Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

A Slur Is a Slur

August 30, 1987

Glendale Municipal Court Commissioner Daniel F. Calabro made an unfortunate choice of a word when he used the epithet nigger from the bench. He claims that he was only describing yet another racial-harassment case, but, regardless of the context, the slur is absolutely inappropriate in any situation.

Calabro has since apologized. He has also denied allegations that he ridiculed Asian immigrants by mimicking those with accents. Insults based on race, ethnicity or sex must not be tolerated in formal settings or in jest. Such disparaging remarks are particularly galling in a court of law.

Americans, committed to equality, have long depended on the courts to uphold the constitutional rights of all citizens. The courts have provided relief, for black Americans and for other minorities, from discrimination at school, in the workplace, at the polls and in other public arenas. An officer of the court who interprets and upholds the law must therefore be held to the highest standard.

Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner barred Calabro, a court commissioner sitting as a judge, from hearing criminal cases. Raymond Johnson of the Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP and other leaders have insisted, correctly, that a judge must be totally above racist and derogatory language. If a word like nigger can be uttered from the bench, what is permissible behind closed doors?

But the reaction to Calabro's remark must not overshadow the case that was before the court commissioner--a young white man who pleaded no-contest to attacking a black man at a bus stop in Glendale. "Your kind is not welcome here, nigger," the assailant said, according to authorities. There is no question what he meant.

Racism, discrimination and prejudice are still a harmful part of this nation's fabric in 1987, in spite of progress made on many fronts. The pejorative word nigger still wounds deeply. While Calabro claims that he did not use the slur in a derogatory way, the epithet can be used in no other fashion.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|