"quit playing in the trees like monkeys" nets criminal charges?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by dreamer, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Yeesh, an article in todays paper - it said someone told neighbor kids to quit playing in trees like monkeys........and the person who said it was then charged with disorderly conduct?
    The article was in todays paper at www.northwestherald.com in the local and region section.
    Goodness so many things seem to be so blown out of proportion these days. (I am thinking of my other recent post about children being charged with sex crimes)
  2. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Stupid law -

    People are sheep.
  3. SaraT

    SaraT New Member

    Oh good grief, I call my tree climbing kids monkeys all the time.
  4. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    First Santa can't say Ho Ho Ho and now this -

    Ignorance abounds! :angry-very:
  5. elisem

    elisem New Member

    The criminal charges came, I believe, because the children were black, and the lady calling them monkeys was not, so the term "monkeys" was judged to be a racial slur. I'm quite certain it was not intended that way AT ALL, but we must all be so political correctnes, right?
  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    So, what can we call our climbers? I suppose I can call mine a bear (GRRRRRR)?

    p.s. I was not that lady - just because I was concerned with my difficult child starting his climbing career does not mean I would put an end to other kid's climibing.
  7. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    (shaking head at this point)

  8. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    The world has gone completely stark raving mad!
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We had that problem Down Under a few months ago, when members of the Indian cricket team were touring Australia. There is a culture among cricketers (among "sportsmen") called sledging, where they quietly insult each other to throw each other off their game.

    and warning - occasional strong language not well censored - http://www.cricket-game.co.uk/cricket-sledging.htm

    (Example: "Why are you so fat?" The other bloke replied quickly, "Because every time I *** your mother she gives me a biscuit.")

    Well, one of our Aussie blokes called one of the Indian players a monkey, and it had to go before the tribunal as an alleged racial slur. It was the first time I'd ever heard anyone claim that "monkey" is a racist term. And even then - I didn't think it was a colour reference at all.

    The point made in our tribunal - how was the remark intended? With the cricketers, they DID know that "monkey" was a racial insult to Indians, so they got into trouble for it. But if they could have shown that the reference "monkey" was to something apart from race and was not intended in a negative way, they would have been cleared.

    I think that should be what happens here - the kids were climbing trees. Monkeys climb trees. "Monkey" is not a term I'd associate with insults to African-American people. What was the speaker thinking when she used the word?

    If the children felt the lady intended to insult them, then even if she did not, she should apologise because her use of an apparently ambiguous word caused distress. However, it really does sound like this is being blown way out of proportion. I'm wondering if the parents are the ones responding to this, perhaps partly to distract attention from their own kids' misbehaviour in climbing trees belonging to someone else anyway?

    My mother used to refer to my brothers as monkeys, when they nicked a bag of nectarines and climbed onto the garage roof to eat them.

    And in the movie our kids were in, "The Black Balloon", Toni Collette calls her autistic son "monkey" affectionately, because he is getting used to the monkey ears he is to wear in a school production of "Noah's Ark". So would that part of the film be offensive also? The bloke playing her son has fair hair and blue eyes. My brothers - Anglo.

    I think this comes down to intent, and whether there was genuine misunderstanding or whether someone is just trying to get mileage out of this as a distraction from the main issue. Someone with common sense needs to step in and get this situation back on topic, and off racism.

  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Arrgh. How stupid.
    I have learned more racial slurs from the media and legislators in the past 5 yrs than in my entire life.
    One, fairly recently, was former VA Gov. George Allen, who used the term "macaca" to describe one of his constituents. Supposedly they knew one another and it was done in jest, but it didn't play out that way. When my husband and I read about it in the paper, we just looked across the kitchen table at one another and said, "What's that?"
    I discovered it is related to macaque monkeys. (See below, which I found online. The editing is mine so the note would not get kicked off the bb.)
    1. Macaca A racial slur used by Senator George Allen, which literally means "monkey." Recently used by the Senator while campaigning in Virginia.
    While campaigning, Senator George Allen made the following remark about one of his constituents -- an Indian American UVA student who was born and raised in Virginia, who was filming the event: "This fellow here over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent... Lets give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
    2. macaca Common French racist slur. Meaning and use is similar to English 'n*gger,' and is used to described non-European (Arab and Black) North Africans. It was in particularly prevelant use during French occupation of Northern Africa. The term has been showing up with increasing frequency as a racial slur on racist websites and chatrooms.
  11. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    That's not quite what happened in Virginia with Gov. Allen. It's fairly certain that Allen was deliberately calling the young man an offensive name considering Allen's mother is from French Tunisia where it's a common slur. Too much of a coincidence that he just happened to make up a word like that and applied it to a dark skinned person. He knew the young man only as a tracker from his opponent's campaign. Allen knew what he was doing, he just didn't think anyone else would.

