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Unintentional Self-Parody:

The Dallas Morning News reports:

[At a] special meeting about Dallas County traffic tickets[,] ... [c]ounty commissioners were discussing problems with the central collections office that is used to process traffic ticket payments and handle other paperwork normally done by the JP Courts.

Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield, who is white, said it seemed that central collections "has become a black hole" because paperwork reportedly has become lost in the office.

Commissioner John Wiley Price, who is black, interrupted him with a loud "Excuse me!" He then corrected his colleague, saying the office has become a "white hole."

That prompted Judge [apparently a Justice of the Peace -EV] Thomas Jones, who is black, to demand an apology from Mayfield for his racially insensitive analogy.

Mayfield shot back that it was a figure of speech and a science term.

More from Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow: Though Commissioner Price says that it wasn't supposed to be a big deal, and that "it's unfortunate that Judge Thomas escalated things by asking for an apology,"

Mr. Price isn't backing down from his initial comment. He said a racially sensitive person seeks to avoid using "black" in its many negative forms.

Mr. Blow rightly condemns Commissioner Price's position ("this kind of hypersensitivity to language really has become counterproductive to racial progress"), but goes on to say: "As a white person, I probably can't fathom what it's like for the color of your own skin to be synonymous with -— to quote from the The Synonym Finder -- evil, dirty, criminal, satanic, corrupt, sinister, disgraceful, foul, ghastly." But that's not what "black" in "black hole" represents; rather, it's "black" in the sense of, well, not yielding any light.

And as to Commissioner Price's riposte, quoted by Mr. Blow -- "There are always other terms to use, Mr. Price said, even for black hole. 'He could have just said "a file 13."'" -- well, yes, he could have, if he didn't want to be understood (at least by civilians).

I should note that it's possible that, in some situations, someone may use "black hole" to deliberately insult blacks, just as in some contexts you can use any innocent term with a facial expression, intonation, or contextual cue that makes the term into an insult. But nothing in the explanation from Commissioner Price suggests that this was happening here. For something in a similar vein, see the master/slave saga, discussed here, here, and here, plus the slavishly microbrouhaha. And, of course, who could forget the objection to "big bang" being "offputting to young women" in astronomy (see CNN, June 14, 1993, also quoted online here)?

Hoosier:
Black holes are black. Light cannot escape, nor can any information beyond the event horizon. That's why we say things have become "black holes."

"who could forget the objection to "big bang" being "offputting to young women""

Me, it would appear.
7.11.2008 8:07pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
I recall hearing somewhere that “black hole” said in Russian is a gross obscenity in that language — and as a result, those objects that we call such in science (in English) are referred to in Russian as (the equivalent of) “collapsed stars.” Do you recall anything about that, Eugene?
7.11.2008 8:28pm
Steve2:
Having attended some city council/county commission meetings in the course of my work, it doesn't surprise me at all that Price made his comment more to tease/dig at the Mayfield fellow than anything else. I've seen pretty much that exact sort of thing at the meetings I've been at. Never seen a third person ask for an apology in earnest, though.

Now, were this a council meeting in Calcutta, maybe construing "black hole" as offensive wouldn't be so absurd, but Dallas is not in India.
7.11.2008 8:33pm
Hei Lun Chan (mail) (www):
Obviously he should have called it "an African-American hole".

I hope it doesn't turn into a black mark on his record and that he doesn't get blacklisted.
7.11.2008 8:34pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Well, I'm pleased to see that racial discrimination and harassment no longer exists in this country. Because surely if there was any actual, real racism going on, nobody sane would be wasting their time objecting to the use of the term "black hole" in this context.
7.11.2008 8:37pm
TomHynes (mail):
At least he didn't drop the niggardly word.
7.11.2008 8:38pm
Smokey:
Oh, lighten up.

