moment and said “There’s no gas here, nearest is either Ralls or Crosbyton”. I asked where those towns were and he said: “on 82 (pointing west) out past the niggerheads, and then past Dickens”. I said “What? Niggerhead? Is that a town? and he looked at me like I was from another planet (I didn’t tell him I was from California) and he said “no that’s the hills, you’ll see em, and then ya go through Dickens, and Crosbyton, and then Ralls. One of ‘em should have gas.”

I did find gas in Crosbyton, after driving west on 82 through the hills the man described which you can see here in Google maps.

The term “niggerheads” was puzzling and odd, but I figured it was just some local colloquialism, and I didn’t give it another thought…until today.

So after being bombarded with all the news stories about how offensive this term is, and noting that some of the same people doing reporting lambasting Perry over the name of a ranch called “niggerhead” have absolutely no trouble at all calling people like me and the readers of WUWT “deniers” (Think Progress, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, among others) which is also an ugly and offensive term due to the connection to “holocaust deniers”.

So, I thought I’d see what I could find on it. I figured if it was some sort of local colloquial term when I heard it in Texas last spring, I’d find it in older books and maps.

So in my first Google search, amongst all the news stories about Perry, I found my first clue as to why I heard the term,  in Wikipedia:

The term was once widely used for all sorts of things, including products such as soap and chewing tobacco, but most often for geographic features such as hills and rocks.[citation needed] In the U.S., more than hundred “Niggerheads” and other place names now considered racially offensive were changed in 1962 by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, but many local names remained unchanged.[1]

So that explained why the fellow I asked directions from used the term for the hills I’d drive through. The NYT article I cited above also mentions this.

I can understand how it is offensive, and I can certainly see removing it. But I think removing it is going to be a much bigger job than the bloodhounds in the mainstream media thinks. Just look at all the references to the word in science and engineering and geography:


Nigger Head, an island in North Queensland, Australia

United States. Bureau of Fisheries – 1921 – Free Google eBook – Read

NIGGERHEAD GROUP. The shells of the niggerhead group distinguish themselves from all others of the Quadrula class by combining a In buying mussels for button manufacture the price is often based upon the percentage of niggerheads.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen – 1911 – Free Google eBook – Read

One chamber casting (acting as a nigger head), is bolted centrally to the dry pipe in such a manner as to have the fingers As the throttle is opened, steam is admitted through the dry pipe to the header which acts as a nigger head.

The vegetation of New Zealand – Page 157 Leonard Cockayne – 1921 – 456 pages – Free Google eBook – Read

3- Niggerhead (Carex secta)-association. Here shock-headed masses of C. secta are dominant raised above the water on Niggerhead -swamp contains many of the ordinary swamp-plants and many transitions occur between it and Phormium-

License my roving hands: poems and stories – Page 19 Tobin – 2000 – 57 pages – Preview

NIGGERHEAD ROAD The squeaky, old doors have closed forever on a school, a drug store and train station with a telegraph office where matrimonial ads and baseball games were transmitted as well as business on the stock exchange and a

International Association of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Iron Workers – 1905 – Free Google eBook – Read

THE MAN ON THE NIGGER HEAD. His legs are poor, he can’t go aloft, In the “bull” gang he is dead; But should the boss throw a line across He is first to the ” nigger head.” He keeps the line coiled neat and trim, But I have often heard it…

In the Alaskan wilderness – Google Books Result Byron Gordon – 1917 – Alaska – 247 pages

This is what is called nigger- head and muskeg in the language of the North. on any map of Alaska), and prepared to do all the portaging ourselves.

Highway to Alaska Herbert Charles Lanks – 1944 – 200 pages – Snippet view

16 Niggerhead and Horse Camp Lakes The next day I decided to explore ahead on foot, for there was no one in camp who seemed to know the condition of the road. They said that the last vehicle had got through way back in April,

The Pennsylvania barn: its origin, evolution, and distribution in … – Page 263 Robert F. Ensminger – 2003 – 348 pages – Preview

The development of the nigger head in central Pennsylvania was examined under ” Tying Joints and Bent Raisings” (see The emergence of the nigger head may also result from a simplification of the double tie beam, which is commonly

Journal of conchology: Volume 11 – Page 214 Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland – 1906 – Free Google eBook – Read

Moreover the growth of the shells is very slow, the time required for a “nigger- head” to reach a size of three The standard is the “niggerhead.” In 1897 the market value of this species in Muscatine ranged from 40 to 62 cents per

The mineral resources of New South Wales – Page 402 Geological Survey of New South Wales, Edward Fisher Pittman – 1901 – 487 pages – Free Google eBook – Read

There is another peculiar form common on the field, known as a nigger head. These nigger heads are usually oval or spherical masses of more or less opal- impregnated, fine grained silica ; they are of all sizes from 1 lb. to 1 cwt.,

California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current … – Page 258 Erwin G. Gudde, William Bright – 2004 – 460 pages – Preview

and Niggerhead Mountain [Los Angeles Co. ] (which probably reflect the now obsolete term “niggerhead” in the sense of Note that the term “Niggerhead” in place names may refer not to the head of a Negro, but rather to a flanged drum


So clearly,  the offensive term is well established in literature and placenames. It will take time and effort to remove it.

Remember the photo at the top of this story? Guess what the name of it was up until about a year ago.

Even politically correct California suffered (until recently) from a place called “Niggerhead Mountain” of which you can get an interactive map of right here at this link:

And while it still shows up in map databases, it too has recently been renamed:

History professor works to rename mountain in Los Angeles

Thanks to the work of a Moorpark College history professor, a Southern California mountain will be renamed to honor the man who first settled in the area and erase the original racial slur.

Good for him, it is the right thing to do. But it just goes to demonstrate that the current inhabitants of a place often get stuck with unfortunate names of the past, and that doesn’t necessarily make somebody who lives by that mountain in Los Angeles county a racist.

It also doesn’t make the people of Queensland, Australia, who have an island named “niggerhead”, racist. Wikipedia says:

Nigger Head is a small island in the Northern part of Shelburne Bay in far north Queensland, Australia about 30km North of Cape Grenville, Cape York Peninsula in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Queensland, Australia.[1] It is so named because it is an isolated coral outcrop; such outcrops were previously known as Niggerheads by British sailors.

And here it is, currently in the Australian Government Geoscience page:

I wonder if any Australian political candidates ever go fishing or diving near that island? Wow, wouldn’t that be a bombshell?

So clearly, with all the citations of “niggerhead” I found in books, maps, placenames, and professional journals, there’s a lot of work to do to erase the ugly and insensitive term. There’s also a lot of places where the term is used and there’s no outrage (yet).

In light of this, I think we all should cut Rick Perry some slack, because the one presidential candidate who would be the most offended by the term, Herman Cain, isn’t. From CBS News:

Cain said he is “done with that issue,” making the following comment in response to reporters’ questions: “Was I satisfied with Governor Perry’s explanation about the name of the ranch where he went hunting? And I said, ‘Yes I am. Next question.”

I suspect Perry told him some of the same things I learned about placenames and geography.

Now if we can just get those same reporters in the MSM to stop labeling skeptics with another ugly and offensive term “deniers” like Andy Revkin’s recent NYT story where he even goes so far as to promote a map, “A Map of Organized Climate Change Denial“, I and many others will feel far less offended.


Note to commenters and moderators – I will NOT tolerate anything offensive related to this story in comments. All such responses will be deleted. – Anthony

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Claude Harvey
October 3, 2011 10:31 pm

[snip – I see your point, but as you say in the comment best to leave this one alone – Anthony]

October 3, 2011 10:32 pm

We’ve had the same PC mentality over placenames here in Australia, too. See, for example, Years ago, a red-head would often accrue the nick-name “Bluey”; so (as the linked article tells) it was perfectly reasonable for a fair-skinned rugby player to acquire his nickname.
In the context of the time, it was perfectly acceptable. In the context of today, not so, and when the stadium was demolished it was proper to move on. But the PC mob want us to be ashamed of the past at every opportuinity…

Doug in Seattle
October 3, 2011 10:34 pm

I first came across the term when working in the NW Territories of Canada. This was in the late 1970’s and I was working at the time for the Geological Survey of Canada. We were encouraged to call the offending muskeg features “grassy tussocks”.
Also came across several streams with a similar, but shorter name in Canada, and the western US, that have long since had their names change to Negro Creek, but on old maps still had the original name. These were for the most part descriptive of the prospector who at one time mined on that creek. The term was not considered insulting, at least in white or native communities of the west and north, until the 1960’s (told to me by a mixed black and Indian guy in the Yukon Territory whose father was responsible for the name of one such creek). By the 1980’s all the maps got changed to reflect the times.

October 3, 2011 10:40 pm

Perhaps also of interest, since we are on the topic of racially charged words and political correctness. How about that word “niggardly”? Seems to get people in a heap of trouble.

Neil Jones
October 3, 2011 10:41 pm

Here in Switzerland (and in Germany) we have Mohrenkopf – Moor’s Head – , and there is no embarrassment at all with this traditional name. Check out all the names in the Wiki article to see the idea is all across Europe.

Earle Williams
October 3, 2011 10:42 pm

I can vouch for the use of the term in Alaska in describing muskeg tussocks. When walking through such a bog you want to either stay on the very tops hopping nimbly from one to another (not so easy as the age and weight creep upward) or slug through the mud around them.

Nigel S
October 3, 2011 10:43 pm

My Oxford Companion To Ships And The Sea has ‘..metal bollards that are so frequently found in British naval dockyards consisting of an old ship’s gun planted breech downwards and with a cannon ball slightly bigger than the bore fixed in the muzzle of the gum.’ Nautical terms are a rich source of offensive jibes (or gybes).
So bollards and bores pretty much sums up this latest tea cup storm.

October 3, 2011 11:00 pm

I once worked with someone who took offense at the use of “jig” for a dance or a particular tool type. It’s should only be offensive if it was meant to be so, don’t you think? If we find the word “denier” offensive should it be never used again or erased everywhere?

George Turner
October 3, 2011 11:00 pm

Even when things are less colorful, it still causes upset. Driving through Western Maryland I sometimes have to cross Negro Mountain, which is named for a free black who fought heroically on the mountain during the French and Indian War. And like the turning of the seasons, there’s always a new generation that reacts in mock horror and wants to rename it. The latest bill was earlier this year.
It failed in committee. The previous attempt to rename the mountain was by Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2007.

