Yellow Sheet Report – NAACP local chief denounces Lacey’s use of “n****” word

Also, the Fox News Hannity & Colmes clip last night is available. What is particularly disturbing about this whole incident is that Lacey didn’t just refer to the n**** word — he said “my n****” as if he was implying that his employee was a slave of his. This is doubly demeaning and brings back thoughts of slavery to African-Americans. I’d like to see some coverage of this in the mainstream media.

ACLU stands by award despite slur, vulgarity

ARTICLE POSTED 4.11.2008 | 3:14 PM

Dan Pochoda, legal director for the ACLU of Arizona, told our reporter this morning that even though Michael Lacey of New Times used a racial slur at the Society of Professional Journalists awards dinner last week, it will not be rescinding the Civil Libertarian of the Year award given to Lacey and co-founder Jim Larkin, nor will it return Lacey’s $10,000 contribution to the organization for the defense of Hispanic immigrants.

“We are proud of the award we gave Mike Lacey,” Pochoda said. “The reason the ACLU gave him the award stands.”

The lifetime achievement award was for standing against the abusive tactics of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, he said. “That stands. There’s nothing more to say. It’s not my decision, but I see no reason to return any money.”

Apparently it’s not a rarity for Lacey to utter vulgarities during his public speeches. When Lacey and Larkin accepted the ACLU award, Lacey said, “It is expected, after four decades, that the writers of New Times and the editors at New Times would do something like publish the secret grand jury proceedings and say f*** you to Joe Arpaio.”

Pochoda added he had only heard about the SPJ incident third-hand, and his organization generally doesn’t comment on speeches at private gatherings.

********

Rev. Oscar Tillman, president of the Maricopa County NAACP said that, like the ACLU, the NAACP has given awards it later regretted. He said it would be “stupid” for the ACLU to rescind Lacey’s award, given its business is all about free speech, but free speech goes beyond when it hurts or embarrasses others.

“I think the ACLU is due [out] with a statement . . . .,” he said.

Tillman said it was sad to hear Lacey had used the “n-word.” “… That word cannot be acceptable, nor will it be condoned . . . . ”

Tillman said the national NAACP symbolically buried the “n-word” last year at the national convention and has worked hard across the country to kill the word once and for all.

The Maricopa NAACP is hosting its Freedom Fund dinner tonight with guest speaker Dennis Hayes, president and CEO of the national NAACP.

“The chance to get the president and CEO is very slim, and for him to come to Phoenix under a cloud like this is very, very embarrassing and hurtful for an organization that fought so hard to get rid of that word,” Tillman said. “This is what he’s arriving in town to hear.”

Tillman said he would like to know what Lacey is going to do to ensure that that type of incident will never happen again. “I want to hear him say beyond an apology what he’s willing to do.”

*********

“Just when you think, OK, we are all passed this kind of stuff, you have that come up,” Landrum Taylor said today. “To use that speech so comfortably and relaxed … obviously he was saying it quite a bit.”

She added: “I’m glad we’re not friends and had a little lunch together, and he’d referred to me as that.” Told Lacey has apologized, Landrum Taylor said it was too late.

It’s no different than a person who punches somebody over and over again and then says sorry, and he didn’t mean to do it, she said.

*********

Paul Curci, publisher of the Philadelphia City Paper, has called Lacey out in a letter to the editor of Alternative Newsweeklies Association. Curci said that although he is a staunch defender of the right to free speech, he sees Lacey’s comments as ignorant and called his apology “half-hearted.”

Curci said the apology “is at best some next level of arrogance, and at worst something much more serious.”

Since Lacey’s apology, which appeared in the Tribune, Teri Carnicelli, president of the Valley of the Sun Chapter of SPJ, sent him a letter on behalf of her organization. It follows.

Mr. Lacey,

As you have since become aware, most-if not all-of our guests at SPJ’s April 4 banquet were shocked and offended by your use of the “N” word.

While the East Valley Tribune has printed your apology for this utterance, I can only hope you truly understand that using this word in public is in poor taste.

In your apology, you make reference to the fact that our banquet was an event to honor journalists whose work furthers the cause of the First Amendment. These hard-working men and women use this freedom to enlighten and to educate our citizenry, not to hide behind it as an excuse for inexcusable behavior. They understand that while the First Amendment protects vile speech, it does not require us to embrace it.

The use of the word was a blot on an event celebrating journalists who deserve your respect for their professionalism and integrity. SPJ will continue to recognize media professionals from throughout the state who fight for the public’s right to know. However, this organization does not, and will never, condone the use of words that harm or degrade other groups of people.

I can only hope that any other organization that chooses to recognize your work is spared a similar experience.

Response to Phil Riske’s comment below – we encourage our readers to consider subscribing to the Yellow Sheet, since they are uncomfortable with us reprinting their articles. It’s a little pricey but it’s worth it.


Comments

  1. You are right Pat that the guy is offensive and should be out on his ear. But you do us a disservice when you exaggerate and give his allies a chance to counter-attack. His statement of “my n*****” did not imply property or ownership or slave status. It is a street slang term implying a very close, almost fraternal relationship. Think “my buddy” or “my homie” or something similar.

    We don’t have to make it out any worse than it actually is to win. It is ugly enough all on its own.

  2. FreeAdvice says

    I’m sure there’s quite a bit of real scholarship regarding that term. That’s not the story. The newsworthyness of Lacey’s remark is the context: a journalism award speech. He was getting the award for illegally leaking grand jury information. He was on the high horse of free press, then jumped onto the free speech one, and ended up on his…ass.

    There are journalists all over the world getting shot at, and they give an award to a local nincompoop who was arrested and released after actually committing a crime. They deserve the humiliationt.

  3. 7th Heaven says

    Lacey certainly made a boo boo alright, but according to the following link there is more to all of this than what meets the eye.

    http://arizona.indymedia.org/news/2008/04/72695.php

  4. Ever hear of copyright? We appreciate the plug, but this is a subscription site.

    Phil Riske
    Editor, Yellow Sheet Report

  5. Hey Phil,

    Looks like the folks at Sonoran Alliance are helping your subscription department out.

Leave a Reply to FreeAdvice Cancel reply