The Instigator
Emma-Lou
Con (against)
Tied
7 Points
The Contender
Mangani
Pro (for)
Tied
7 Points

Should the word 'Nigger' be used in music?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/12/2008 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,995 times Debate No: 5949
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

Emma-Lou

Con

My theory is that if people are offended by the word then it shouldn't be used. After all I'd like to look at any race as equal. But if Black people are 'aloud' to use the 'N' word and other races can't then doesn't that divide us? Shouldn't we all be able to say a certain word or just not use certain words at all? I was once singing a song that had the word Nigger in it and a friend said to me I shouldn't say that word, I thought why? It's in the song, why can I not say it and black people can? Really I think that the word shouldn't be used at all and this makes me realise that having the word in lyrics makes it worse, it encourages the use of the word. The word is wrong, it was a name used for black people back when the slave trade was about and has been used in a racist manor to this day.
Mangani

Pro

First of all, let me commend my opponent for even attempting to debate such a controversial subject. I am accepting this debate, though given the ratio of blacks to whites on this website I doubt I will win. Of course that is an assumption, but so are the arguments for Con.

My opponent, though he has presented his personal opinion as to why the word should be banned, has not presented any reason as to why we should all think it should be banned. His reasoning is this- he can't say the word without racial innuendo being attributed to him, and therefore no one else should say the word. Problems with this reasoning:
-The fact that he does not understand the difference between the use of "nigger" and "nigga" is reason enough for him not to use either word. No one is prevented by law to use the word. In fact, your right to use the word is protected under the Constitution of the United States. The problem lies in personal morality, political correctness, and societal backlash. It is generally accepted in society, at least amongst blacks, that "nigga" be used as non-derogatory. It is, however, generally understood amongst the same aspects of society that when non-blacks, and sometimes non-minorities use the word it is meant in a derogatory way. (http://en.wikipedia.org..., http://en.wikipedia.org...)
-The historical use of the word by whites has been derogatory. The historical oppression, enslavement, and persecution of blacks by whites adds to the disgust associated with the use of the word "nigger", as opposed to the self-inflicted use of the word "nigga" amongst blacks.
-Other words, such as wop, kike, f@g, b!tch, and other derogatory terms are generally used amongst the groups they are meant to offend as an accepted slang or even as a term of endearment amongst those groups. The author, John Bryant, says in his essay on slurs: "People don't like to be referred to by terms that they don't select or agree upon themselves, and it is this fact that makes it offensive to call people 'names', including names which have no intrinsic offensiveness (altho sometimes people will accept an inoffensive name as a nickname.)"

Black people are only "allowed" by black people to use the word. This allowance is not "legal" in any sense, rather it is considered a social acceptance of the term amongst their own group. You are not "allowed" under these terms because you are not black, and the mere fact that you don't understand this is justification enough for many to not "allow" you to use the word. However, banning the word would single out blacks- the group which uses it the most. Banning of the word should be reserved by those who have taken ownership of the word as it will affect those who use it and are offended by other's use of it. A ban has taken place in New York City, but bears no legal weight because words cannot be legally banned. (http://news.bbc.co.uk...) It is up to blacks to decide not to use the word, and though I agree people should take a personal choice not to use the word, to demand everyone else stop using it because you are not allowed to is unrealistic.

What is interesting about the argument to ban the word is the lack of social clamor for the ban of racism as a whole. Never has there been a movement to ban the acts, demonstrations, public expressions, and personal interactions associated with racism. Banning a word is an attempt at self-righteousness. Like I said before the thinking is "if I can't say it (without being made to feel guilty) then no one else should say it". Why isn't the reasoning "it shouldn't be said because it is offensive in every context"? The answer is that you are not personally offended by the word, otherwise you would not have called for the ban of it's use unless you were somehow prohibited from it's use yourself.

Were racism banned, none of these words would matter. If course banning an ideology is no more realistic than banning a word borne of that ideology, but it is a more just request. Take the personal choice of banning racism within yourself and around you, and you won't even feel the urge to use the word. Be repulsed by the word for it's history, not because you can't use it. I think that is more noble a position than that of banning a word in it's entirety.

You can also request Debate.org to ban the word as a profanity. I had to fix f@g and b!tch, but nigger and nigga are just fine...
Debate Round No. 1
Emma-Lou

Con

First of all I think I should note that I am a student at school (in the UK) and just chose this debate for the purpose of a presentation and of coarse for my own interest.

What you said about the difference between the the word 'nigger' and 'nigga', surely it's just a different pronunciation?