October 3, 2011 11:04 pm

Reminds me of when I was in Arizona a few years ago, some group was fighting to change the name of “Squaw Peak” because it was considered offensive (supposedly) to American Indians. I believe they won, too, though I don’t remember what they changed it to.
I kind of understand the point, but at the same time it’s a shame to see history wiped out in the name of political correctness.

October 3, 2011 11:07 pm

On a related note,
Where I grew up in England there were 2 nearby villages. One called Ugley and the other called Nasty
I recall cycling past the Ugley village hall and there was a sign outside that said,
Ugley Women’s Institute
Nasty was too small for either a village hall or a WI branch.

October 3, 2011 11:09 pm

There is an important omission in the NYT article. They note that: “the name was changed — painted out — soon after Mr. Perry’s father, Ray, joined the lease that gave him hunting rights about 30 years ago.” What they fail to note is that it was the Perry family that painted it over. So the real story is that the Perry’s are responsible for getting rid of the Niggerhead name, while the lede on the story in pretty much every newspaper has tried to charge the Perry’s with abiding the name. This is worse than burying the lede. They are inverting the lede, and in the NYT case, only half unburying it in the body.

October 3, 2011 11:11 pm

A rather niggardly use of language by the early explorers. Perhaps they and Perry should be punished./
But not the Washington Post reporter who likely used a regional name, in fact drenched the entire matter in a sauce of racism, that was buried over 40 years ago.

October 3, 2011 11:15 pm

Years ago I worked with an engineering crew building logging roads on the west coast of Canada. These are gravel roads, cut into the sides of mountains, in often very difficult terrain. Occasionally a big boulder is left buried in the road, and as the road wears down it gets the appearance of the top of a skull. Naturally enough at the time they earned the nickname “niggerheads”.
Over time as the road wears these become quite a hazard and must be removed. However, getting a large boulder out of a road can be surprisingly difficult even with heavy equipment, and does a lot of damage to the road.. The crew had a quick fix.
The standard practice was to place a 100 pound sack of ampho on top of the boulder and set it off with a cap and fuse. It did very little damage to the road, but the top foot or so of the boulder would shatter and some spade work would level things out quick enough.
Eventually in the early 70’s word came down from management that we were not to call them “niggerheads” anymore. From them on we were to call them “loggerheads”. This actually proved quite popular because there was quite a rivalry between the loggers and the engineers, each viewing the other as the source of all that was wrong in the world. The bast crew doubled up their efforts to removed the troublesome “loggerheads” every chance they got.

Gary Hladik
October 3, 2011 11:20 pm

“I had to go through Lubbock because I needed to go to Muleshoe, TX,”
Aaargh! Now you’ve gone and offended mulish-Americans, Anthony!

S Basinger
October 3, 2011 11:21 pm

^ Awesome story about how ‘loggerheads’ got their name.

October 3, 2011 11:22 pm

sigh 🙁
but on a lighter note:

J. Felton
October 3, 2011 11:29 pm

It’s interesting that the use of terms that many find offensive are often still used in places that would normally be described as ” off the beaten path”, like the area Anthony described in his post.
My family grew up in a tiny fishing town in the middle of nowhere, that stood beside a Native American reserve. My grandfather, a fisherman, was quite close to the tribe, and I still have good friends there. They have no shame in calling themselves ” Indians”, in fact, use it quite frequently. While many agree this is not a PC term, as Native Americans are by no means from India, the very people the term applies to use it frequently.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, many Natives i know living in the city abhor the term, and prefer to be called First Nations.
I’m not suggesting that smaller towns and villages are any less ” civilized” or anything like that, indeed, the best places to relax, IMO, are out in the country. But it’s interesting to see the evolution of language and terms none-the-less.

October 3, 2011 11:30 pm

Well since there is a logical explanation then I think people should stop reacting to it. I agree that it does sound very offensive but that’s how it’s called. It would be better for all concerned if they change it though.

Patrick Kelly
October 3, 2011 11:31 pm

Don’t believe the word “nigger has any wide usage in Australia as a pejorative term. So it wouldn’t be high on a list of “offensive” word. Actually the most offensive things around now are the campaigns and agenda driven policies aimed at wiping out offence. Be that as it may, I’d hazard a guess that Nigger Head is likely named after the popular fish otherwise known as Blackfish. As far as I know the fish aren’t offended although, no doubt, they would prefer that we didn’t hook them.

October 3, 2011 11:32 pm

In marine work, there are cleats or bollards for tying up a boat or ship., The type which were a short vertical cylinder with a flared top were known as “niggerhead bollards”. In England, the catalogs listed them as “negrohead” rather thzn niggerhead.

October 3, 2011 11:37 pm

Jewfish and blackfish are two popular fishing species in NSW. It was not uncommon for fishermen or even media reports to speak of catching plenty of “jews and niggers” over a weekend. Nowadays one still hears the expression “jewie”, but not the other. In the media, they say “mulloway” and “luderick”.
“Jewfish” was a reference to the species’ great marketability to kosher buyers, so hardly offensive. The other I’d call offensive and worth censoring; though if the word was apparent – maybe – on a rock on someone’s rented property, I wouldn’t devote a slab of the New York Times to the matter.
Of course, when the Journal of Reference talks of circling the wagons in West Texas, they are only maintaining a long tradition…of sloppy, biased reportage through puerile writing.

October 3, 2011 11:38 pm

Didn’t Herman Cain take offense to this also? And he is a republican, correct? You know, the flavor of the week candidate (Pailn’s words) from the republican party..

Fergus T. Ambrose
October 3, 2011 11:40 pm

Say goodbye to free pizza.

Politically Confused
October 3, 2011 11:45 pm

Prior to my retirement I used to teach a couple of courses in one of the local universities.
During one of my lectures, I had occasion to refer to “the black market”, in the context of the parallel economy in Germany in the aftermath of WWII.
One of the students, a young white girl, became quite outraged at this and accused me of being “offensive to black people”. She even went so far as to file a complaint with the department head.
In the subsequent disciplinary hearing, I was instructed to use another, less offensive, term.

October 3, 2011 11:46 pm

Muleshoe? Fort Sumner? Sheesh…! We could’ve met for lunch. One question though-is that your car in the two Ardmore pictures?
REPLY: No that’s a city of Ardmore vehicle in it’s designated parking space. BTW the MMTS in Fort Sumner we saw on Google street view is verified, and the observer at Muleshoe made no mention you had been there. – Anthony

Richards in Vancouver
October 4, 2011 12:05 am

The great (and much missed) George Carlin said everything sane and sensible about the use of the word “nigger” that need be said. I urge everyone to hunt for the piece on You Tube. In fact, I’ll do that myself when I get a moment, and paste the location here.
Carlin at his finest. And we all know how fine that could be.

Mark Folkestad
October 4, 2011 12:08 am

Back in the Seventies, at the University of Minnesota, I was in a dormitory lounge with friends talking about all topics concerning fishing. I was covering the physical changes to some species of salmon and trout during spawning, when the jaws distort. The term is “kype”. A leftist snot busybody nearby launched into an attack about my anti-semitic word. I was confused for a moment, until I realized that he was referring to an old slur starting with “k”. I tried to explain his mistake, but his anger grew. One of my friends, a Jewish girl, tried to bring the guy to his senses, but he just turned on her, accusing her of knuckling under to racist monsters. The lunatic wasn’t Jewish himself. I will never back down to ignorant jerks on PC matters.

Richards in Vancouver
October 4, 2011 12:30 am

Mod: Can’t find the Carlin piece on You Tube. Obviously not permitted. A very great pity. But funny too, in an ironic way. The Carlin rant was precisely against such censorship.

October 4, 2011 12:39 am

Neil Jones : Same in France. Here, the pastry you mentionned is still called “tête de nègre”.
Nègre/negro is certainly an offensive word in North America and Europe. Is it also the case in other countries / territories or other cultural contexts ? Not necessary.
For example, a current of the french litterature is called “négritude”. The concept of “négritude” was invented in the 30’s by a famous black writer native of the french Antilles, Aimé Césaire (and notably re-used by the african intellectual / leader Léopold Sédar Senghor). The term “négritude” has clearly a strong positive meaning.

Gareth Phillips
October 4, 2011 12:41 am

It is an interesting post Anthony. I must say though that the term is horrendously offensive in the same way as the term denier. There many sites who have used the term freely in the past, and now moderate and mention of it. It is not the word, it is as you rightly point out, the association. The word you refer to is also redolent of how inhumanly we have treated our fellow man. How we abused and killed them and saw them as subhuman.However we learned , we changed, we now hopefully understand the crimes that were committed. But just because some places still carry echoes of those terrible times does not make the name any less offensive and I believe they should be changed. After all, Would we be happy with names like Belsen road, Treblinka avenue or Ravensbruck hills? Like the word denier, these words carry an enormous power to hurt and offend . I would hope the local people would understand this and rename these places of their own volition without any need for legislation.
You may well have done a great service in raising this issue.

October 4, 2011 12:42 am

I was completely unaware of all the references to rocks, fish, etc. cited here in the comments.
Here is a one I seem to recall (very vaguely) from my youth. Wasn’t the term used for a variety of summer squash? . Perhaps. There seems to be no such usage now.

October 4, 2011 12:48 am

Some things are best left not to be commented on.
Point made Anthony.

Leo Norekens
October 4, 2011 12:49 am

@Neil Jones (October 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm)
“Here in Switzerland (and in Germany) we have Mohrenkopf – Moor’s Head – (…) and there is no embarrassment at all with this traditional name.”
I’m not so sure about that. German “Negerküsse” (sometimes “Mohrenköpfe”) have become “Schokoküsse” or “Schaumküsse”, French “Têtes de nègre” are now “Bisous de Mousse”, English “Negro kisses” were renamed “Angel Kisses” and Finnish “Neekerin suukot” have become “Brunberg suukot”.
In the Netherlands “Negerzoenen” were recently renamed “Buys Zoenen”, or simply “Zoenen”. See here, where the term has been removed rather awkwardly.
Note that, in all those languages, the term does not have the same racist overtone as its English equivalent, probably because there is not such a strong connotation with slavery.
Here in Flanders we can still call’em “Negerinnentetten” (yes, that’s “N’s tits” (!)), which makes more sense, come to think of it.
Anyway, even if you call them “chocolate-coated marshmallow treats“, they taste the same.

