The rules of engagement are complex indeed when it comes to certain words that have the power to trigger strong emotions.
The debate wages on, and not all black folks are in agreement that using the n-word amongst themselves is acceptable. Let the rappers drop all sorts of profanity, but to some in the community it is part of a negative culture. Taking control of a word does not diminish its negative connotation, as far as they are concerned. If it is wrong for white people to use the word, it is wrong for blacks to refer to one another as nigger.
What's Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein to think, so, when he sees Larry Wilmore use the word in such a public forum? The annual Correspondents' Dinner is full of jokery and humour, the President joins in the fun, and there goes the n-word flying. No one jumped up and shouted Mr. Wilmore down, or called him out for not only using a slur but for applying it to the leader of the free world, as if Barack Obama is just another gangsta from the 'hood.
|The tweet - a force for good or the road to hell|
Not nearly equal, of course. The Catholics were an oppressed minority and were denied their rights, much like the blacks who lived under the Jim Crow laws designed to keep them oppressed. Maybe a man could make something of the similarities, but to paint Northern Irish Catholics as slave-like is going a bit too far.
Poor Mr. Adams went and tweeted without thinking after seeing the film Django Unchained, with its theme of revenge against a backdrop of carnage. His blood was up, apparently, because his fingers typed out a message that included the phrase "A Ballymurphy Nigger". His heart was leading while his head was far behind.
More words had to jump in to explain the context of his 140-character thought bubble, and the next thing you know it's all Cromwell and Penal Laws and 800 years of British perfidy. Still not the stuff of slavery. So more words had to come to the rescue and that's how deep holes get dug, with word upon word dredged up until you've buried yourself deep in rhetoric.
Tweets are fine for short messages, but when you're trying to explain your entire political philosophy, you'll find that some thoughts can't be compressed down to a few characters without losing the essence of the argument.
Too few words can be just as difficult to repair as too many.
Just ask Gerry Adams, who is out there trying to convince everyone that he's not a racist or a white supremacist, just a Catholic politician doing battle with a Protestant government that doesn't much like him or his kind.