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Speaking of Spineless Moves…

March 2006
Tim Dorsey, KTRS Radio (St Louis) CEO, recently fired talk-show host Dave Lenihan for using the word “coon” during on-air conversation with a listener about U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s possible application for the role of Commissioner of the NFL. I think this was a completely spineless move on his part. It’s more than obvious what Lenihan meant to say (he meant to say “coup”, meaning a really good thing for the NFL). Sure he made a mistake and should not get away unpunished, but firing him is going overboard. Dorsey’s knee-jerk reaction has made a minor slip of the tongue into an international story. And yes, it was a minor slip. Although “coon” is a racial slur, let’s keep things in context here.


Toronto talk-show host Spider Jones (CFRB radio – www.CFRB.com), who is black, has used the word “N*g*er” on his show numerous times when discussing racial issues, especially his days growing up in the projects of Detroit. Why is it OK for a black radio show host to use a word like that when discussing racial issues, but not for a white guy to make an unintentional slip of the tongue? If racial slurs are wrong, then they are wrong for everyone, right?

The answer to the question is “context”. Spider was discussing racial issues from his personal life and Dave was a man who made a stupid error. Nothing more! Although we all know that it is more acceptable for a black person to say N*g*er, as they are seen to be “taking back possession” of a nasty word, I’m sure Spider’s bosses wouldn’t like him using it every second word like rappers do in their music videos.

The only good thing that will probably come of Dorsey’s over-reaction is that the attention Dave is now getting will probably land him a better job than the one he is leaving behind.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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