October 4, 2011 1:06 am

the australian slang term ‘Jewfish’ (for the mulloway) is a contraction of jewelfish which is a reference the the large colourful scale on these fishes heads. You havent lived till you have caught a big ‘jewie’ of the beach at night

October 4, 2011 1:10 am

If Americans are offended by such a name, they should check out some Portuguese locality names…

October 4, 2011 1:12 am

Of course things change their mreaning over time, but the offensive word is directly derived from the latin ‘nigra’ or black which is still commonly used in the plant world.
As such the word was a practical description rather than the offensive word it has become

John R. Walker
October 4, 2011 1:13 am

Soon everything will be grey and boring and our lobotomised brains will be pre-filled with an approved PC word-set which will be edited as necessary during our annual service so we can fulfill our pre-defined roles in society… The pen will no longer be mightier than the sword and a lot of us won’t want to live any more…
This article is another step along the way… What is it for?

Roger Knights
October 4, 2011 1:15 am

In 1962 I was at a very liberal small college in Vermont. Every other week or so a hiking club there posted notices on the bulletin board about its next upcoming excursion. One of them, posted without comment, was to “Niggerhead Peak.” I went on that hike, as I had done on a couple previously to other destinations.
Later, my black roommate asked me what I’d done on the weekend. I said I went on a hike up a hill. Recognizing my embarrassment and guessing its cause, he made a wry face and laughingly said, “Oh, the one up Afro-American Nose.” I was surprised that he took it so lightly, but I figured that this matter would have been low on the list of things blacks had to worry about at the time.

October 4, 2011 1:18 am

I am deeply offended by political correctness. Please rectify this immediately.

charles nelson
October 4, 2011 1:25 am

First take control of the language. Delete terms that are unsuitable introduce terms that are suitable.
Then re-write history. Delete events that are not appropriate and emphasize events that support the cause.
Destroy artefacts and evidence of previous civilizations or cultures or any objects regarded as sacred or significant.
Be careful how you respond to my comments…I have a thin skin and I am very easily offended.
Be careful how you react to my actions…we are well armed and we will exterminate you.
History 101

October 4, 2011 1:37 am

Neil Jones says:
October 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm
“Here in Switzerland (and in Germany) we have Mohrenkopf – Moor’s Head – , and there is no embarrassment at all with this traditional name.”
Here in Germany these have been renamed to “Schokoküsse” (Chocolate kisses – before that they were called Negerküsse – Negroe’s Kiss). Totally PC. Similarly, a chocolate-covered wafer sold as “Togo-Brot” (Togo Bread) sells now, obviously, as “Schoko something”.
Nothing remarkable; but Germany is extremely PC in this regard.

October 4, 2011 1:38 am

The anecdotes about “black market” and “kype” are in the same vein as the documented hysteria by the illiterate over “niggardly.”. Facts don’t matter to some people, they must have their self-righteous moment. And too often the relevant authority fails to check the nonsense. They’d rather capitulate to end the tantrum.
Great post, Anthony. I’ve never been anywhere near Muleshoe TX but I could almost see and feel the scene from your story.

October 4, 2011 1:52 am

Also add an Australian rainforest tree called “niggerhead beech” to the list. Just change it to negrohead and the meaning should still be there without any offence.

John Marshall
October 4, 2011 1:58 am

This smacks of the left wing PC media trying to get a presidential hopeful a bad name. Perry must strike back ASAP.

October 4, 2011 2:01 am

I also recall the term being used in the 1950s relating to boulders in farmers fields. Reading the citations and comments makes me wonder which use came first.

Adam Gallon
October 4, 2011 2:04 am

An interesting connundrum.
One can see the offence that these names can cause today, but the overly sensitive nature (as demonstrated by the objection to the use of “Black” virtually anywhere), has diluted the message, if not drawn it into disrepute.
There’s a type of seed, much loved by our Goldfinches, originally called “Niger Seed”, now often renamed “Nyjer Seed”.
That possibly is more of a comment on the standards of literacy amongst some of the UK population, than of political correctness.

Alexander L.
October 4, 2011 2:08 am

Personally I have troubles understanding this American obsession with PC.
The term “nigger” was offensive from the start as far as I’m aware.
Then the word “negro” became questionable and was replaced with “black”.
Then the word “black” became questionable and was replaced with “afroamerican”.
Now I wonder, just how long do we have to wait until “afroamerican” becomes questionable too? Probably not too long, my estimate would be a decade from now.
This leaves just one impression for those outside: that the American society does have a big ethnic problem (and probably more than one), but doesn’t have the guts to speak about it, and is trying to find refuge in word-games. 🙁

Dr A Burns
October 4, 2011 2:19 am

“Niger” in Latin means “black”. There is nothing more offensive in “black” hills than there is in brown or ochre.

October 4, 2011 2:22 am

Australian geologists used a dictionary of place names, the “BOM Gazetteer”. I’ve just searched for it to see it still has the location of Dripping Mickey Waterhole. Could not find it. Re reef structures still named niggerheads, one really has to see the verified origin of the word before calling foul. It’s quite possible it arose from “niggardly” meaning “recalcitrant”. In my school days in Australia in the 1940s there was no stigma associated with “nigger” because it was seldom heard around where I lived, though there were children from many countries in the classes. There were stainless steel cleaning pads called “Nigger Boy” and there was a type of sweet with licorice called “Nigger Boys”. I could go on and on, but the term was not meant to be offensive, so there is no reason for do-gooders to change it.
I once sat next to our Federeal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs while he berated me for calling an employee “Sambo”. I had little choice, because that was his baptismal name and he chose to have it used. The Minister said it was degrading. I said it was his name, period.
Just imaging what could be done with the snooker game “Pot Black”. Or the detergent advertised to give “The whitest white”. It’s about as relevant.
The dominant principle below this is that while you can make jokes about these matters, you have a healty relationship. When the jokes are used by others to impute evil, then you have a festering sore. There should be no legislation about “race”. We are all of the human race.

October 4, 2011 2:30 am

In Oklahoma, a common low-growing thistle with big round burrs was called niggerheads.
My father told a story about how his parents kept him in the yard by clever mowing. The middle part of the yard was kept clear, and the niggerheads (which wanted to grow everywhere) were left around the edge. Since he was always barefoot when outside, he quickly learned to stay in the yard. No discipline needed!

October 4, 2011 2:38 am

My last reply vanished, likely because I used the H-word. ( A German leader who caused great misery 1939-1945)

October 4, 2011 2:56 am

I remember from my youth in the 50s that the term was also used to refer to a variety of yam.

October 4, 2011 3:08 am

Where I come from , in England, there is still widespread prejudice against those ..(well the word has an ‘n’ an ‘i’ a ‘g’ another ‘g’ an ‘e’ an ‘r’ and an ‘s’)
we just dont like gingers around here…. except that bloke from Harry Potter

October 4, 2011 3:20 am

Peter Jackson is currently remaking the film The Dambusters in which Guy Gibson’s dog Nigger is knocked down and killed prior to the raid. His pets name was also the codeword for the succesful breaching of one of the dams.
Now I agree that such words should not be used and I’m fairly sure that the RAF would not allow it today but in Jackson’s film the word is replaced by “Digger”. PC yes but in other ways I feel that by changing history in this way we are denying the fact that such history existed and as such future generations cannot learn from it.
Gibson was a man of his times a world where calling a black lab “Nigger” was perfectly acceptable to the large majority of the population, denying this does a dis-service to those it really offends because we are saying, “it didn’t happen”.

Dr. John M. Ware
October 4, 2011 3:20 am

As a retired English teacher, I find it offensive to read the widespread nonsense about the fine old word “niggardly.” The word has nothing to do with race, but means “stingy, parsimonious, ungenerous, tight, selfish (with possessions or money)” and the like. It is in many cases the best word for the concept; some of the synonyms are too informal (stingy), pretentious (parsimonious), or inexact. Those who do not know how to use a word are in no position to criticize others who do know.

October 4, 2011 3:27 am

There’s a mountain in Alberta, just near Banff, that I grew up knowing as Chinaman’s Peak. Apparently it was honoring someone from all the way back in 1896.
That was deemed an offensive name and it’s now Ha Ling Peak.
I always thought it was a ridiculous piece of PC gone wild. At the time the mountain was named in his honor, it was a completely neutral term. Might as well have been Englishman’s Peak… does that offend anyone?

Jordan M
October 4, 2011 3:29 am

I’ve been reading through the James Bond novels, and the term niggerhead is used frequently in several of them refering to a piece of reef that is just awash at the surface. I wonder if it’s been changed in modern reprints…

October 4, 2011 3:30 am

Neat story, Anthony. I’ve driven, and ridden, through there countless times, never knew that even had a name there, much less what it is. I live west of Lubbock, in the geographically interesting town called Levelland (full HA at that one!). Next time you’re in the area, would love to buy you a beer, for all that you’ve done.

October 4, 2011 4:09 am

(This is a test, to see if my reply gets through if I remove the H-word.)
RE: “Like the word denier, these words carry an enormous power to hurt and offend…”
The power only exists if you give it to the offender.
All my life I have been called a “Yankee.” I have been told “Yankee go home,” in many lands, including “Dixie.” Being told to “go home” hurts, but the word “Yankee” never bothered me.
I went to an all-boy school in Scotland for a year, and the teasing was ruthless. It was referred to as “baiting,” and was part of a toughening-up process invented by boys for boys. (In a world where parents basically get rid of you, it does no good to be overly sensitive and to miss mother.)
I was given a number of offensive nicknames, including “Wankee Yankee,” but annoyed everyone by remaining serene and untroubled. Then, in the showers after a rugby match, it was noticed that my butt was light yellow while everyone else’s was white as suet. I explained this might be because I was one sixteenth Indian. My nickname immediately became the N-word.
After being baited for a week it finally got to me. During “prep,” ( a period when you are suppose to quietly do homework,) I turned beet red, broke into a sweat, trembled, and grabbed my tormenter and plunged him butt-first so deeply into a big waste paper basket that his knees were by his ears and he couldn’t get out.
That made the other fellows more cautious about using that nickname, and it also taught me that I am not so tough, and can be hurt. However I did not think I should remain so sensitive, and have a fit every time I was baited. (Even if you bully to a degree where no boy dares use a nickname to your face, boys are very crafty about using notes, graffiti and scrawled comics to get you riled up.)
Eventually I looked deep within myself and saw things about myself. Without boring you with the details of my introspection, I got to a place where I simply wasn’t so sensitive about getting called the N-word.
Now I think it is a bit pathetic when people are so indignant about being called names. So what if I am called, “Denier?” Churchill was called “War Monger” for saying (H-word) was dangerous. He was called that from 1932 straight through to 1939. It did not make him suck his thumb and run home to Mommy.
Words can’t hurt you unless you have a vulnerability. It pays to look hard at what that vulnerability is, and to think hard about whether you actually are ashamed about anything. Then get over it.
I’ll bet it doesn’t bother Hansen at all to be nicknamed, “Handcuffs.” He likely takes pride, and even swaggers a little. Mann, on the other hand, completely loses it and wants to sue everyone in sight at the drop of a hat, likely because deep down he has a huge vulnerability.

spangled drongo
October 4, 2011 4:14 am

John Masefield, poet laureate, wrote in his poem Spanish Waters:
We anchored in Loss Muertos when the dipping sun was red,
We left her half a mile to sea, to west of Nigger Head…….
Also that niggerhead coral these days is referred to as brain coral.
Masefield, Conrad and co would be sad about the change but certainly respect it.

