Deposition transcript of the day

28 Jun

Reading the transcript of Paul Deen’s deposition for her discrimination lawsuit, I came across a new concept: using the n-word (to refer to African-Americans) in a “non-mean” way. Here’s the excerpt:

Miss Deen, earlier in your testimony you indicated that one of the things that you had tried to — that you and your husband tried to teach your children was not to use the N-word in a mean way, do you recall that testimony?
Okay. And could you give me an example of how you have demonstrated for them a nice way to use the N-word?
Or a non-mean way?
[Objection] (

While the prosecuting attorney could be accused of picking on Deen for poor word choice, there’s something to be said for the point he’s making about hiding behind intention (as in “I didn’t mean the n-word in a mean way”). The n-word has “mean” connotations, whether or not you intend it to.

As for the “it was a different time” defense, times do change, but language is intrinsically historic and social, and it’s a slim argument to claim that the use of a derogatory term is completely free of that word’s history and commonly understood connotations. And if you’re going to claim ignorance, that doesn’t get you off the hook. You’re still responsible for your impact on others, as well as your own education not just about the language you use, but also about who you are.

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