The question is about the word being used in Music, I am not suggesting it be banned. I am simply asking whether you agree or disagree with the word Nigger being used in music and your opinions on the matter. Using the word on a one to one basis is a more personal thing and we should all be able to share our views, but having the word used in such a public manor seems wrong to me.

Last year a girl called Emily 19 (who is white) was immediately taken out of the 'Big Brother House' (no eviction) for using the word Nigger. Although she was using it in a careless and joking manor it was seen as offensive and for her own protection was taken out of the house. She then got death threats after leaving.
The story was widely spread: http://news.bbc.co.uk...

I can't help but think that the word nigger has been perused as being a popular slang word in music, which may lead to young people wrongly using it. Has its meaning changed? Is the word used to highlight racism? I don't think so. I'm worried that the word is being used out of context and if for example a young person uses the word without a true understanding of it, be it that they heard it in a song, they may think it has the same meaning as 'Brotha' or 'Man', which seems to be the context it's used in between black people.

I realise that the word is used in a different context in music, you wouldn't hear a white person singing about how they hate niggers of coarse, but the point I'm trying to make is if its original meaning is so offensive then surely it shouldn't be used so publicly. Music is very influential and the influence the word has on people (especially young people) could be the wrong one. I've heard kids using the word around school, surely you can see why it could cause trouble?

I don't feel guilty about using the word, I'd only feel guilty if I were using it in an offensive manor (which I never would). I look at everyone equally and feel that we should all be treated equally, so how is it equal for one race to be able to use a word and other races not? Either we agree that the context of the word has changed or it is racist and should not be publicly used.

I apologise for not making myself clear before hand. I have never actually had a debate like this over the internet before.

I look forward to hearing your further opinion.
Mangani

Pro

"What you said about the difference between the the word 'nigger' and 'nigga', surely it's just a different pronunciation?"
-I have already addressed this. Again- the fact that you cannot distinguish the two is evidence enough that you should not use either. The word derived in the US, and though I don't expect you to understand from a first hand experience, I have provided some of the history behind it's use in my first round argument. Blacks never call each other "nigger". Nigga, though simply a mispronunciation of "nigger" is the slang used and accepted amongst blacks as a non-derogatory term.

"The question is about the word being used in Music, I am not suggesting it be banned."
-A suggestion that it no be used in music is a suggestion that it be banned, otherwise, why would we be able to say a word that we cannot use in music? Censorship in music is the responsibility of parents, not the artists. It is the artists responsibility to mark his/her work as containing offensive language.

"I am simply asking whether you agree or disagree with the word Nigger being used in music and your opinions on the matter."
-A debate is not about asking your opponent whether they agree or disagree with you, rather it is logically assumed that Con disagrees with Pro, and vice versa. I obviously disagree with you that the word should not be used in music. I do not believe it is your place to tell an artist, or the black community for that matter, what is and isn't acceptable within their own musical content. As an outsider to the culture- evidenced by your lack of knowledge on a simple difference accepted within that culture- is evidence enough that you are not a sound judge on the issue.

"Using the word on a one to one basis is a more personal thing and we should all be able to share our views, but having the word used in such a public manor seems wrong to me."
-Again, I have addressed this. Why attack the word and not the issue of racism? So it is acceptable to be implicitly and secretly racist, but it is not ok to express this racism? I assure you it is the implied and closeted racism that affects blacks much more than the obvious, explicit, and confessed racism that we can openly deal with and confront.

Emily on Big Brother got what she deserved. Emily is not, say, rapper 50 Cent making a record with a "parental advisory" sticker on it. Emily is not black, she is not part of the culture, and she was not using the word as a term of endearment or comradery. She used the word in a conflict, and with the explicit aim of demeaning, degrading, and insulting her fellow house mate.

"I can't help but think that the word nigger has been perused as being a popular slang word in music, which may lead to young people wrongly using it."
-Young people have and are using it. It is a popular term amongst the Hip Hop culture, and it is widely believed amongst the Hip Hop culture that the free use of the word has taken most of it's power to insult and demean away from it's original users. But again, the use of the word nigger is the personal responsibility of the user, and amongst children, it is as much the responsibility of the parents as there allowance or dis-allowance of other offensive words. I have already given some examples.

"I'm worried that the word is being used out of context and if for example a young person uses the word without a true understanding of it, be it that they heard it in a song, they may think it has the same meaning as 'Brotha' or 'Man', which seems to be the context it's used in between black people."
-Again, this is an issue of personal responsibility. The F word is used freely in music and movies, yet there is not a large movement to ban the word from entertainment. Why not? Because no one group is prevented by another from using it. Kids shouldn't use words they don't understand, regardless if it's nigger, the F word, the B word, or any other offensive word.