Kelvin Vaughan
October 4, 2011 4:15 am

Originally the word nigger meant black.
Any word can be offensive if the reason for saying it was to give offence.

October 4, 2011 4:26 am

Interesting. When I removed the H-word my comment appeared as “awaiting moderation.” Perhaps the H-word is as bad as the N-word.
People are people. You cannot legislate spirituality. If people are fed up and want to offend you, they will find a way.
If PC talk gets power, and we all wind up bullied by the hate-crime police, people will just talk in code. Someone will walk up to you and say, “You Q-word, Z-word, F-word, P-word!” Then you will burst into tears.

Louis Hooffstetter
October 4, 2011 4:28 am

In the eastern US it was common for coal miners to refer to chunks of Pyrite that had to be separated from the crushed coal as ‘niggerheads’.
I’m sure there are many more examples of this term.

R. de Haan
October 4, 2011 4:36 am

It’s a white wash of history.
In the Netherlands the left want a decoration with black (slaves) serving the white masters painted on the Queen’s Golden Carriage removed.
We should be reminded about our past and where we come from.
Most of the time when history is changed, it is only done to make place for a new ideology.
So, you’re warned.

Brian H
October 4, 2011 4:44 am

Here’s an intercut Pryor/Carlin clip that probably has part of it:

It seems, pace Carlin, that the upshot is that us honky types aren’t allowed to say “nigger”. (The reverse appears not to apply, however.)
Just to get all abstract and biological about the shape and surface characteristics of “niggerheads”, it seems that round hair is straight, with minimal surface area and maximal heat retention, while oval hair curls, and nearly strip-like hair is tightly kinked/curled (with maximum surface area, hence maximum dispersal of sweat for cooling, and protection from sun and other heat sources). It’s all just functional adaptation.

Frank Kotler
October 4, 2011 4:48 am

What will we do if “politically correct” becomes an offensive term?

October 4, 2011 4:50 am

It wasn’t the Perry’s hunting ranch. It was a bit of land that they rented hunting rights on. That just means that they pay the rancher a set amount of money each year, and in exchange they don’t get arrested for trespassing when they go hunting on that land.

Mike M
October 4, 2011 4:51 am

IF … IF the word ‘nigger’ originally meant ONLY the color black in the origin of these terms then why should any of them be changed when they are not and never were a derogatory reference to black people in any way all? I think efforts to erase the term are a troubling sign of collective weakness.
It’s far more troubling to me to hear school age children speaking just about every vulgarity in the book than reading terminology from a by-gone era through today’s PC eye glasses.

October 4, 2011 4:54 am

This article was an unexpected one to say the least.
It is interesting how the overlap of politics and the global warming debate influence articles. Since it seems to be the same people that are pushing this foolish story about Perry, it only makes sense to once again point out just how foolish the story actually is.
Big round of applause for putting yourself out there on this one. I certainly did a double take as I was scanning the headlines.

October 4, 2011 4:55 am

RE: R. de Haan says:
October 4, 2011 at 4:36 am
Are you sure it is OK to use the expression, “White wash?”

Brian H
October 4, 2011 5:04 am

Kelvin Vaughan says:
October 4, 2011 at 4:15 am
Originally the word nigger meant black.
Any word can be offensive if the reason for saying it was to give offence.

Try Google Translate English → Spanish for ‘black’. I wonder how La Raza will take the news they’ve got to stop using it!
The Italian is interesting, too. The most disreputable of all Roman rulers was actually Emperor Black! History is way non-PC.

Mike M
October 4, 2011 5:05 am

R. de Haan says: It’s a white wash of history.

Yeah, if I was a black person I’d probably be fighting against this PC crap for that very reason. It all seems just a little too similar to how neo-nazis attempt to ‘erase’ the Holocaust.
If the word IS removed/changed in every book and map then it never existed and who stands to benefit from that? Certainly not black people…

Paul Coppin
October 4, 2011 5:07 am

What then, are we to do with the Caucasus Mountains….?

Ian W
October 4, 2011 5:20 am

As someone who travels frequently between Europe and around the USA I find the ‘politically correct’ statements to be very regional. So for in example in the USA it is fine to use a ‘Blackboard’ – indeed there is software of that name. In the UK those schools that still have them call them ‘Chalk Boards’ for fear of offending people by using the word ‘black’; similarly calling someone a real cracker in UK is a compliment but is insulting in the southern US. This demonstrates that the language itself is neutral it is the people that are taking offence – sometimes unnecessarily or more often to perpetuate their world view or their job in the professional ‘take offence’ industry.
I read a book sometime ago talking of the death of words as one that is considered rude or insulting is replaced by a euphemism that then itself becomes so widely used that it is considered rude and a new euphemism is invented to replace it.

October 4, 2011 5:26 am

One wonders how many newly schooled geologists know the old school name for ‘glacial erratic’.

Chris B
October 4, 2011 5:28 am

ferd berple says:
October 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm
Years ago I worked with an engineering crew building logging roads on the west coast of Canada. ….
As a Timber Cruiser on the Wet Coast of BC in the late 70’s I heard the offending term used as Fred describes, with the proviso that they were trying to stop it’s use. The evolution of language, I guess.

October 4, 2011 5:38 am

Has anyone read Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn?? It would make PC heads explode.
In PC America, even perfectly legitimate words are forbidden. And naturally, heads have already exploded over this.

pablo an ex pat
October 4, 2011 5:45 am

I am no fan of rap music although I think it’s quaint that it’s pronounced using a silent C. A year or so back I was using a walking path on a lake near to my home when I passed an athletic young black woman was going through a series of stretching excercises in the parking lot, car door open, music playing loud.
Couldn’t help but hear the lyrics which were suggesting that young black women like her were n*iggers and wh*res. She appeared to have no issue with this and gave me a wide eyed disgusted look when I politely asked her to turn it down a bit. It was a peaceful place where people go to relax and even ignoring the lyrics the “music” itself was offensive enough to the ears. If I recorded a song like that I’d rightly have the book thrown at me.

October 4, 2011 5:48 am

There are hundreds of words in many languages (not just English) which have more than a single usage or meaning. Chink is another (sound, narrow opening, person of oriental descent). Bastard is another (file, or person). And so on. Are we to purge all languages of all terms that could possibly offend anyone? I think not.

William Abbott
October 4, 2011 5:51 am

Metaphysics occasionally empowers words in a way completely alien to science. I mean; a word will take on so much connotation and emotive power that it not longer functions nominally, or merely nominally. YHWH is the most powerful example: unwritten & unspoken by the Jews. The ancient and forgotten crimes of blasphemy. The word that must never be spoken. Spells, curses, maledictions and blessings. Language is so arbitrary and uncontrolled. Perfectly good verbs like “gay” and “retard” morph into nouns of opprobrium. My point is the n-word’s descent into “a word that must not be spoken” is not a new or novel phenomenon. It’s just happening in our day and it does say something about our touchy race relations. BTW, fifty years ago anybody digging through glacial stone/till in the upper mid-west, pipe-liners, utility contractors, farmers, miners, whomever, called the bigger rocks niggerheads.

October 4, 2011 6:02 am

It is interesting that the media lied to connect the name to the Perry family and then persisted in calling it racially charged.
The question it raises is how many stories we see day to day are simply deliberate distortions of the the facts, designed to manipulate the public square?

October 4, 2011 6:04 am

The Nigger of the Narcissus a Tale of the Forecastle Joseph Conrad 1897. For another one.
Maybe Niger should change it’s name also.

Don Mattox
October 4, 2011 6:08 am

When I was a kid we use to call a specific type of nut (Brazil nut I think) a “nigger toe”.

Oscar Bajner
October 4, 2011 6:09 am

Wing commander Guy Gibson had a black labrador dog, called Nigger, predictably enough.
The original movie version of The Dam Busters featured three scenes with Nigger, who assumed the role of the “so cute”, and “so sad” device in the film.
I learned the movie has been remade recently, so I was curious if Nigger would be brushed from history. Apparently, the “so cute” “so sad” device works so well with a charming dog, there is still a black labrador featured. He has been “cunningly” renamed to Digger. Given the context of the time, and perhaps even now, calling your dog Digger might not have amused your Australian allies.
Homo Sapiens Post-Modernis is a peculiar species, happy to drown in obscenity and violence, but woe betide the UnPC.
And for R de Haan, who asked, yes indeed, at least here in PC South Africa, “whitewash” is now taboo.

Theo Goodwin
October 4, 2011 6:09 am

Great story! You are a natural story teller.

Paul Westhaver
October 4, 2011 6:18 am

Words are not, in of themselves, offensive. and Nobody has the right NOT to be offended.
Perry, whom I don’t like, should not be demagoged on this.
It is a faked story, designed to stir-up insincere people about trial things.

