The “B” word

Guessing game: The mainstream media can be so infuriating. In their gymnastic attempts to seem impartial and inoffensive, they can become downright Orwellian, steadily eliminating certain words and concepts from the lexicon.

Just as Big Brother made it so Winston Smith didn’t have the verbal or cognitive tools to contemplate concepts like “freedom” in 1984, so too does today’s media contract our thinking about what’s possible.

Yet rather than a totalitarian conspiracy, the real-world media whores are motivated by the desire to unquestioningly parrot self-serving politicians, the inability to call liars “liars,” the equating of analysis and skepticism with bias and lack of objectivity, and fear of saying anything remotely offensive.

Last summer, when the dark clouds of the coming energy crisis were looming for all to see, SN&R was one of the only media outlets to use words like “re-regulation” or “government takeover,” a dearth of coverage that allowed the powers-that-be to ignore radical solutions that could have prevented our current problems.

An even more ridiculous example came last week. Bites was listening to Capital Public Radio and heard about how Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante was in hot water for inadvertently using the “N-word” during a speech. The N-word? The F-word Bites knows, but what the hell is the N-word?

Neanderthal? Nitwit? Nazi? Nincompoop? Necrophiliac? Numb-nuts? What exactly did our Loot Gov say anyway? Ne’er-do-well? Nutbag? Nixonite? Narc? Nancy-boy?

Bites likes to play guessing games as much as the next guy, but not usually over the main point of news stories. With N-words still flowing through my head (nimrod, nebbish, NIMBY, nattering nabobs of negativism), Bites decided to wait until morning when surely our paper of record, the Sacramento Bee, would have the straight scoop.

But, no. Never in the long, front-page story on the incident did the Bee deign to actually convey the word in question. The Bee described it as a “forbidden racial term” and a “word beginning with the letter ‘n’ and universally considered a racial slur.” Nip? Natty-headed loser? Nacho-eater?

Oh, Bites suddenly realized: Nigger. Bustamante said the word nigger. C’mon, you prissy mainstream media ninnies, you can say it: Nigger! Refusing to convey the word only gives it more power.

Just because you say the word doesn’t mean you’re a racist. In this case, it just means that you’re a journalist. But it could have been worse. They could have used one of those prudish “n——r” devices, like when they write “s—-” instead of “shit,” or “g———n c——-s” instead of “goddamn cowards.”

Moving on: Maybe it was the holiday or the threatening weather—or the fact that the presidential election is over, like it or not—but this week’s “Not My President’s Day Rally” on the Capitol steps only drew a fraction of the crowd as last month’s counter-inauguration bash.

Both events were sponsored by the budding Democracy Now Coalition, a loose bunch of left-wing groups who are still bitter that George W. Bush gets to fly around in Air Force One.

As y’all know from past columns, Bites shares the group’s belief that Georgie and the U.S. Supreme Court used some pretty questionable tactics to seize the White House, but that’s all over now. He may be an illegitimate president, but the key word in that phrase is still “president.”

Yet that’s a title that Phil Berg and others are still unwilling to accept. Berg, the rally’s main speaker, is the quixotic Philadelphia lawyer who still has a lawsuit active in a Florida court that seeks to overturn the outcome of the presidential election.

“With your help, I will keep fighting so the will of the people will prevail,” said Berg, who still thinks he can overturn the election results because of voter fraud, challenges to Dick Cheney’s claims of a Wyoming residency, or by disbarring some of the Supreme Court justices.

Sure, anything is possible, but Bites is sticking to the strategy of asking Santa Claus for a new president this Christmas, which probably has a better chance of success.