    The legendary sports announcer Howard Cosell got into a heap of trouble announcing a football game in 1983 when he said "look at that little monkey go" as a black player made a great run. What got overlooked in the ensuing bruhaha is that Cosell had often made the same comment when referring to white players. The operative word in the phrase for Cosell may have been "little" rather than "monkey" because he tended to say it about short, fast runners regardless of race.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes, when I looked up that article, I found a slew of reports that Allen has done far worse than that. He always presented himself as so intelligent and clean cut. I've pretty much given up any expectations of politicians. So sad.
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I can remember when the first black children were admitted to the private Catholic elementary school I attended. I was a couple of years ahead, in 5th grade. Up to that point I thought my parents were joking when they described racial prejudice. My dad taught shop mostly at what would nicely be called the roughest, toughest schools in our city. He was taking guns away from his students several times a year in the mid 1970s! As most of his students, and fellow teachers, were black, and no one in our family treated them any differently, I assumed teh whole racial prejudice thing was some strange joke.

    When these 3 siblings came into our school several of the NUNS said things like we could expect to not learn anything else the rest of the year because the teachers would have to be "pulling the monkeys out of trees and teaching them how to use silverware and behave like children should in school." I didn't hear this once, I heard it over and over and over.

    It was very clear to me that monkey WAS a racial slur, esp when one nun said they were all just monkeys with the fur shaved off and the tail cut off. She actually TOLD us that black children had their tails cut off at birth so they could fit into clothes and diapers.

    This was in a fairly expensive Catholic school - I was there because it had better academics than the local public school.

    I committed social suicide that year and sat with the new kids at lunch. I couldn't believe some of the garbage I was told. One lay teacher asked me if I wanted to turn into a black person, because I would if I kept eating at the same table as them.

    A very large percentage of our students disappeared right after these kids started school with us. Their parents wouldn't let them go to school with black students.

    Part of me is still confused by the idiocy of all these statements. But, as I was born in 1969, these happened in the late 1970s.

    Monkey has been a racial slur when used against African Americans for a long time. Largely this is because many species of monkeys and apes live in Africa.

    I find the whole racial prejudice thing sad and silly. I did then too. (My dad's best friend was a black vice principal at one of the schools he taught at. They would finish each others' sentences, we had a great time together when we had get-togethers, and many of the STUDENTS at the 99% AA schools believed that my dad and this VP were TWINS, or at least brothers!!) I just alway thought I was lucky because I wasn't as stupid as the people who tried to tell me these things about "turning black" etc....

    I am still stunned that racial prejudice abounds, and saddened by it. While I think many forms of political correctness have gone too far, I am not one discriminated against racially. So I really have no good yardstick to measure accurately if the situation has been repaired so that racial slurs are meaningless. I personally believe that some on each side of the argument are too sensitive, but that the levels of prejudice in this world are very very high, very costly in so many ways, and totally inappropriate.
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes, it can go both ways--one little sentence can be taken out of context. In other cases, it is one of many deliberate slurs.

    Gosh, what a horrible environment you grew up in. I was raised by Catholic nuns, too. We didn't have your experiences, thank heaven. But there are plenty of others to complain about (some other time.:) )

    My difficult child is mixed race and has just recently begun referring to himself as black. I brought up the topic of Rev. Wright, and his views on whites introducing AIDS to kill off blacks and asked what difficult child thought of it. He looked surprised and then rolled his eyes as though it wasn't worth discussing. (How right!) But I pushed it, saying, "What IF it were true? Do you think that would kill off blacks, to use a virus, like the cold you have right now and that I have? Wouldn't it kill off whites and Asians too?"
    He agreed, and like a true linear thinker, mumbled something about how it's hurting Obama's campaign. To even think that AIDS was targeted for racial reasons is a waste of thought.
    If only the rest of the sheep around us thought that way.

    by the way, trying to get a difficult child into an intellectual political discussion is nearly impossible. Not to mention an 11-yr-old whose only goals in life are to play with-wrestling characters and watch TV wrestling. :)
  15. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Not being a racist or being from a family of racists, I have no idea what all the terms are that racists use to convey their racist thoughts. Apparently they can corrupt any random word into a slur which lays traps for those of us who aren't racist and don't engage in racist rhetoric. The racists know the jargon, the targets of racism know the jargon, the rest of are clueless. Yeah, we all know the big ones, but there are any number of words or phrases or even nuances which can and do go right over the head of many of us.

