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Jason Rantz
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Can we escape the N-word in the conversation about Martin Luther King? Here people in Seattle walk in the 32nd "Rise Up! Restore the Dream!" annual celebration for Martin Luther King, Jr., on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Jordan Stead)

Poulsbo principal shouldn't face punishment for explaining N-word to student

Taken from Thursday's edition of The Jason Rantz Show on KIRO Radio.

I read this story and immediately I said, OK we're talking about this. This is a story that demands attention. I read this and once again I see missed opportunities. I see utter injustice. I'm honestly just getting sick and tired of people using these zero-tolerance rules, these silly rules that don't allow you to use any common sense before pushing out your punishments against people who are just trying to do the right thing.

The Kitsap Sun reports Poulsbo Elementary school's principal is on leave as the school looks into a complaint that she used the N-word.

Students were apparently uncomfortable with the use of the word "negro" in a school play about Martin Luther King Jr. The student's teacher and the principal tried to explain the historical context. A mother of the student allegedly said the principal used the other N-word in an explanation of how "negro" was not the same.

There are some interesting tidbits to dissect in this story. First of all being the use of the N-word, the idea that it is never acceptable to us in the N-word, in this situation seems a little bizarre to me.

When you're trying to give a historical context, when you're trying to tell people the power of a certain word, when you're using it in a way that is meant to teach, meant to teach valuable lessons, meant to teach people about something that is so important in the history of this country that it's still current and important to know about. It seems to me that it would be permissible to use the word.

It's going to make a lot of people uncomfortable when you use that word. It makes me uncomfortable when I hear it. It makes me uncomfortable when I hear it in a historical context. It makes me uncomfortable when I hear it in a movie. It makes me uncomfortable.

But it's an important conversation to have. We should know about the history. We cannot pretend that the word doesn't exist. We can't pretend that people don't currently use the word. And when you're doing a play about Martin Luther King Jr. When you're talking about a play called "The Martin Luther King Jr. 10-minute mini: Overcoming segregation," that was the name of this play - when you're talking about that in the context of wanting to get a better understanding of who this man was and what African-American people went through in this country, it seems like the N-word is something you cannot not use. You can't avoid it.

I'm upset that a parent decided she was so upset that she would have to call the school and try to get this principal some sort of disciplinary action, or complain. Certainly, when you're complaining to someone higher than the principal, you know that there's a chance that that staff member is going to get in trouble, possibly fired, possibly disciplined. I was so annoyed.

We cannot pretend that our history didn't actually happen. These kids are going to hear that word. They're going to have questions. If we think it's appropriate to start teaching kids who Martin Luther King was and why we look to his life as a source of inspiration, if we're going to have that conversation, they're old enough to understand the N-word. They're old enough to have a respectful and reasonable and age-appropriate conversation about the hatred that was spewed in this country. The hatred that Martin Luther King, who we're supposed to laud by doing this play in this school, fought against. It seems to me like principal did the right thing.

What do you think?

Taken from Thursday's edition of The Jason Rantz Show on KIRO Radio.

JS

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