Paul Westhaver
October 4, 2011 6:19 am


October 4, 2011 6:21 am

One of the most humorous uses of the term is in the movie “Blazing Saddles”. The movie is still run frequently on AMC and other cable/satallite outlets, but with the term silenced. In college the friends of mine that laughed hardest were black when we would watch the movie. The lighthearted and humorous use, if allowed to be heard today, would likely go a long way to diffuse the perceived aggregiousness of the term.
Then again, taking offense to something is a choice. In my personal opinion, taking offense or insult is a position of weakness, or guilt. Whether you believe in God (or not), “turning the other cheeck” is ALWAYS done from a position of strength and righteousness. Knowing that you have superior (insert quality) than the one attempting to insult or offend and choosing not to take the offense is the position of strength.
Then again, taking the care with your fellow man not to intentionally offend them shows love. Unintentional offense should be forgiven and quietly explained in private. Having the wisdom to recognize that perceived offense when none is intended, such as the current discussion surrounding place-names and descriptive terms for objects and organisms, is constructive. It’s just a shame that it will only reach a few tens of thousands of readers.

More Soylent Green!
October 4, 2011 6:21 am

I’m never one to bow to P.C., but I don’t support using that word anywhere. It truly is offensive.
You can’t have a rational discussion about it. Maybe we should be able to use that word (if anyone can, then all should be able to), but you have to pick your fights and it make little sense to fight in favor of using it.
Speaking of fights, anybody remember the scene in ‘Rush Hour’ where Chris Tucker takes Jackie Chan into an inner city bar?

October 4, 2011 6:24 am

CodeTech says:
October 4, 2011 at 3:27 am
Thanks CodeTech, i was going to remark on that same story, but thought I would check first to see if someone else mentioned it.

Doug in Seattle
October 4, 2011 6:26 am

Smokey says:
October 4, 2011 at 5:38 am
Has anyone read Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn?? It would make PC heads explode.

Funny you should mention that. It seems some folks here in America have been quite strident about censoring that book. In some libraries they are replacing the original with a sanitized version.

Pamela Gray
October 4, 2011 6:31 am

A proper search of roots and affixes sometimes gives a whole new light to what some mistakenly call racist slurs. While this search may not pertain to niggerheads, it also just might. Words change, as do their meanings, as centuries erase their true origin.

Leon Brozyna
October 4, 2011 6:33 am

Well written piece about an explosive subject.
Words and sounds and the connotations they evoke in the minds of the listener. Don’t blame the word; blame what’s between the ears of listener and speaker.
On being sent to my first duty station in the military (Bangkok, Thailand), I was placed on a charter flight which also included wives and children. On arrival, we were all seated in a large hangar. As a very young and fairly innocent soldier seated among other single soldiers as well as wives and children, I was shocked to hear the clear, sing-song cry of one of the native lizards, “phuckyou, phuckyou”. To the local populace, it was just a sound the lizard made, bearing no special meaning. It was just the baggage of the listener that lent it special meaning (and embarrassment), especially in a social context. (I never really “heard” it after that during my three year stay; it just became part of the sound that surrounded me.)
I don’t doubt that in a couple centuries, the term “nigger” may still appear in obscure places. And when it does, people will use it without ascribing any special significance to it, unless they explore its etymology.
Joseph Conrad’s 19th century novella, The Nigger of the Narcissus: A Tale of the Sea, when first published in the U.S., had its title changed by the publisher to, The Children of the Sea: A Tale of the Forecastle, not for any concerns about offending anyone’s sensibilities, but because the publisher was concerned that there was no market for a book about a black man, James Wait. Thanks to Wikipedia I’ve learned that stupidity knows no bounds and that a bowdlerized version has been published, The N-word of the Narcissus, in which the term “n-word” replaces the term “nigger” throughout the book. I suppose that’s a rather lame way of making a statement without wishing to offend … which manages to offend in any case. Why not just change the title to, James Wait of the Narcissus: A Tale of the Sea and replace the term “nigger” with the man’s name in a manner appropriate to the context, e.g. Jim, James, Wait, Mr. Wait, etc. The editor could then write a preface, explaining the changes made to the original and why. It seems that sometimes, intelligence ends where political correctness begins. While Conrad wrote about isolation and solidarity, today it’s seen as an early study in race relations. Again, modern intellectual baggage. Where race was incidental in the story, through modern eyes it becomes the key factor. It says less about Joseph Conrad’s story than it does about the barrenness of the modern mind.
Trivia note:
Forecastle is not pronounced the way it’s spelled … it’s more like folksuhl.
Bowdlerize … name derived from Thomas Bowdler, early 19th century physician who edited Shakespeare by omitting or changing words not suitable for women and children. The irony? He didn’t do any editing, his sister did, but 19th century sensibilities couldn’t admit to a woman understanding certain vulgarities.

October 4, 2011 6:35 am

Today the so-called N word is a chip upon the shoulder of many Blacks. I’m White, My Mother was British subject and my Dad was second generation Hungarian. As a child, I was to call Black people “colored people” or “negroes. The N word was an offense and my family was not allowed to use it.. I won’t claim I’ve never uttered the word, but it was not in my usual vernacular.
One day at work, (1990’s) I happened into a conversation between a white co-worker and a black co-worker about how whites should never use the N word. I said “black people say it all the time”.
I was set upon by my black friend in a suprising (to me) fashion ” Finger pointing in my face: “that’s our word. you can’t use it. If I ever hear you say it I’ll beat your ass” After that threat of violence, I did not consider him a friend anymore.

October 4, 2011 6:35 am

Political correctness is an attempt to be kind, but you cannot be kind by oppressing. Furthermore, oppressed people delight in breaking the rules of those who oppress, when they can get away with it. For example, check out how many compound words begin with the N-word in the urban dictionary:

October 4, 2011 6:36 am

Anthony, very interesting history. Thanks for providing it.
There’s a river in Canada, FYI, named the Darky river. Presumably a similar story.
Yet, if I had owned a ranch with that name, I would have changed it. I feel my obligation is more to people alive today than to the history of a name. Why cause offense to people you know will be offended? Isn’t that just basic politeness?

Dave Springer
October 4, 2011 6:48 am

“so I thought I’d share what I learned about this ugly and offensive term and how surprising the wide and varied use of it is.”
Judging the number of black comedians who use the term “nigger” as a staple word in their skits and do it primarily because non-black comedians can’t get away with it I find the whole brouhaha over the term and how very offensive it is to be politically contrived.

October 4, 2011 6:50 am

When it was named….that was not a bad word

October 4, 2011 6:51 am

This says volumes:
The comment before this one says, “Yet, if I had owned a ranch with that name…”
Sorry guys, all I can say begins with a bunch of EXPLITIVES. “If I had owned a ranch with that name..” Can I suggest, even as in evaluating the Al Gore claim that he said, “When I INVENTED the internet…” versus what he REALLY SAID, “When I helped initiate the internet..” (I don’t LIKE Al Gore, but I won’t put words in his mouth when I know they are not true.) Similarily, we do now know that the “offending rock” is NOT ON PERRY PROPERTY. It is about 1/4 mile away on a trail head.
The only Perry connection (good Lord people pay attention) is that Perry’s FATHER painted it over (or had it painted over) in 1983. Because, by darn…HE thought it was offensive. White, bigoted, racist, Texan that he was…\sarc. So any other VERSIONS of this sad fabrication of a crisis are media manipulation. Who knows, maybe Perry likes this…faux controversy. He may come out looking GOOD in the end.

Dave Springer
October 4, 2011 7:12 am

Jon Stewart Daily Show skit on Perry’s niggerhead.
Scroll down to the bottom for the video.
Looks like it’s being called Niggergate already.

Bob Moss
October 4, 2011 7:12 am

The state of Minnesota decided that “squaw” was a perjorative term and ordered that all place names containing that term must be renamed.
One locality took advantage of the opportunity and renamed their Squaw Lake to Lake Wahbegon.

October 4, 2011 7:13 am

Best place name ‘Uck’
Best road sign ‘No Ucking U-Turns’.

October 4, 2011 7:15 am

[SNIP: Sorry you don’t like the moderation policies. Feel free to create your own blog and run it as you wish. REP]

Mac the Knife
October 4, 2011 7:19 am

Paul Coppin says:
October 4, 2011 at 5:07 am
“What then, are we to do with the Caucasus Mountains….?”
I suggest we whitewash the problem….

October 4, 2011 7:23 am

Necro – classic Greek with a connotation of dead.
Niger – Latin ,the color of black, niger nigra nigrum
Negro – Spanish masculine black
Ebony – Greek ebeninos (perhaps Egyptian), Latin ebeninus
Negr – Russian black
Nigeria, river, Republic of Niger.
Neger – 1550 Scottish
Negre – French
Physical Anthropology – ‘race Reconciled re-debunked’. Why use the old time ‘outdated’ race classification. PC is and will be for at least for the next 100 years a genuflect of religious cultism.The use of bare bone analysis in forensic evidence classification without the use of DNA machinery. And there is a debate within Climate study-prophecy today?
What is a word worth? Redneck 1750 North American Colony of New Hampshire or Massachusetts. One that tills his own land, hoe in hand with a bowed back, hair bunned on head top (unless treating for head lice) for cooling, exposing the white neck to sun burning. Term used mostly as a class position by a Barron of large land holding usually with conservative loyalty to the King.

Wayne Ward (truthsword)
October 4, 2011 7:48 am

I wonder why some PC types haven’t gotten Grand Teton National Park renamed, or the Grand Tetons range renamed…
Also I grew up in a predominately black area of Georgia in the 70’s-80’s. We called Brazil Nuts, Nigger Toes… oddly enough so did every black person I knew in that area, and they were so marked in grocery stores. Why wasn’t that an offensive term at the time? Why was our local color for “are you kidding me” (niggah please) not offensive then or now as it is still used by people today? This is just silly.

October 4, 2011 8:04 am

It is a shame that certain liberal pressure groups have banned the Latin word for ‘black’. Perhaps they shall ban the colour ‘green’ next. So our traffic lights will now go: “red, orange, and **!!**!* “. Arrest that man immediately…..!
Just to add fuel to the fire, my neighbour’s Christian name is Coon. Apparently, it is a common name in Holland, and he is fed up of people trying to ban his name. I have been advised that Mark and John are the next names that are going to be banned by the liberal media.

October 4, 2011 8:09 am

>>Trivia note:
>>Forecastle is not pronounced the way it’s spelled … it’s more
>>like folksuhl.
Trivia, trivia note:
It may be pronounced as ‘folksuhl’, but it actually does mean ‘forecastle’ – it is the castle at the front of the ship. (Traditional ships had two fortifications, one at the front and one at the back.)
Just goes to show how pronunciation slips with time.