"you wouldn't hear a white person singing about how they hate niggers of coarse"
-http://www.adl.org..., http://www.oceanstar.com..., http://www.flektor.com...

Such music exists, but it is black music that is targeted for it's use of the word. White racist rockers receive barely any publicity, and barely any social backlash for spewing their racist propaganda to young white children. They receive nowhere near the media attention the use of the word in black music receives, and their intent is obviously negative.

"I've heard kids using the word around school, surely you can see why it could cause trouble?"
-Your position is flawed. Did you stop these kids from using the word? Did you express your disgust in the word? No. You have used it yourself while singing a rap (I assume rap) song. You can't expect of others what you won't do yourself. Your position should be to prevent your friends and others from using the word around you and expressing that it offends you. It is also the responsibility of blacks listening to this music not to throw it in the face of whites. I listen to music that uses the word, but I don't repeat it in front of whites. I VERY RARELY have ever used the word around whites, unless it was to discuss the issue at hand. In turn, whites have rarely used the word around me unless it was to offend me. On the other hand the word has never been used to offend me by other blacks.

"I look at everyone equally and feel that we should all be treated equally, so how is it equal for one race to be able to use a word and other races not?"
-How is it equal for blacks, whom the word was used in oppression against by whites for the past 200 years, to not be able to use the word freely amongst themselves without being offended, yet whites can freely offend us with the use of the word? Why is it should we be barred from free expression in our art forms, like music, when others do not face the same oppression, simply because our music is more popular? If this question is about you personally, you should not use the word, and you should not allow others to use it around you without you expressing your offense. You should not listen to music that uses the word. You have not taken that position. Instead you want all the be treated, what you call, equally. Yet in either case it is blacks that are being oppressed, not you.

"Either we agree that the context of the word has changed or it is racist and should not be publicly used."
-I have already pointed out your lack of understanding of the context of either word. You don't even acknowledge the difference between the two. The word should not be used around those who are offended by it, but that is an issue of personal responsibility. You cannot prevent me from using the word. You have neither the legal nor moral authority, nor are you the intended audience of the word. It is your choice to listen the music, and it is your parents' responsibility to instill in you a sense of equality that would prevent you from misunderstanding it's use in different contexts. On the other hand, your parents cannot teach me a thing about the use of the word, nor can any white person as the word has never been used against them in a derogatory manner.

Again, this is an issue of and about the black community. I understand whites feel they have a say, but the fact is you don't. You question our dedication to equality, but we are not yet in a position to actually be a controlling factor in equality. Equality is a process, and whites and blacks are not yet equal. Not because we are not created equal, but because whites still have a position of power over ALL non-whites nearly everywhere in the world. Though I agree the word should be restricted in public, personal music listening choice is not an imposition on others. It is your personal choice to ban the word in your own little world. You can't possible advocate a complete ban until you
Debate Round No. 2
Emma-Lou

Con

Emma-Lou forfeited this round.
Mangani

Pro

My argument has forfeited her R2 argument, and I assume she has conceded the debate.

My arguments in R2 extend to R3. Whether or not the word is used in music is the personal choice of the artist. Whether or not you buy the music is your personal choice. Whether or not you listen to the music responsibly is your responsibility, and whether or not children use the word because they heard it in music is the responsibility of their parents, teachers, and their own responsibility as well.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Does the subject warrant a deletion? One would assume that the philosophical underpinnings of critical language theory, including examining the use of the implications of "naughty" words, would be something this site is all about.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Wow...I think someone missed the boat on "manner"... :) I wish I'd known about this prior to the voting period ending.
Posted by s0m31john 8 years ago
s0m31john
Wow. I'm surprised this debate hasn't been deleted.
Posted by feverish 8 years ago
feverish
More people should have voted on this, Mangani obviously deserved to win.
Brian is too funny! manner/manor below. lol.
Posted by Emma-Lou 8 years ago
Emma-Lou
By the way I realise I used the word 'coarse' as opposed to 'course', as you could guess I meant course each time.
Posted by Emma-Lou 8 years ago
Emma-Lou
It's used in a racist manor in many places, I have heard it used in a racist manor very few times in Bristol.
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
"it was a name used for black people back when the slave trade was about and has been used in a racist manor to this day."

Is this racist manor in Bristol?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by kels1123 8 years ago
kels1123
Emma-LouManganiTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
Emma-LouManganiTied
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Total points awarded:07