Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What? What'd I Say? What's Wrong With What I Said?

Dear Indigna,

Can you believe this guy, Ralph Papitto, while chairman of the (all-white) board of Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, used the N-word in a board meeting and doesn't see what the big deal is? What's even more unbelievable is that three board members who objected to his language were forced to resign! Papitto eventually resigned himself, but only "based on his age and his desire to spend more time with his family." Is this behavior typical of Fortune-500-Company founders or only Rhode Islanders?

Proud African Woman
Providence, RI

Dear Bee-atch,

I only call you that because Mr. Pepitto told me that that is how you ladies like to be addressed. Of course, like Mr. Pepitto, I "have never used that term before," but I learned it the same way as the perfectly innocent Mr. Papitto learned his "new" vocabulary word, as he explained in his own words:

"The first time I heard [the N-word] was on television and then rap music or something."

Naturally, after hearing it on "television" (and don't we all hear the N-word on television every fifteen seconds?) and "rap music or something [perhaps at his country club?]" he no doubt innocently assumed it was an inoffensive word. I suspect that his dropping the N-bomb--oops, I mean N-word!--was his attempt, as an 80-year-old white zillionaire, to appear "hep" to the other "cats" on the board. And hey! The guy says he "apologized"! Whaddaya want from him--contrition? regret? surely not . . . repentance?

See, this just goes to show that old people become children again. Children innocently use "bad" words because they don't realize they're "bad." I recall, as a child, using confusing words in conversation with my parents just to find out what they really meant. I learned that "cock," "fuck," "shit," and "clitoris" meant a long, long stint in the coat closet. And, although it's been thirty years, I still miss chocolate.

Mr. Papitto learned that the N-word means "retirement."

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