*...Oops!*
7.11.2008 8:42pm
EH (mail):
Hei Lun Chan stole my joke!
7.11.2008 8:43pm
Albatross (www):
Many people seem to want the nation to have a conversation about race. But how can we do that when white people don't know what words they can and can't say? It now seems any word can offend, so the white side of the aisle will eventually stop talking altogether and the "conversation" will be one-sided.

And how does that help?
7.11.2008 8:54pm
Struthius:
FWIW:
A "County Judge" in Texas is not a justice of the peace; he's the head of the commissioners court of the county. In other states (I'm familiar with California), the commissioners court would be called the county board of supervisors, and the judge is equivalent to the chairman of that board. However, the judge position is a separate position, and not rotated among the board members.
7.11.2008 9:00pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
TomHynes stole my joke!

Lighten up, grow up, get mature - the best (not necessarily complimentary) Jewish and Polish jokes I've heard were told to me by Jews and Poles, respectively....
7.11.2008 9:09pm
ys:

Michael Edward McNeil
I recall hearing somewhere that “black hole” said in Russian is a gross obscenity in that language — and as a result, those objects that we call such in science (in English) are referred to in Russian as (the equivalent of) “collapsed stars.” Do you recall anything about that, Eugene?

Neither is true.
7.11.2008 9:10pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Michael Edward McNeil: I had a sheltered childhood, and know very little Russian vulgarity. But I have heard from American sources that "black hole" is more or less a vulgar term for anus, though it sounds like ys disagrees.

Struthius: I said "justice of the peace" because that was what the columnist (Steve Blow) called him; was he mistaken?
7.11.2008 9:18pm
Zed:
A "white hole" is a source where matter is coming out of the event horizon, which is the exact opposite meaning of what the parties are trying to convey.

I am gravely disappointed in Mr. Price's lack of knowledge regarding cosmological terms. A dark day indeed.
7.11.2008 9:49pm
ys:

Michael Edward McNeil: I had a sheltered childhood, and know very little Russian vulgarity. But I have heard from American sources that "black hole" is more or less a vulgar term for anus, though it sounds like ys disagrees.

Apparently there used to be a term "collapsar" (this is proper Russian) wich is a direct derivative of "collapsed star" (see here). It was used to designate an object similar but not exactly like a "black hole". It is now listed as obsolete for such usage. I have had sufficiently unsheltered periods but never heard "black hole" used in an obscene way. Now, the Russian equivalent of "black ass" is quite another story.
On the other hand, in languages like English, German and some others, "hole" is part of a common vulgar word for backside (asshole, Arschloch, etc.), yet this does not affect the scientific term there. Russian, on the contrary, has an all-purpose one-word vulgarity completely unambiguous and unrelated to "hole" which is quite satisfactory for vulgar uses.
7.11.2008 10:12pm
theobromophile (www):
Lefties don't seem to get this upset by the use of "sinister," and that actually has etymological roots!

Heaven only knows what would have happened if someone brought up dark matter.
7.11.2008 10:22pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
I Googled "чёрная дыра," which is "black hole" in Russian and found lots of astronomical references and no anatomical ones. So the claim that it's a vulgarity in Russian seems inaccurate -- or maybe it's so vulgar that people can't bring themselves to use it online.

Theobromophile: What kind of lefties? Though I should add that we Slavs don't get upset at "slave."
7.11.2008 10:34pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Albatross:
Many people seem to want the nation to have a conversation about race. But how can we do that when white people don't know what words they can and can't say?

In this context, "discussion about race" means that white people are expected to STFU and submit to a well deserved scolding-without-end. I didn't realize there was any lack of clarity about that.

My normal apology in a situation like that would be: "I'm truly sorry that you were born an imbecile...but that isn't my fault, and I can't fix that".
7.11.2008 10:39pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Consider that Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield may be a white dwarf. But who are the red giants these days?
7.11.2008 10:40pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Black holes do emit radiation-- Hawking radiation. Collapsed stars have a non-zero temperature and therefore emit radiation in accord with what you would expect from a black body.


