Satire and free speech are difficult and necessary

We must never forget that the South is composed chiefly of Bible-thumping, Confederate-flag-waving, potato-salad-eating, lazy-tongued, illiterate bigots [”Page 46 of the Jan. 4 Xpress Literally Made Me Cry,” Jan. 18 Xpress].

Clara Jones' letter indicates somehow that ethnic slurs and bigotry are unique to the Bible Belt. If she grew up in a working-class neighborhood, I'm sure she heard some choice slurs every once in a while — in fact if she grew up in any American neighborhood.

I'm not proud to be a Southerner, a woman, or even an American, but I would like her to know this: In 40 years, most of them spent in the South, I have never experienced as much racism, sexism and segregation as I did during the year I lived in New Jersey. The Civil War is merely an historical footnote there, but all the wars of all the old countries are alive and well.

The ease with which the good folks I knew there employed some pretty trashy words against each other was astounding and impressive. Since the pale faces and the redskins started slaughtering each other, with the occasional break for turkey-eating and football, name-calling has been the Great American Experiment Pastime. For good or ill, it seems that humans need artificial lines to tell us who we are and who we are not. We are just tall children on a big, messy playground. Maybe one day we'll grow up. Until then, try to grow a sense of humor.

That all being said, I'm pretty sure the Asheville Disclaimer staff was actually making fun of any jerk who regularly uses such words and, happily, the paper uses equal-opportunity guidelines when picking people to pick on. They'll probably get you next week, and maybe me the week after! Satire and free speech (which is not to say discrimination) are difficult and necessary things.

— Sarah Taylor


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