Monday, April 14, 2008

Good ole boys gone bad

Via Atrios I came upon this post at Americablog about a southern GOP congressperson referring to Obama as "boy," as in:

"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."

Since I made what was perhaps a similar faux pas the other night, I'm in the mood to ponder these things. I was raised in a southernish culture and, boy I can tell ya, I've had to work really hard over the years to stop saying boy.

I'm not an apologist for the Republican congressperson and am willing to believe him a bad person. Just being a Republican congressperson means he already has 27 strikes against him, if not 27 x 162.

But where I'm from, that sentence could come out of plenty of people's mouth without any racist intent. It's often used as I did above. Something like "Sure is hot. Hoo boy." It's also used to indicate a general state akin to juvenile delinquency as in "them boys got drunk and wrapped their dang ole pickup around a dang ole tree." When it means "nigger" it has an altogether different inflection.

So I don't jump to conclusions over what could be an innocent slip of the tongue. I'm confident the ole boy's voting record is enough to indict him. I doubt if anyone seriously examines that.