Black body! Another racial slur hidden there in the physics of collapsed stars. How about African-American body? No good too sexually suggestive. What are we to do?
7.11.2008 10:53pm
John (mail):
Anyone who says they care about all this is just telling a white lie.
7.11.2008 11:02pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
The thing is actually a story about whites no longer even interested in what blacks are mad about today.

That is, it's a look what they're ranting about now story.
7.11.2008 11:08pm
Visitor Again:
"As a white person, I probably can’t fathom what it’s like for the color of your own skin to be synonymous with -— to quote from the The Synonym Finder -- evil, dirty, criminal, satanic, corrupt, sinister, disgraceful, foul, ghastly." But that's not what "black" in "black hole" represents; rather, it's "black" in the sense of, well, not yielding any light.

Columnist Blow's first sentence makes a good point. His second isn't entirely accurate. Despite its scientific origins, "black hole" does have negative connotations when used outside the field of science, as it was here. It wasn't a good thing that the papers disappeared, was it?

So is it entirely innocent, a matter of fortuity, that "black" connotes all these negative images in our language while "white" is pretty much synonymous with the pure, the pristine, the angelic, the beautiful, that, basically, black is bad while white is good? Even if it is entirely fortuitous, since the English language is so rich, should we nevertheless take the small amount of effort required to avoid words that we know might give rise to offense--as a matter of courtesy?

I remember being a bit surprised decades ago on reading an opinion by Justice Douglas using the word niggardly although I knew what it meant.

In the Seventies in Los Angeles, a leftist legal collective actually used the name Bar Sinister.
7.11.2008 11:23pm
Javert:

Obviously he should have called it "an African-American
hole".
No. "Person-of-color hole."
7.11.2008 11:36pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
should we nevertheless take the small amount of effort required to avoid words that we know might give rise to offense--as a matter of courtesy?


Forgive me, but the vast array of things some boob (oops) could possibly take offense includes a signifigant proportion of the english language.

There was once this fellow who outlined an idea of controlling language on that scale, pruning out 'bad' language that really wasn't viewed as 'necessary'.

He called it doublespeak.
7.11.2008 11:38pm
JB:
Albatross,
Start by having the conversation with the people who want to talk, and ignoring the people who don't.

Life is a blog comment thread, and Price is a troll. Just like we can have pleasant and informative debates here, we can have a discussion about race in America.
7.11.2008 11:58pm
AKD (mail):

Consider that Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield may be a white dwarf. But who are the red giants these days?


Watch what you say there, as the other name for white dwarfs is degenerate dwarfs. Physicists are clearly equal opportunity racists.
7.12.2008 12:03am
one of many:
who are the red giants these days?


Ellsbury if you are a Red Sox fan is on his way towards becoming a red giant, caution must be used with red giants in baseball however, recall the controversy and origin of the Cleveland Indians.
7.12.2008 12:17am
Kevin P. (mail):

Many people seem to want the nation to have a conversation about race. But how can we do that when white people don't know what words they can and can't say? It now seems any word can offend, so the white side of the aisle will eventually stop talking altogether and the "conversation" will be one-sided.


I think that this is the idea - a monologue. To some people, it's a feature, not a bug.
7.12.2008 12:43am
Pete Zaitcev:
A few years ago someone would periodically float a proposal in aviation newsgroups to stop using the word "cockpit" in order to attract more women. The usual answer was that a woman who is dumb enough to object to "cockpit" represents a safety of flight issue and we don't want her at controls anyway.
7.12.2008 12:45am
Albatross (www):

JB said: Life is a blog comment thread, and Price is a troll. Just like we can have pleasant and informative debates here, we can have a discussion about race in America.


Except that in life, such trolls can cause you to lose your job, thus causing actual hardship. That makes his comments much more serious than a blog comment thread where you can hide behind pseudonyms.
7.12.2008 12:49am
Hoosier:
EV: "Though I should add that we Slavs don't get upset at "slave.""

But the "slave/slav" derivation is a folk etymology, nyet?
7.12.2008 1:06am
Visitor Again:
should we nevertheless take the small amount of effort required to avoid words that we know might give rise to offense--as a matter of courtesy?