    It happens that I do know that the word "monkey" can have racist meanings (thanks to the Cosell incident I mentioned earlier) but, absent other indicators, I wouldn't assume that anyone using the word "monkey" to refer to children is automatically a racist. Not everyone thinks like I do.
  16. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I was a "climber" too when I was a kid and my mother probably referred to me as a "monkey" thousands of times. I couldn't get the link to come up so I haven't read the article. But if this was an older person talking to children who were climbing a tree, there may have been no harm intended at all. And yes, I do think we may all be too quick to take offense sometimes where none was intended. And again, I have not read the article, so I don't know what really happened here.

    I was born in the north and then moved to a small town in Florida in the late 50's when I was twelve. So I grew up during the most intense part of the Civil Rights movement in the 60's. The feelings may have been no different where I came from, but it wasn't nearly so "in your face" and blatent. I had never before seen seperate entrances to doctors offices or restaurants or businesses with signs in their windows reading "White Only". Or water fountains labeled "Black" and "White"! And places with public restrooms had four of them, not just the standard two. And school districts carefully drawn like jigsaw puzzles so there were black schools and white schools. And my little town was one that had experienced riots back in the 1930's when black people weren't allowed to vote! Although we still have a long, long way to go and racial prejudices are still alive and well, I think sometimes we need to take a step back and look at just how far we have come.

    A few years ago I attended a convention in Birmingham, Ala. with the domestic violence group I volunteered with. While we were there, we visited the Civil Rights Museum - a real eye-opener. One of the women in our group was a black lady, just about my same age. She had grown up in Memphis in the middle of it all and as we walked through this museum she quietly started telling us what it had been like for her as a child ... things you would never think of like how they could shop in the big department stores but weren't allowed to try on the clothing before they bought it. Or how they were only allowed to visit the tax-supported public zoo on one day a week! Or how her father, who was in the military, had a very difficult time finding a place for their family to live because no one would rent to them. She told us how the organizers had gone to black high schools and colleges and recruited and trained them to participate in the demonstrations and sit-ins. She WAS one of those people who had the fire hoses turned on them, had the police dogs set on them, and found themselves being arrested!

    Sometimes I wonder though ... are we teaching our children these things in school ... how it really was back then? A lot of them have no idea! The era they grew up in was so different from back in "my day". When my son was a young teenager he constantly ran around with two other boys from his class, one white and one black. They were too young to drive so one parent or the other was always dropping them off at the mall, the video arcade, movie theater, etc. One day my son and I were discussing the civil rights movement and I casually mentioned to him that if he had grown up where I did and when I did, his black friend would not have been allowed to go to that movie theater with them! His mouth dropped open and he actually started sputtering in protest and outrage ... he honestly had NO IDEA it had been like that! Not even a clue!
  17. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Following on what donna said.....

    I recently was involved in a discussion on another board about which was partly about race relations in the 60's. The young people on that board were absolutely convinced that the country was totally segregated in all aspects of life. It wasn't.

    Neither I nor my parents ever attended a segregated school. In my lifetime, every public facility in my area was completely integrated. Though my father once drove Louis Armstrong to the private home where he was staying because the local hotels were all segregated, that was well before WWII and my lifetime. I am white. One of my first boyfriends was black. When I was a child, my parents were friends with a married interracial couple.

    The young people on that other board had no clue that there were parts of the country like the area where I lived. I'm not saying that there was no racism, just that it wasn't institutionalized the way it was in other parts of the country.
  18. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    It was just "different" back then. I graduated from high school in 1964 and I never went to school with black children. When I was in elementary school in the north, there were no blacks in our school because there were no blacks in our neighborhood. The neighborhoods themselves were very sharply divided. I grew up in a very large city - the blacks lived more in the heart of the city, the whites in the suburbs. Not that we lived in a fancy, exclusive neighborhood because we didn't - very far from it. When I was very young, the only time we even saw black people was when we went downtown to shop! It was so different then ... no big apartment complexes with their diversity of tenants. It just wasn't done back then.

    When we moved to Florida, we still went to an all white school because the little town where we lived was all white. This was before a lot of the civil rights laws were in force. There was another slightly larger town a few miles away that had quite a few blacks living there - but they had a black elementary school and a white elementary school, and seperate black and white high schools. Integration didn't come until a few years later.

    I can see such a huge difference in the world I grew up in and the one my children grew up in! I hate to say this but sometimes I think it won't really get better until all the "old timers" are dead and gone! My mother was a good Christian woman and would never have consider herself to be a racist. But she had never even personally known a black person! I vividly remember her telling me when I was a very small child that I should never get anywhere near a black person because they all carried knives! That's what she had been taught by her parents, she believed it, and she thought she was protecting me! She believed what she had been taught out of ignorance and fear and she believed it until the day she died! That's what I meant by "how far we have come".
  19. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I have attended segregated schools. I've seen segregation in action and I hated it. Didn't undestand it but I hated it as only a child can hate. Sadly, I've even seen the body of a man lynched for dating a white woman. I've seen what horrors come from bigotry.

