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The 'Nig#3rhead' controversy

The Rick Perry camp is in damage control over a Washington Post story that begins thuswise:

In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance.

“Niggerhead,” it read.

The story goes on to note there's a conflict between what Perry says about the name (that it was painted over soon after his father leased the property in 1983) and what some others say (that it was painted over later).

To conservative MSM bashers, the story is a perfect example of media bias. But you have to wonder if rival Republicans leaked this (remember that the Obama's-a-Muslim story had legs in the 08 Democratic primary). After all, there's a clause in the story about pictures of the offensive sign that says "according to photographs viewed by The Washington Post." That means the Post wasn't out taking pictures. Someone else was. So who? The suspects are numerous. 

It's likely not Republican Herman Cain's camp (he doesn't have the money for that type of oppo-research -- yet), though the African-American businessman was quick to condemn it. Perry's camp hit  back with two statements one of which said:

Perry Campaign Communications Director Ray Sullivan today released the following statement regarding Herman Cain’s comments this morning on Fox News’ Face the Nation:

"Mr. Cain is wrong about the Perry family's quick action to eliminate the word on the rock, but is right the word written by others long ago is insensitive and offensive. That is why the Perrys took quick action to cover and obscure it."

The Post story acknowledges the rock had been painted and turned over. The Perrys did not own, name or control the property, they simply rented hunting rights to 1,000 acres of the ranch.

As Gov. Perry told the Washington Post, "The old name has its origins from another time and era when unfortunately, offensive language was used to name some land formations around the country.  When my dad joined the lease in 1983, he soon painted over the offensive word. It is my understanding that the rock was also turned over to further obscure what was originally written on it."

Rick Perry has a long and strong record of inclusiveness and appointing African Americans to key state posts, including Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, his former chief of staff and general counsels, university regents, parks and wildlife commissioner and other high profile posts. 

As the governor also told the Post, "I judge folks by their character and ethics. As governor, I represent a big, fast-growing and diverse state.  My appointments and actions represent the whole state, including our growing diversity, such as appointment of the first African-American Supreme Court Justice - whom I later appointed Chief Justice - and the first Latina Secretary of State."

Regardless of the outrage over this particular story, the N-word is alive and well. And not just in rap music. White people still use it pejoratively. (I remember a rival quarterback in Tallahassee after a 2008 football game referring to Barack Obama by the epithet). The word "n-head" is also more shockingly common than people want to admit, stretching from corner to corner of our nation. Some fIsherman in the liberal Florida Keys use it to describe coral heads, and sourdoughs in Alaska use the same word to refer to tussocks on the tundra. So let's not pretend this is from some other era.

Because we've gotten emails, this is a tundra tussock (which looks more like one of the heads of the Beetles, but whatever): 

Images-1

Comments

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jack

What are "the Beetles"?

Tally Folly

Real nice that Caputo doesn't think this is a big deal.
I guess its ok to use this word then huh?
Why don't you spell it out in your article or headline then.
Disgusting.

james

It's an easy money bet that Perry has something more than a perjorative painted on a rock in his closet. Give time time; this guy will never be the nominee simply because of dirt yet to be uncovered, either in his personal or professional life.

Cynical Idealist

I was born and raised in the South and had NEVER heard the word before it showed up in Caputo's story. In fact, when I was growing up, the more often used pejorative term was (and maybe still is?) rug head. Don't feign indignation Marc, you're not Southern enough for it....

whasup

Oh, there are lots of colloquial, offensive racist terms particular to parts of the south ... but also to some other areas of the country.

I've lived most of my several decades in the South and I've never heard this one with a "head" suffix before.

It used to be that one could generally which parts of the country folks grew up, by which of these ephithets they preferred.

OldSchoolPol

I am no fan of Perry, but as to this, so what? If I were Perry and were asked about where the name came from I would say "I dunno. I didn't name it; it was just what they called it back then." BTW "Beetles," huh? Gawdalmity were they that long ago now the children cannot spell their name -- or is it that the children just cannot spell?

Smartry

Love this all

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