October 4, 2011 8:10 am

Wayne Ward (truthsword) says:
October 4, 2011 at 7:48 am
I wonder why some PC types haven’t gotten Grand Teton National Park renamed, or the Grand Tetons range renamed…
The name should be changed. From Wikipedia: The most common explanation is that “Grand Teton” means “large teat” in French …
Frankentits might be a more politically correct name? However, the Tetons are natural, while excessively large enhancements are not.

October 4, 2011 8:27 am

It’s my understanding that Language is the communication device. With intonations and body language to accent the true meanings of the words. I believe that Politically Correct is an unjustifiable argument to the first amendment. Everyone knows that you can’t please all the people all the time. It’s impossible. In this context, as an American Citizen I suggest we change the Title of all Americans to be American first. A born in this country American should be identified as such. American African, American Jewish, American French etc… Not the other way around. Just my opinion.

October 4, 2011 8:33 am

By the way, I have two stories I want to share from my trip to E3 in Atlanta in 1997… I know, but…
I was at Subway, asking for black olives. The black girl behind the counter told me they don’t call them black, they’re “ripe”. So I asked for ripe black olives. The reaction was about what you’d expect.
And, I was at KFC ordering a thigh and a leg. Without even a hint of evil intent in my head, I advised her that I prefer dark meat. It actually took me several seconds of looking at her horrified expression to even realize that the phrase meant something else in Georgia than at home…

October 4, 2011 8:37 am

@Leon Brozyna
Well said, sir. All this elephantine straining over very little has almost completely avoided the word “etymology”. Turns out ignorance is not bliss.

Theo Goodwin
October 4, 2011 8:49 am

Robroy says:
October 4, 2011 at 6:35 am
“One day at work, (1990′s) I happened into a conversation between a white co-worker and a black co-worker about how whites should never use the N word. I said “black people say it all the time”.
I was set upon by my black friend in a suprising (to me) fashion ” Finger pointing in my face: “that’s our word. you can’t use it. If I ever hear you say it I’ll beat your ass” After that threat of violence, I did not consider him a friend anymore.”
The idea that a group of people can own a word is relatively rare though I have run into it. Not long ago someone argued to me that “lynching” is a word that belongs to African-Americans because the word was created to describe this unique way of killing African-Americans in the old days. Producing a historical record that referred to the lynching of one of my ancestors in 1650 was of no avail in this argument.
“Shillelagh” might be a word that belongs to the Irish or maybe all Celts on the British Isles. But in this case the claim that the word belongs to one contemporary group is simply amusing.

Doug Proctor
October 4, 2011 8:51 am

In the mid-70s I did field work for uranium and base metal exploration in the Northwest Territories of Canada, above tree-line some 100 kilometers or so from the Arctic Ocean. The tundra up there is permafrost less than a meter down, so water does not seep deep into the ground. On flats you get streams and ponds, and on the hillsides you get swampy ground. Freeze-thaw cycles push dirt up and, where the ground is higher and not sodden, greater-than-average grass growth. The result is a patch of grassy slopes that looks smooth from a distance but is actually humps of grass and earth about 30 cm in diameter separated by wet lows about 30 cm deep. Walking through these is brutal, as you slip off the mounds and twist your ankle or walk in freezing water between the mounds … and twist you ankle. I was laid up for 3 days once.
The mounds were called niggerheads. Clearly of a racially motivated origin, but since then simply a difficult type of high latitude, wet ground topology. When I first was there I was appalled. After a while it slipped into the vernacular. Like all the cursing we were doing, if you do it enough it loses its original meaning and becomes offensive only to the new fellows.
I don’t know what to actually call these features, but I certainly wouldn’t use the term now.
I’m surprised Perry didn’t do something about the ranch name. Duh.

October 4, 2011 8:52 am

Years ago I bought canned oysters under the brand “Niggerhead”. That was later changed to “Negro Head”. I don’t know what the brand is nowadays, since I haven’t bought canned oysters for years. Nowadays I go down to Gilhooleys for barbecued oysters on the half shell. If you want a shrimp on top of each, order the Shrimphooleys. In Bacliff south of Kemah, TX.

Theo Goodwin
October 4, 2011 8:57 am

Doug in Seattle says:
October 4, 2011 at 6:26 am
“Has anyone read Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn?? It would make PC heads explode.”
What about “Blazing Saddles?” In that day, 1975 or so, the cultural context was so very different. Everybody on the Left embraced the movie as hip and cool. I think the culture wars were far less hysterical in those days.
By the way, “Huckleberry Finn” is a masterpiece of dialect among other things.

October 4, 2011 8:59 am

@Philip Bradley (October 3, 2011 at 11:07 pm) – Don’t forget the Idle Working Mens club near Bradford.
@Frank Kotler says (October 4, 2011 at 4:48 am) – “Politically Correct” is pretty much an offensive terms already. It’s definately a joke now a days. To be called PC is to be called an authoritarian fascist. The term is used in newspapers to highlight stupid stories where authority gets it wrong – like a recent case where Guy Fawkes night (Nov 5) in a London borough is going to be called “The Colour Thief: A Winter Extravaganza”.

October 4, 2011 9:01 am

Years ago I worked on a large greenfield construction project doing the cost accounting. The guys doing the civil work said they were ordering a load of niggerheads. Everyone seemed to know what they were talking about except me so I asked. It turns out they were talking about oversized hunks of gravel (think larger than a softball) used for fill. They also used concrete vibrators which excited my secretary. So did the peckerheads that the electricians kept talking about. It’s a weird world.

Brian H
October 4, 2011 9:02 am

Prediction: the more vociferous the left/PCists in banning a word or attitude, the more it will be flaunted and embraced by the counter-culture.
C-Rap is actually Convict/Gangsta Rap, prison chants of the densest concentration of offensive words and ideas possible, to both insult and drive out those “in charge”. Celebration of oversize XL pants and shirts, issued by (men’s) prison admins not up to the logistics of fitting, not to mention tracking (hip-huggers suggests women’s prisons chose the opposite size solution), is more of the same.
Every toddler learns the power of defiance in garnering and manipulating attention. The PC response is like removing every source of irritation a 2-yr old can find. Good luck with that.

October 4, 2011 9:05 am

George Turner says:
October 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm
Even when things are less colorful, it still causes upset. Driving through Western Maryland I sometimes have to cross Negro Mountain, which is named for a free black who fought heroically on the mountain during the French and Indian War. And like the turning of the seasons, there’s always a new generation that reacts in mock horror and wants to rename it. The latest bill was earlier this year.
George, I’m very near Polish mountain (it’s a beautiful area). I like the comment by the Cumberland guy in your link that says “I’m Irish. I’d love to have a mountain named Irish mountain….”
I suppose I should be offended by the Caucasus mountains in east Asia….. (Oops, I see others already mentioned this)

October 4, 2011 9:08 am

Hey Anthony – it was not Rick Perry’s hunting lodge. He did not own it, he rented it. I think you should correct your post.
REPLY: Added “leased plot” to make that clear – Anthony

October 4, 2011 9:16 am

I often used a geologic map of the Blue Ridge that had a mountain named “Negro Mountain”. Wanna bet that wasn’t always its name?
Out in the Rockies there is a high point with the official name of “Mollys Nipple”, surely someone can be outraged at that.

October 4, 2011 9:24 am

There are entire countries that are named this way.
Nigeria and Republic of Niger are two examples that come to mind.
Is it possible for our mainstream media to be any more silly and puerile?

Gareth Phillips
October 4, 2011 9:37 am

It’s interesting how many posters defend the use of this word on various pretexts. Hey! they are only words eh!. I wonder if they are just as happy to have the word “denier” used against them?

Dave Springer
October 4, 2011 9:46 am

Gareth Phillips says:
October 4, 2011 at 9:37 am
“It’s interesting how many posters defend the use of this word on various pretexts. Hey! they are only words eh!. I wonder if they are just as happy to have the word “denier” used against them?”
I couldn’t care less if someone calls me a denier.
Making a fuss over a word just empowers the negativity associated with it. Stop letting it bother you and people will give up on trying to get a reaction out of you with it.

Paul Westhaver
October 4, 2011 10:07 am

Gareth Phillips,
I am a denier according to the greenies. Their use of the word in that context says more about them than it says about me. I like that they say it, it defines them. Just as the word greenie, as I put it, says something about me too. It says I have contempt for people that put the earth before mankind… it says I dislike them… it says that I don’t identify with them, .. It says that they have made a religion of the earth,…it says that I think better of myself then I do them. All of which is true.
There is no convention that says that I should not be insulted and there is none that says you or anyone else should not be insulted rebuked or called out for whatever reason. That is the beauty of free speech.
Gareth you don’t have the right to not be offended. Consider yourself insulted for being such a infantile, weak and ineffectual advocate of the hoax of AGW.

October 4, 2011 10:08 am

Another use of the term “niggerhead” was for plants. In parts of western Texas it was used for a type of wildflower, and in the Midwest I heard it used to refer to a type of prickly black burr (larger than a beggar tick).
Several years ago either PETA or the Humane Society lobbied to have Catskill and some other —kills renamed because they promoted violence against animals. Yes, “kill” comes from the Dutch for a small creek or stream.

Dave Springer
October 4, 2011 10:08 am

woodNfish says:
October 4, 2011 at 9:08 am
“Hey Anthony – it was not Rick Perry’s hunting lodge. He did not own it, he rented it. I think you should correct your post.”
REPLY: Added “leased plot” to make that clear – Anthony
“Deer lease” is the common term. It just means you purchased the right to hunt on someone else’s land and won’t get arrested for trespassing. Terms vary but often it’s a year-long lease and includes a designated place for a semi-permanent camp or lodge. It’s certainly not unique to Texas nor unique for hunting purposes.

October 4, 2011 10:21 am

Racial politics is destroying the West. No doubt the Squaw Lakes will soon be assigned politically correct names. And then there’s the Cleveland Indians. The Stanford Indians have already gone to the happy hunting grounds.

Tim Clark
October 4, 2011 11:09 am

Another term in use to name lakes, etc. that some find offensive, albiet not racially disparaging, is Peckerhead.

Tim Clark
October 4, 2011 11:18 am

“I wonder why some PC types haven’t gotten Grand Teton National Park renamed, or the Grand Tetons range renamed…
The name should be changed. From Wikipedia: The most common explanation is that “Grand Teton” means “large teat” in French …”
If you’ve ever been to Denver International Airport, you’ll understand why locals call it the “sow barn” or t.ts up.