Forgive me, but the vast array of things some boob (oops) could possibly take offense includes a signifigant proportion of the english language.

Perhaps so, but my comment didn't suggest avoiding everything a boob might regard as offensive, but only avoiding what you know might give rise to offense. Still, I suppose the minimal effort required for this excursion into good manners is too strenuous for some. And I imagine some like giving offense and that even more don't care whether they do.
7.12.2008 1:09am
Albatross (www):

Visitor Again said: Perhaps so, but my comment didn't suggest avoiding everything a boob might regard as offensive, but only avoiding what you know might give rise to offense.


But the point of the Dallas situation seems to be that many times you don't know what might cause offense until it does, and then it's too late. So "minimal effort" amounts to nothing when you are unaware of the forbidden vocabulary.
7.12.2008 1:18am
Sua Tremendita (mail):
I think George Carlin would've said something along the lines of: "Words become scary when we give them the power to be scary. What we need to do is tell that fucking nigger to shut the fuck up."
7.12.2008 1:27am
Sua Tremendita (mail):
I think George Carlin would've said something along the lines of: "Words become scary when we give them the power to be scary. What we need to do is tell that fucking nigger to shut the fuck up."
7.12.2008 1:27am
LM (mail):
Maybe the need to repeat himself is what killed him.
7.12.2008 1:57am
whit:

Lefties don't seem to get this upset by the use of "sinister," and that actually has etymological roots!



no, but...

I sometimes tell people I am ambisinistrous, not ambidextrous for that reason. Dextrous= right, coordinated, etc. sinistrous meaning left, bad, etc.

But ambidextrous means with two RIGHT hands. I don't have two right hands, I have two left hands, I tell them since everybody knows people in their RIGHT mind are left handed

or something
7.12.2008 2:09am
whit:
My friend works at a company where they are told to use the term "dot points" not "bullet points" for powerpoint presentations because the latter is offensive.

At my work, we had a supervisor (since retired) who created an order not to use the term "white out" because it was offensive. the term is "correction fluid"

Somebody should actually point out to this Price moron that black holes are immensely powerful and have such force that even light cannot escape. If anything, it's a compliment! "Black (hole) POWER!"

Better yet. Tell him he's an idiot
7.12.2008 2:13am
BGates:
So is it entirely innocent, a matter of fortuity, that "black" connotes all these negative images in our language while "white" is pretty much synonymous with the pure, the pristine, the angelic, the beautiful, that, basically, black is bad while white is good?
No, it's not a matter of fortuity, it's a matter of visibility. "Black" is bad because it reminds us of the unpleasant condition of being surrounded by blackness, unable to see, and in danger of walking into furniture or falling down the stairs.

If anyone should be upset about these connotations, it's not blacks. It's the blind.
7.12.2008 2:31am
LM (mail):
Who purportedly found "bullet point" offensive?
7.12.2008 2:33am
BT:
The ultimate irony would be if either Price or Jones, prior to this incident, insisted on being referred to as African-American and not black.
7.12.2008 3:15am
surrender_monkey:
Who purportedly found "bullet point" offensive?

Feminist cows maybe? Or bears who are into bonds?
7.12.2008 3:35am
49erDweet:
whit: "Better yet. Tell him he's an idiot".

Probably not necessary. Don't you think by now most of his friends have already clued him in on that, and he simply doesn't care?
7.12.2008 4:11am
Sam Hall (mail):
John Wiley Price has been in Dallas politics forever. He is a Jesse Jackson wannabe, but isn't smart enough to pull it off. Enough said.
7.12.2008 5:13am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
``Whomever controls langauage controls politics,'' as the saying goes.
7.12.2008 6:38am
DeezRightWingNutz:
The Washington Bullets changed their name to the Washington Wizards several years ago, so maybe it was one of their executives.
7.12.2008 7:03am
Alan Gunn (mail):
Pete Zaitcev wrote:

A few years ago someone would periodically float a proposal in aviation newsgroups to stop using the word "cockpit" in order to attract more women. The usual answer was that a woman who is dumb enough to object to "cockpit" represents a safety of flight issue and we don't want her at controls anyway.