    I don't know if this woman mean it as a derogatory or bigoted term. Okay, derogatory is pretty obvious -- the kids were climbing trees on her property. However, did she mean it to be a racial term or a comment on their tree-climbing ability? The article (it was not a news report, it was an editorial) did not say. Without that knowing the answer to that simple question, we really can't judge one way or the other.
  20. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thinking how far we've come - racism has been different in Australia.

    For most kids living in or near big cities especially, nobody ever had Aboriginal kids at their school. No Aboriginal families living nearby, except for some country towns where they had what can only be described as ghettoes. "Housing Commission" areas which for various reasons were almost exclusively Aboriginal. A lot of this was cultural - because of the history of Aboriginal kids being taken from their families (the kids targetted were mixed race, on t he grounds that they were salvageable, they could be raised to live in white society). Families trying to reunite would go to areas where other Aboriginal people congregated. This still happens today - kids were being taken, under this policy, up until the 1970s.

    I went to school with Aboriginal kids. They were residents of a nearby Mission and were great kids. Just about all of them were brilliant at sport - our school sports team was heavily Aboriginal. A lot of them were also good academically. But outside school - no mixing. The Mission wouldn't allow play dates. I tried, there was one girl especially who I hero-worshipped. She was good friends with an older girl we knew from church. The older girl from our church eventually became a doctor. The Aboriginal girl would have been made to leave school at 15 and go out to work, probably as a cleaner.

    Where were their families? I don't know. The kids didn't know. We were told that these kids were from families that lived outback, where there were no decent schools, and these kids had been moved to the city to give them a chance at a decent education. There was a magazine circulated to the church families who supported the Mission - the magazine was called "Sky Pilot". I remember reading it and wondering. Now I understand that they were "Stolen Generation". But back then - I didn't realise and I don't think my parents did either.

    I remember watching TV programmes about it. I remember the misunderstandings which were seen as "common knowledge". The people who removed these kids thought they were doing a good thing. We now realise just how terrible it was.\

    When I was 15 we drove to the outback country town where my brother was stationed. We saw an Aboriginal family walking along the road. My sister in law snifed and said, "I wish they wouldn't let them live here, our property values will drop."
    I asked why and was told that property values are very dependent on where people want to live, and a lot of people, "not US, of course!" don't want to live near Aboriginal people because they consider them dirty and untidy. I pointed out that they looked neat and clean, although the kids were barefoot. But then, I walked everywhere with bare feet too.
    I was told I would understand when I grew up.

    I'm still waiting to understand.

    Decades later, my kids went to a city school with a high Aboriginal enrolment. This is because the school is placed right next to a current ghetto, the biggest one in Sydney. But the school works with the Aboriginal community and together good social progress is being made. It's still difficult for these kids to get the same fair go we expect for all our kids, but it's much easier than when I was a kid.

    In some areas of Australia, it's still appalling. Pedophiles use drugs and alcohol to lure in their victims. Often the pedophiles are the very people put there to help and protect these people.

    Our government is now working on fixing that. But the danger always is - just because we think we're doing a good thing, doesn't make it right. The social differences are often a big problem because we think we understand, we try to understand, and still get it wrong. Now officials are reluctant to remove kids, for fear of causing the damage done to past generations. This is leaving vulnerable kids in terrible danger. The pendulum swings too far one way then too far another.

    Socially - there are very few Aboriginal people living in a predominantly white (increasingly multicultural) society. We do have a few in our village, but they don't stand out. They're just part of the town like everyone else.

    When we went to New Zealand last year we were pleased with the degree of Maori culture being incorporated into New Zealand life. We wished we'd had the chance to do something like this in Australia but felt it was far too late now. We've successfully killed off Aboriginal culture, all that's left is the dying throes.

    Then our new Prime Minister made his famous "sorry" speech, and now I wonder - maybe it's not too late for Australia after all.

    We have our own racist insults (going both ways). In the past there was segregation especially in country towns. It was a civil disobedience back in the 60s or 70s over access to a community swimming pool that triggered the current awareness of what damage white society was doing.

    We've come a long way. We still have a long way to go. We need to avoid being too touchy and instead learn to keep on forgiving - ourselves and each other - and keep an open heart. Being too sensitive and seeing racism in every remark, innocent or otherwise, is not the way forward.