Rational Debate
October 4, 2011 11:51 am

We seem to very much be moving into an Orwellian world of “zero tolerance” and “political correctness” where years ago, context was everything. You could tell a racial joke using your own race or another, and everyone thought it was funny if the person telling it wasn’t doing so to offend, and if the person telling it wasn’t racist. Usually it was pretty easy to tell, and if you weren’t sure, you gave the person the benefit of the doubt until you were around them a bit more and knew. People would often laugh at a good hearted person telling an ‘off color’ joke, but shut down someone telling the same joke out of spite or racism. Now so many of those jokes would immediately offend, shock, cause a furor, get you fired, etc. no matter the spirit in which it’s told.
This attitude, that we can default to zero-tolerance, that we no longer have to think or discriminate (in the sense of discerning the difference) but just default to PC, is doing great harm to all of us. This is how six year olds wind up handcuffed by police and arrested because they had a temper tantrum at school. How we don’t have wars, but overseas contingency operations – and communication loses real meaning. One aspect of this I’ve never understood is how it’s ok and ‘free speech’ to use highly offensive obscenities, but utterly condemn these various non-PC words or phrases. As another poster said so well: “I am deeply offended by political correctness. Please rectify this immediately.”
Reminds me of the furor a few years ago over the term “black hole” – and how utterly shocked I was that anyone could mistake the term for a racially connoted one, particularly in the context used in this particular case.
Texas County Official Sees Race in Term ‘Black Hole’ – Politics …,2933,380143,00.html – Similar
Jul 11, 2008 – “It sounds like Central Collections has become a black hole,” Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said during the Monday meeting. …
And to destroy history because someone today might be offended at reading or hearing about what really occurred? (e.g., the efforts that are being made to change terms and names in literary classics such as Huckleberry Finn) That’s an absolute outrage, a travesty, an Orwellian nightmare.
Another example of the evolution of terms to be PC, is the hijinks over the years related to mental retardation with one word replacing another as each in turn became ‘offensive,’ even tho it’s common use began specifically because the ‘new’ term was not offensive and was replacing one that supposedly was. Heck if I recall the correct order, or feel like looking the issue up again to reconstruct, although I did so a few years ago for a post related to political correctness, but the terms moved from imbecile to moron to mongoloid (not all are) to down’s syndrome (not all are) to retarded to mentally handicapped to mentally challenged to developmentally delayed… I’m sure there were other terms in there that I’ve missed. Most recently in the USA we’ve been treated to our congress decreeing that the word retarded shall be removed from all federal documents – which, if I understood correctly, meant that we’re paying the cost to have all federal documents and regulations searched for the word, and re-issued with whichever proper ‘non-offensive’ term was deemed appropriate.
I’m offended at the gross waste of money. It would be one thing if they just ordered that anything new published would be with the replacement, but anyone who’s ever been involved in producing documents knows there’s a large expense involved in making “simple” after the fact revisions – let alone in the utter reams of federal documents that exist.
Other’s have mentioned the gross double standard some display where it’s fine for blacks to use the n-word, but not for whites. Insanity. Headlines in just the past week or so were about Whoopi Goldberb debating this very issue with Barbara Walters etc., on “The View.” It’s not the first time, and Whoopi feels it’s absolutely fine for blacks to use the term, but not whites. I’m every bit as offended hearing said by a black person as a white person – sorry, if I move to ‘african-american’ I’d have to also move to ‘england-american, irish-american, chinese-american, and so on. Only are these terms all too often incorrect because the person isn’t actually of that decent, or they’re a part of the American Melting Pot, etc. Worse, it’s also grossly counterproductive – we are AMERICANS, and it’s important that people view each other and themselves in a cohesive positive fashion rather than a race-baiting segregating negative fashion.
Actually, I’m a bit more offended when a black person uses the n-word than a white, both because of the double standard, and because I can’t for the life of me see why anyone would want to apply what is seen as such a negative term to themselves or their race. Yet when between individuals who know each other, and who don’t use a racially based double standard, then while using derogatory terms meant as a positive and received as such may not be the greatest thing psychologically, it is a matter context, just as the off-color jokes I’d mentioned earlier, now isn’t it?
Then there is that little thing called free speech, which means we ought to ban any talk of needing to be politically correct in speech. 😉

Gareth Phillips
October 4, 2011 11:55 am

Paul Westhaver says:
October 4, 2011 at 10:07 am
Gareth Phillips,
I am a denier according to the greenies. Their use of the word in that context says more about them than it says about me. I like that they say it, it defines them. Just as the word greenie, as I put it, says something about me too. It says I have contempt for people that put the earth before mankind… it says I dislike them… it says that I don’t identify with them, .. It says that they have made a religion of the earth,…it says that I think better of myself then I do them. All of which is true.
There is no convention that says that I should not be insulted and there is none that says you or anyone else should not be insulted rebuked or called out for whatever reason. That is the beauty of free speech.
Gareth you don’t have the right to not be offended. Consider yourself insulted for being such a infantile, weak and ineffectual advocate of the hoax of AGW.
Gareth responds
Paul, I am also accused of being a denier by your “greenies” I just happen to be that rarest of creatures, a left wing European environmentalist who believes that climate science has been corrupted and as a result undermined the whole ecological movement. I am grateful for your ad hominem attack, as Mr.Churchill alluded, if no-one ever insults you or hates you, you have never stood up for anything you believe in.
I guess by your thinking no-one has the right to be offended by speech. I guess you would include the victims of the psychopaths who blew up the twin towers and those who laugh at the funerals of soldiers. I just happen to disagree and believe that words have power, especially when they are used in a careless way.
However I agree that the use of such terms says more about the person making the statement, than it does about the target of their ire. Hopefully you understand that while we may wear the badge of denier with honour, the use of the term by the climate Taliban is designed to associate you and I to the some of the most horrendous crimes ever perpetrated by human beings. It is a term used with malice, much the same way as racist terms. A young black man may wear the racist badge with honour in the same way as you wear the badge of denier, but I would suggest that no-one called you this in a bar, or indeed addressed the young black man in the terms used in this debate.

R. Craigen
October 4, 2011 12:28 pm

Well done, Anthony. It’s nice to see a bit of level-headed straight talk on this. The word is what it is, and it ain’t going away any time soon. Let’s all be more concerned about real discrimination and bigotry and less sensitive with hair triggers all over the language, looking for offense around every corner.
Personally I think a far bigger story concerning prejudice, offense and racial supremacism is the photos that have just surfaced of BHO appearing in Black Panthers rallies, marching in the streets with Black Panther leaders, a Black Panther Party endorsement that appeared on Obama’s official campaign website, the White House’ intervention in a DOJ investigation into Black Panther violation of election laws, and the visits of Black Panther leaders to the White House during BHO’s presidency. If we’re going to be concerned about racial supremacist connections in American politics, let’s look where there’s actual substance, not a name painted on a rock many years ago.

October 4, 2011 12:56 pm

Alexander L. says on October 4, 2011 at 2:08 am
Personally I have troubles understanding this American obsession with PC. …

Press, it is a ‘press’ obsession (think: liberal arts degree with ‘communications’ as the major).

October 4, 2011 1:18 pm

When I was littler, the term, if I recall correctly, wasn’t quite a zit but it was a small raised piece of skin with the top looking like a piece of soil. We used to pinch them off just like zits.

October 4, 2011 1:28 pm

A true story from long ago to demonstate that you should perhaps just accept that shit happens.
The Niger is a river in Nigeria.
Nigeria was the largest African colony in the British Empire and became independent in 1960.
The event was treated with great seriousness by the BBC , who started the (I think 8 am ( but its a long time ago )radio news , then the most important news programme of the day except perhaps for the 6 p m news, with Jack De Manio ( what a wonderful man – I wonder how many U K readers remember him?) saying this as first item up:-
“Today is a very important day in the land of the Niger..” but alas , by a slip of the tongue, he pronounced the word as if it had 2 Gs and not 1.
V V Embarassing , but , though he afterward said that he had realised his error , he just went on with the piece and hoped nobody else noticed:but they did,boy did they notice!

October 4, 2011 1:31 pm

>>Another use of the term “niggerhead” was for plants. In parts of western
>>Texas it was used for a type of wildflower,
And in Australia these plants are called blackboys:
Liberals say the term refers to an Aborigine with a spear, and it is offensive. I always thought that it was not a spear, and it was in fact an Aboriginal boast…. 😉
Just goes to show that the liberals can make a huge fuss and scandal about nothing, just to denigrate normality and replace it with their Orwellian Doublespeak.

October 4, 2011 1:44 pm

In a post above, I said that if it had been me, I would have changed the name so as not to give offense to people who wouldn’t like the name. Just being courteous.
Turns out that is what the Perry family actually did. Here is what I just read in the NY Times of Oct. 3 (I guess I’m behind the times):
“…Mr. Perry’s campaign did not dispute that the slur was used as a name for the property, but in a statement it said the name was changed — painted out — soon after Mr. Perry’s father, Ray, joined the lease that gave him hunting rights about 30 years ago.”
That is exactly what Max Hugoson said, but I didn’t see a source until now. As Max says, this account may cause Perry to come out pretty good, and the Wash Post pretty bad — just another MSM smear attempt, like Dan Rather’s of many years ago, only easier to rebut.

Brian H
October 4, 2011 1:48 pm

Rational Debate says:
October 4, 2011 at 11:51 am

Actually, I’m a bit more offended when a black person uses the n-word than a white, both because of the double standard, and because I can’t for the life of me see why anyone would want to apply what is seen as such a negative term to themselves or their race.

As indicated by Pryor in the Youtube above, it’s used to reaffirm the black claim to victimhood; it says “We are the oppressed, who have major moral mojo over the oppressors”. And there are lots of subtleties in how it’s used in that general sense. You will notice that those blacks who explicitly renounce the victimhood ploy and shortcut to cheap moral status do not use the term, except to refer to those who have surrendered to the Great Society of professional losers.

Paul Westhaver
October 4, 2011 2:45 pm

To Garth the troll…
he said”I guess by your thinking no-one has the right to be offended by speech. I guess you would include the victims of the psychopaths who blew up the twin towers …..
No. You are stupid if you believe this. I don’t see how “rights” have anything to do with someone perceiving that they have had their feeling hurt…..People get offended if you pronounce their name wrong or any number of things.. Offense is what happens to the recipient. Be offended or not, it is up to you and….you don’t have the right NOT to be offended… Not the twisted logic you stated.
… and what does killing people and property destruction have to do with free speech….. oh right… to Garth the demogogue, they are the same thing.
Stick and stones may break my bones but names shall never hurt me.