Interesting. Did people objected to "joy stick" too?
7.12.2008 7:48am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
I wonder, when all these "negative" uses of black came into the language, were blacks called blacks? Or whites, white?
7.12.2008 8:30am
Hei Lun Chan (mail) (www):
Perhaps so, but my comment didn't suggest avoiding everything a boob might regard as offensive, but only avoiding what you know might give rise to offense.

Did you just use the word "boob"? As a differently-boobed person, I'm very offended. Repent!
7.12.2008 8:35am
Independent George (mail):
As an Asian person of diminutive stature, I've long been offended by the use of the term, 'yellow dwarf'. And don't get me started on the old Nuprin commercials.
7.12.2008 8:59am
p. rich (mail) (www):
avoiding what you know might give rise to offense

Then you have allowed someone else to decide arbitrarily what is or is not permissible for you (or me) to say. Shall we have a national registry of proscribed terms, run by the Department of Political Correctness, maintained by victim group, so you do not err? Cell phone access will be critical. I'm thinking too a system of state and federal Human Rights Commissions can aid in dishing out inappropriate punishments. Just like, um, you know, Canada.
7.12.2008 9:00am
Gary McGath (www):
Just yesterday I learned that someone had taken offense in my writing a humorous song about a "mad scientist." I should have said "mentally ill scientist," apparently.

If an office has become a "white hole," that must mean it spews stuff out and never takes anything in. There are probably some government offices to which that applies.
7.12.2008 10:15am
that guy:
If this keeps up, it seems the most sensible thing for white people to do is avoid all unnecessary conversation with blacks lest they step on a verbal land mine.
7.12.2008 10:35am
fat tony (mail):
Mayfield should have known his comments were going to put him in the red zone of our national conversation. Unfortunately, the way these stories get misreported by the yellow journalists have caused me to tune them out as just so much white noise.
7.12.2008 10:45am
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Who purportedly found "bullet point" offensive?

A friend of mine recently took a PR job at a non-profit providing support for battered women, and she was told off for using the phrase "bullet points" within her first week at work — evidently any turn of phrase remotely evoking violence was verboten. She had no idea what phrase to use instead; I gather my own suggestion of "sheep dung" wouldn't have been well received.
7.12.2008 11:00am
CDR D (mail):
>>>>A few years ago someone would periodically float a proposal in aviation newsgroups to stop using the word "cockpit" in order to attract more women. The usual answer was that a woman who is dumb enough to object to "cockpit" represents a safety of flight issue and we don't want her at controls anyway.


****

I heard that some one suggested changing it from "cockpit" to "box office".
7.12.2008 11:09am
Jmaie (mail):
I wonder, when all these "negative" uses of black came into the language?

1328 or so for the black death in England...
7.12.2008 11:16am
Jmaie (mail):
I heard that some one suggested changing it from "cockpit" to "box office".

Off topic, but in the early eighties the head OBGYN at San Pedro Hospital owned a white Mercedes with a personalized license plate BOXDOC. Yes, she did.
7.12.2008 11:19am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Hoosier: Nyet, see, e.g., the Random House, pointing to the slave-Slav derivation. The OED confirms this.
7.12.2008 11:31am
Struthius:
EV, 8:18:
Better late than never, I suppose. Just checked back on the comments. I hadn't read the linked article, just your excerpts. What I said about county judges in TX is correct, but in this case, Thomas Jones IS a justice of the peace, as you said in your brackets. He is not the county judge of Dallas County.
7.12.2008 11:59am
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Michael Edward McNeil and Eugene:

I believe it is obscene in French, not Russian.

Source, this entertaining book on black holes. The author argues that the man who named "black holes" knew that many people would be offended and did it as a joke.
7.12.2008 12:21pm
Chris Bell (mail) (www):
Offended sexually, not racially, I should say.
7.12.2008 12:22pm
Toby:
This is all a regrettable side effect of children being scared of the dark, because they are unable to see what is coming.

I propose a mandatory program of torture and beatings applied to all children between 2 and 6, during all daylight hours. After a generation or two of this, small children will pray for the dark to come, and all unfortunate negative connotations of black will be gone…

Seems a small price to pay to address this gross linguistic discrimination and injustice.





Oh, for years I waited in the school drop-off line begind an obstretrical gynecologist. His license, which he had maintained in multiple states, since he was in school in the summer of 1977 was OB1GYNOBY
7.12.2008 12:46pm
Cory J (mail):
I'm confused as to why Price thinks using the phrase"white hole" would be acceptable.

If he thinks it is racist to say "black hole", it seems to me he's saying it's fine to use "white" in a racist sense (given how he perceives racism.)

Even if he genuinely thought "white hole" was more scientifically accurate, he should have said "Excuse me! You should call it a File 13."
7.12.2008 12:54pm
LM (mail):
Sam Hall:

John Wiley Price has been in Dallas politics forever. He is a Jesse Jackson wannabe, but isn't smart enough to pull it off.

Recent events would have suggested that that bar is set pretty low, but my money's on this guy to slide under it if anyone can.
7.12.2008 2:33pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Funny how quick the other dude went to "white hole" and no one has a word to say.

Reminds of me last week, after I got done using African-American Flag to kill some bugs in my garage, I went over to the establishmant that cannot be named here to play African-American jack, then I went to play that game with playing cards that cannot be talked about here and needing a spade for the nut flush, I yelled out "give me a spade" and the guy from Dallas flipped out on me, saying "give me a cracker."
7.12.2008 4:11pm
Joe -- Dallas, TX (mail):
I am a long time Dallas resident. John Wiley has a very long history as racist here in Dallas. Frequent attempts to create racial incidents to further his political goals. More than one physical altercation where he created racial incidents.
7.12.2008 4:36pm
theobromophile (www):
Theobromophile: What kind of lefties? Though I should add that we Slavs don't get upset at "slave."

Never heard of the Slavic roots of "slave." Interesting.

Which lefties, you ask? Ambidextrous ones, like me. ;) To be serious: I've never heard of a leftie complain when "sinister" is used in a negative way. And I would know, because some of my best friends are lefties. ;)

I'm surprised. We're over 60 comments in, and no one has yet to mention the patriarchal underpinnings of the legal lexicon. Briefs? Penal code? (To borrow from Legally Blonde) semester?
7.12.2008 4:37pm
BobDoyle (mail):
Joe -- Dallas, TX: Such an outright and unambiguous indictment that "John Wiley has a very long history as racist" is nothing less than a vile and viscious smear when it is not accompanied by serious and credible references that prove the assertion. If you were an honorable man, you would have provided such references or tempered your claims.
7.12.2008 6:36pm
Uthaw:
I Googled "чёрная дыра," which is "black hole" in Russian and found lots of astronomical references and no anatomical ones. So the claim that it's a vulgarity in Russian seems inaccurate -- or maybe it's so vulgar that people can't bring themselves to use it online.

My dictionary of Russian obscenities has a reference for something that literally translates as "black suitcase" (which refers to an entirely different part of the body) but nothing for "black hole".
7.12.2008 8:18pm
theobromophile (www):
My dictionary of Russian obscenities

Um... is that a standard part of a personal library?!?
7.12.2008 8:37pm
JOe:
Joe -- Dallas, TX: Such an outright and unambiguous indictment that "John Wiley has a very long history as racist" is nothing less than a vile and viscious smear when it is not accompanied by serious and credible references that prove the assertion. If you were an honorable man, you would have provided such references or tempered your claims.
Bob: A) you obviously are not a Dallas resident and B) google John wiley Price Dallas - see how hits you get with his activities.
7.12.2008 9:19pm
Jim Rose (mail) (www):
I suppose he could have said disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle, or as we used to call the wastebasket the "circular file."