October 4, 2011 4:02 pm

The fuss about the name nigger only applies to the USA because of the historical baggage it accumulated there with the lack if respect accorded to African descended Americans.
Anywhere else it may mean simply black as from it’s Latin root. And so they don’t care about the word.

R. Craigen
October 4, 2011 4:03 pm

Wow, so many examples, it’s hard to choose the best!
I know,
Eenie meenie miney mo, catch …
er, well, just ANY of them will do!

Jeff Mitchell
October 4, 2011 4:29 pm

Personally, I think the problem is that there are people who take offense when none is intended. They WANT to be offended. It gives them a worthless self righteous cause to defend. There is no reason to sympathize with these people. If we fixed all the current “offenses”, they’d have a new set tomorrow. There is no satisfying them. They have to have them, and they’d make them up if they don’t currently exist. With each “fix” they gain more power and traction. We shouldn’t go along with it.
I am not offended by the term “denier”. It is meaningless name calling. I actually think it is funny when they use that term, because it tells me more about them than they realize. I like markers in the system that give me an opportunity to see how others really are.

Gail Combs
October 4, 2011 5:23 pm

Acadia National park used to have two mts/hills now called the bubbles that used to be go by the name for the colloquial term for female mammary glands starting with B… Then there are the Tetons also named for the French word for female mammary glands….. I wonder when the feminsts will start hollering about the name of the Teton National Park.
Political correctness is such a total waste of valuable time.

October 4, 2011 6:36 pm

Respectfully, where is the value from this? I just don’t see it…….

October 4, 2011 6:47 pm

Also if you screw up falling a tree, at least here in Western Canada, the offending cut is known as a Dutchman. Don’t cut the holding wood or you’ve made a Dutchman and the tree can fall unpredictably. As a Dutchman I always thought this was amusing.

October 4, 2011 7:22 pm

In a related story, the NCAA is trying to eliminate Indian names from all sports teams. The “Fighting Sioux” from North Dakota are not changing their name. I keep hoping one of the faux offended people promoting this will take questions on a radio show. I want to call up, tell them how much I dislike Indians, and congratulate them on their efforts to eliminate any reference to Native Americans in modern language.
I hope the host of the radio show is not hurt by the exploding heads.

Jeff C
October 4, 2011 7:41 pm

There’s a reason this word is referred to as the N-word and isn’t commonly printed, even when not used as a slur. It is a horribly insulting word that evokes memories of a period when individuals were property of others. The word was use as a slur to dehumanize people in the worst sorts of ways. Although slavery ended 150 years ago, only forty years past, our country had laws on that relegated individuals to second class status based only on the color of their skin. Folks that lived through that era find the word extremely painful and have asked people not to use it (even if it’s not being used as a slur). Honoring their request isn’t “political correctness”, it’s just being decent.
I understand the purpose of Anthony’s article, and it’s clear the Perry article was a hit job by the Washington Post. That being said, I really fail to see the point in repeating the word over and over in the article and the comments when the point could be made without using the word over and over. As of 7 PM today, the n-word is on this page nearly a hundred times.
Think of what will happen if someone does an internet search on that word and WUWT pops up along with some pretty vile and despicable pages. Although it is not being used as a slur here, those on the other side of the issue won’t care about the distinction.

October 4, 2011 7:46 pm

The cowboys, when they were gathering cattle, they’d say they’re going to the Matthews or Niggerhead or the Nail” pastures, said Bill Reed, a distributor for Coors beer in nearby Abilene who used to lease a hunting parcel adjacent to the Perrys’. “Those were all names. Nobody thought anything about it…”
You know, Texas is a little different — you go where it’s comfortable,” Reed said. “. . . It would have been one thing if they had named it, but they didn’t. So, it’s basically a figure of speech as far as most people are concerned. No one thought anything about it.”
Not a racist thought in their heads. REALLY???!!!!

October 4, 2011 7:55 pm

So where do we draw the line? Do we jettison the 1st Amendment, and curtail free speech? Do we hand over free speech to government bureaucrats?
I have never used the n-word as an insult, and very rarely used it as an example. But the current racial politics turns my stomach. Obama doesn’t have a drop of slave blood in his body, but for twenty years he has attended a ‘church’ where his ‘Reverend’ has preached “God damn America.”
It is pushback time, and Anthony’s post is a finger in the wind. Enough with “racism”!

Jeff C
October 4, 2011 8:24 pm

Smokey – I hear you, but this isn’t a First Amendment question. The state is not rounding up and jailing people for using the word (that I know of). I’m simply saying that the word was used to degrade, dehumanize, and humiliate millions of people based on the color of their skin. These were US citizens just like you and me, yet they were second class citizens in their own country. Perhaps there are some who commented who have experienced that firsthand, but I doubt it. We have no idea what they went through. The decent thing to do is not use the word. I’m not talking about renaming landmarks here, but just using the word even when it’s clearly not meant as a slur. Why do it? There are other words (such as the F word) that are considered offensive and not used, is that political correctness?
I have no love for Reverend Wright, his comments are pretty clear proof he has his own problems. So how does that justify continuing to use this word?

Paul Westhaver
October 4, 2011 9:29 pm

Just so happens:
The Canadian Government is processing a bill to eliminate provisions in Canadian law that allow prosecution of someone who writes what is deemed to be, by a kangaroo tribunal, “hate” speech on the internet.
Will wonders never cease.

Brian H
October 4, 2011 10:03 pm

Jeff C;
see my post above, re the persistent exclusive use by blacks of the n-word to assert victimhood. That’s Great Society soul-destroying self-degradation worse than racial slurs. Perhaps an explosive challenge to the rush to deliberate debased dependency would be worth the candle.

October 4, 2011 11:04 pm

Two reasons some might be offended:

October 4, 2011 11:05 pm

From Wikipedia:
“Whorehouse Meadow is a meadow located on the west slope of Steens Mountain northeast of Frenchglen, Oregon, United States. It earned its name in the days of the Old West. Entrepreneuring females from Vale, Oregon would set up wood and canvas tents in the meadow to provide services to the sheepherders and cattlemen of the area. Many of the sheepherders were Basque American immigrants, and their sometimes explicit carvings can still be found in the bark of aspen trees surrounding the meadow. The name was changed briefly in the 1960s to “Naughty Girl Meadow” on Bureau of Land Management maps, but in 1981 the old name was restored after public outcry.”

Gareth Phillips
October 5, 2011 12:15 am

Paul Westhaver says:
October 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm
To Garth the troll…
he said”I guess by your thinking no-one has the right to be offended by speech. I guess you would include the victims of the psychopaths who blew up the twin towers …..
No. You are stupid if you believe this. I don’t see how “rights” have anything to do with someone perceiving that they have had their feeling hurt…..People get offended if you pronounce their name wrong or any number of things.. Offense is what happens to the recipient. Be offended or not, it is up to you and….you don’t have the right NOT to be offended… Not the twisted logic you stated.
… and what does killing people and property destruction have to do with free speech….. oh right… to Garth the demogogue, they are the same thing.
Stick and stones may break my bones but names shall never hurt me.
Thanks you Paul for your measured response where you have as usual not resorted to concepts or ideas to try and support your argument. I completely agree, no-one has this strange double negative of the right not to be offended, I also see you use in a short post terms to me such as “Troll. stupid,twisted logic, demogogue” etc despite my response to you being entirely polite.
Now why is that? You are obviously angry at something I have said, possibly it is because I have misunderstood your post so I stand condemned in your eyes. So your use of such terms is designed to hurt and cause distress to me. Purposely and deliberately without concern for their impact. You don’t know me or my character, yet you make free use of such terms.
This is my argument against the N word. It is deeply hurtful when used by whites against those who suffered at the hands of our ancestors, yet people rationalise why they should be to use it and dam the consequences. You quote the sticks and stones idea. It may be true if the words were not understood. However most responsible western governments have laws against the use of words designed to stir up racial hatred or to cause distress and slander. If you are unsure about that you may care to test the idea by taking out an advertisement using some words deemed to cause problems and assess the legal response.
Now if you wish to debate, take a leaf from Monckton and don’t swear scream or throw your dummy out of the pram ( You may not understand that if you are American) A measured response is so much more effective than a tirade of abuse. As the Oxford Don said when in such debates, See you next Tuesday!.

Rational Debate
October 5, 2011 12:18 am

reply to: Brian H says: October 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm

October 5, 2011 3:18 am

Here in Ireland we are called Paddys, thickoes, morons and edgits! What do we do?
We move on after a good laugh at ourselves, and remember the good times. We are a proud nation. You may call us whatever you wish – we know what we are – we love it!!

October 5, 2011 5:00 am

Jeff C,
As I’ve explained, I never use the word in a disparaging manner. But you need to get over the fact that pejoratives are part of public discourse. You either support the spirit of the 1st Amendment, or you don’t. “Honky” is also insulting, but I just move on when I hear it. Sticks & stones, etc.

October 5, 2011 9:32 am

After all though, all persons in America are free to be equal, if they choose. The use of a certain derogatory by either inner city blacks or hateful whites says more about the person using the term than it says about the nature of America. In the US we all know the history and collectively we have changed the course. Today there are many new African immigrants who have come to America to be Americans. It must not be such a racist place.

October 5, 2011 9:37 am

My German friends were amused by the name of the former Governor of California: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Translate his last name into English as they would do and you have a famous public figure with an amusing, at least to Europeans, last name. I’m just saying.

Wicked Dickie
October 5, 2011 12:34 pm

I’m mildly surprised one of your readers who is a former sailor hasn’t mentioned the “gypsy head” on a winch or capstan. In the old days, the Chief/B’osn might have said: “take a turn around that niggerhead” referring to putting a line around the winch head to work it. Now, he or she would likely order a turn around the gypsy head unless that term has been PC’d too.

Larry Fields
October 7, 2011 5:20 pm

I scroogled on “honkyhead.” It was surprising to see that there were a number of entries, but nothing that was front page news at the top of the heap. If Barry had rented and exercised hunting rights on Honkyhead Ranch, and if he had the mounted the appropriate trophies–or inappropriate trophies, depending on one’s point of view–on his wall to prove it, THAT would be newsworthy! (I’m not counting the metaphorical McCainosaurus trophy.)

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