I object to the use of the word "slavishly" because Exodus says my ancestors were slaves in the land of Egypt.
7.12.2008 9:46pm
Uthaw:
Um... is that a standard part of a personal library?!?

For anyone who studies Russian, most definitely!

You quickly appreciate that English speakers don't know a thing about swearing. A dictionary of English obscenities would be what, seven words long, with everything else being variations on those seven? Very lame. The Russians, on the other hand, they reeaaaaally know how to swear.
7.12.2008 11:14pm
whit:

If he thinks it is racist to say "black hole", it seems to me he's saying it's fine to use "white" in a racist sense (given how he perceives racism.)

Even if he genuinely thought "white hole" was more scientifically accurate, he should have said "Excuse me! You should call it a File 13."


black people can't BE racist, because they don't have power in this patriarchal heterosexist white supremacist male chauvinist imperialist pig society!

that's why!
7.13.2008 1:38am
whit:

I'm surprised. We're over 60 comments in, and no one has yet to mention the patriarchal underpinnings of the legal lexicon. Briefs? Penal code? (To borrow from Legally Blonde) semester?


wimmins at progressive universities are known to hold "ovulars" to avoid the sexist term "seminar"
7.13.2008 1:41am
Jonathan F.:
The Washington Bullets changed their name to the Washington Wizards several years ago, so maybe it was one of their executives.

That reminds me of the old joke, that the Washington Bullets wanted to change their name to something not associated with violence and crime. And so they became The Bullets.
7.13.2008 2:33am
BobDoyle (mail):
Joe, I would bet most of the people here are not from Dallas and are not about to do a Google search to find out whether your claims are factual or farce. Making such an unqualified and unsupported negative assertion of fact about a matter of someone's personal character to an audience that largely does NOT have any personal knowledge of the matter is worse than extremely uncharitable, it is dishonorable. To then presume that you can somehow ameliorate your dishonorable behavior by saying "Google it," is absurd. At least, under the circumstance of being challenged for making serious claims without proof, one might think you could at least provide a reference or two to support your claim. But NO. You remain a man of no honor.
7.13.2008 2:58pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
"As a white person, I probably can’t fathom what it’s like for the color of your own skin to be synonymous with -— to quote from the The Synonym Finder -- evil, dirty, criminal, satanic, corrupt, sinister, disgraceful, foul, ghastly." But that's not what "black" in "black hole" represents; rather, it's "black" in the sense of, well, not yielding any light.
Besides, "black" isn't actually the color of their skin. Now, if we started talking about brown holes...
7.13.2008 3:23pm
Joe -- Dallas, TX (mail):
Bob:
Since you were too busy to google seeBlack Dallas Official Is Acquitted In Tense Trial on Assault Charge
E-MAIL Print Save Share
DiggFacebookMixxYahoo! BuzzPermalinkBy ROBERTO SURO,
Published: May 12, 1992
A jury in Dallas today found a Dallas County Commissioner not guilty of felony assault charges, amid speculation that a guilty verdict might have sparked the kind of racial violence that recently struck Los Angeles.

The commissioner, John Wiley Price, 42 years old, is among the most prominent black elected officials in Dallas, and his lawyers asserted in the two-week trial that his prosecution was racially motivated.

Mr. Price, who frequently leads public protests on racial issues, was accused of breaking the ankle of a construction worker, who is white, during a scuffle outside the Dallas County Administration Building last Aug. 2 shortly after a demonstration that protested hiring practices and news coverage at a television station. Mr. Price said he acted in self-defense. Jurors Report Threats

A previous trial on the same charges ended in a hung jury last December.

As the violence raged in Los Angeles on May 1, three jurors in the Dallas case reported to the court that they had received telephone calls in which they were threatened with death if they returned a guilty verdict. An assistant district attorney, Mike Gillett, told the court he had received a similar threat.

A day earlier testimony had been interrupted when a Dallas City Councilman, Al Lipscomb, who is black, stormed out of the courtroom, saying "racist, racist" in a loud voice, apparently referring to the proceedings.

After these incidents, the prosecutors sought a mistrial, arguing that the jury would be unwilling to convict Mr. Price because of the violence that followed the verdict in the trial of four Los Angeles police officers accused of beating a black motorist, Rodney G. King. Judge James K. Walker of State District Court denied the motion last week.

The makeup of the Dallas jury closely reflected that of the city's population, with five members of minorities. The jurors deliberated for about five hours today before reaching a verdict.

Mr. Price, who in 1984 became the first black elected to the Commissioners Court, a county executive body, has recently faced repeated and highly publicized criminal charges.

In 1990 he pleaded guilty to criminal mischief charges for whitewashing billboards during a protest against alcohol and tobacco advertising in minority neighborhoods. He was convicted in 1991 on criminal mischief charges for damaging the windshield wipers of a van during a protest demonstration. The verdict is now on appeal.

Mr. Price is now under indictment in connection with the rape complaint of a county employee in 1990. He also faces felony mischief charges in an incident in which a television news photographer's camera was damaged in 1990.

In closing arguments on Friday, Mr. Price's lawyer, Billy Ravkind, asserted that his client would not have been prosecuted if he were white. "Race has got everything to do with everything," he said.

Had he been convicted, Mr. Price would have faced up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and the loss of his Commissioners Court seat.

attached,
7.13.2008 5:59pm
Joe -- Dallas, TX (mail):
Bob published in NYT 5-12-92 simple google search -
7.13.2008 6:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I wonder, when all these "negative" uses of black came into the language, were blacks called blacks? Or whites, white?
I'm old enough to remember when "black" became the preferred term. When I was young, "Negro" was the polite term to refer to a person of African ancestry with dark skin (as distinguished from African from north of the Sahara, and my friend who immigrated here from South Africa and is thus "African-American" but is lighter than me).

In the 1830s, the term "people of color" was commonly used by American courts to refer to Negroes (fully African in ancestry), mulattoes (1/2 and 1/2), quadroons (1/4th black), and octoroons (1/8th black).

I don't have a problem using either black or African-American, depending on what someone prefers to be called. But the real focus of our society needs to be less on terminology and more on real problems. The ignorance shown by this incident is far more of a real problem.
7.14.2008 12:31am
Brad Ford (mail):
John Wiley Price is a Race Bating "A Hole".

I have started list of "black" things we should avoid in JWP world:

Black Car - aka Car Service in NYC
Black-jack
Blackberry
Blackhead - much worse than a white head
Blackmail - need I saw more
Little Black Book
Black and Tan - my favorite beer concoction and obviously racist
7.14.2008 10:12am
Brad Ford (mail):


BobDoyle - your attack on Joe was patthetic. Check out Molly Ivins'(not know her right wing views) story of 1996. Is that proof for you?

JWP called Hispanics "Coconuts" because they are brown on the outside and "white" on the inside.
7.14.2008 10:23am
Hoosier:
"Black and Tan - my favorite beer concoction and obviously racist"

'Black and Tan' does have really bad connotations in Irish-Catholic cirlcles . . .
7.14.2008 10:56am
Brad Ford (mail):
'Black and Tan' does have really bad connotations in Irish-Catholic cirlcles . . ."

Didn't know that. What does it refer to besides a beer combination? Are they related?
7.14.2008 11:39am
some sense:
Hugo Chavez thinks Fidel Castro is a "Red Giant".....
and what happens to those with more than 1/8th blood? Are they macaroons?
7.14.2008 12:52pm
jazzed (mail):
Sam Hall: John Wiley Price has been in Dallas politics forever. He is a Jesse Jackson wannabe, but isn't smart enough to pull it off.

Sounds like he'd have trouble jumping over the world's record limbo-bar.
7.14.2008 3:43pm