And 186 Other Things You'd Better Not Say

The Not-So-Funny Guide to the Threats To Free Speech


Words... or Consequences

The surprising main enemy of free speech is you.

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Yes, you can say anything, even in America. It all comes down to the repercussions for your words. Some things are just flat-out wrong: “Wow—look how fat you got!” or maybe, “Here are tomorrow’s top-secret troop movements,” and of course the classic, “Fire!” when there isn’t any.

But the ugly truth is that speech is being crushed in every direction. You can be ruined just for saying: “Are you married?” during a job interview; “Vote for John,” before an election; “Apartment for rent with picture-windows and walk-in closet,” and even something as innocent as, “Guns are good.” Some words will get you into hot water, or fired, or cost you big bucks. Others can get you killed.

It gets worse -- and you’re going to support some of the bans described in Bomb Jokes at Airports. Someone has to say it—banning speech can be a good thing! And lots of people exercise power to do it. Now that even jokes can get you arrested, fired or sued—speech is in real danger. Learn who leads the charge, and how they control your tongue.

“It’s a free country and I can say what I want.” Nope, not any more, and we’re all to blame. From political correctness to federal law, social pressure to financial ruin, dark forces are working to muzzle you, the media, schools, workers, your company, and soon, the Internet.

Yes there’s hope—by learning more, you can fight back. Learn about the federal laws that can put the muzzlers in prison. And you’ll have a laugh or three when you see just how ridiculous some of this has gotten. Americans—heed this wake-up call. Get and read Bomb Jokes at Airports.

Order your copy today.

Bomb Jokes at Airports, by Alan Korwin, only $19.95

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BJAA back cover


From the introduction:
Hardly a day goes by when there isn’t at least one news story of someone in trouble for saying something. Start watching for it yourself, it’s there, you just haven’t been looking. Dimly, people seem to think most of these are just fine—well that ought to be illegal, well that’s deceptive, divisive, derisive, harmful, hurtful, hateful, racist, sexist, biased, bigoted, intolerant, insensitive, offensive, not funny, well that’s just plain wrong, well free speech certainly shouldn’t protect that...

You may not want to hear this, because the speech you think should be banned really really should be banned, right? Who of all the easy targets would you prefer to shut up—Rush Limbaugh? Ward Churchill? Bill O’Reilly? Maybe Michael Moore, Michael Medved, Michael Savage and Michelle Malkin? Would a “fairness doctrine” be enough control?

How about the “Al” crowd: Al Jazeera, Al Sharpton, Al Gore, Al Franken and Al Qaida? There’s ransom-note writers, Mohammed cartooners, Mohammed-cartoon haters, Nazi sympathizers, Holocaust deniers, Zionists, creationists, bomb jokers at airports... and folks who lie, deceive, distort, defame, commit fraud, spin, slander, libel and are unjust, rude, stupid and not nice, how about them? How about bans for national security, financial privacy, client confidentiality, juries, romantic discretion or even—gasp—the greater good? Have I gored your ox yet?

People feel so self righteous and justified about who really ought to be stopped from speaking that we lose sight of the Founders’ inspired genius: Everyone gets to speak. Every attempt to ban speech—even speech that really should be banned—is significantly worse than the speech that needs banning. Usually. And if you

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A sample entry (most are much shorter):

The Banned Words:  "Nappy headed ho."


Context: A passing remark on local radio by host Don Imus

Repercussions: Dismissal and humiliation

Muzzled by: Black racists and mainstream-media accomplices


“Ho... Ho... Ho... Ho...”

No, it’s not Santa coming down the chimney. It’s the right Reverend Al Sharpton speaking to national audiences, with the extraneous portions of his comments edited out.

This man said “ho” and “nappy headed ho” so many times on CNN worldwide prime-time TV it wasn’t even funny, to excoriate a white guy. (CNN has 800 domestic affiliates and outlets around the globe.)

The white guy said it once, offhandedly, in a humorous fashion, in the early morning hours, on a show designed to be coarse, in compliance with his contract and his employers expectations, on a low-ranked cable TV station (MSNBC) and a local CBS radio station (WFAN) with some limited syndication (70 stations out of about 11,000 licensed in America). Sharpton was protected, Imus was assaulted.

Sharpton, who has said the phrase countless times before and since, has suffered no repercussions, unless you consider fawning accolade and overwhelming pack-media attention a repercussion. The man who said it one morning was raked over the coals (largely by Sharpton), publicly humiliated, forced to apologize for hours, and summarily dismissed from a high-paying job he had held for decades, while still under contract. Is them some powful wurds or whut?

Little in modern America demonstrates the hypocritical disrespect for free expression, unbridled black racism, media complicity, multiple standards, grotesque bias and bigotry, growing abusive powers and abject hypocrisy of the “people of color” rainbow (monochrome?) community—lead by its grand wizard racists—more than the nappy headed ho incident.

At least, nappy headed ho is now a well-recognized and widely appreciated phrase in the English language, spoken with little fear of reprisal, now that it has been raised to cultural prominence by the BRA—black racists of America.

Looking back on when I was a little nappy headed boy
When my greatest worry was for Christmas what would be my toy
Even though we sometimes would not get a thing
We were happy with the joy the day would bring.

So begins Stevie Wonder’s 1976 smash hit, “I Wish,” from his Songs in the Key of Life album. To my mind it’s one of the greatest lyrics and pieces of popular music ever created. What a bass line! I spent an hour with keyboard-player friend Domenic Cichetti transcribing the hard-to-decipher words so I could play the song and sing along.

No one in the black community had anything but praise for the nappy headed boy who wrote those words. So why twist a knife in the ribs of a white boy who said them? Why allow a black guy to say them over and over without ill effect but castrate a white man for saying them once? Why not drape everyone, equally, in a veil of protected speech? There in a nutshell is the bigotry and intolerance for speech that erodes our freedom daily.

It’s interesting to note that the radio debacle has rekindled the debate over the word nappy itself—as if free speech is an issue for any given word of the day.

Nappy hair is in the air and on people’s tongues: the billion-dollar industry that makes and promotes chemicals to straighten nappy (“Afro-American”) hair, the definition of beauty, the propriety of black children hurling nappy (according to the Chicago Tribune) as an insult, the ubiquity of hair-straightening salons in black communities, Beyonce’s looks, the wisdom of tote bags that say, “Happy to be Nappy,” and whether, as U. of Southern Cal anthropologist Lanita Jacobs-Huey claims, nappy is the other “n” word. The Chicago Tribune quotes her, “When it’s used by someone outside the community, it can be seen as offensive... When Don Imus uses the term it can be painful.” OK for me but not for thee.

As an ardent supporter of the basic civil right to keep and bear arms, I always thought "gun nut," hurled with hatred and vitriol by vicious anti-rights bigots, was the other "N" word.

Distinguished and highly successful pioneering radio-talk-show host Don Imus specialized in the narrowest edge of federally allowable broadcast speech: racy humor, bad taste, insults, insensitivity, put downs, smears, slurs, shock, locker-room lingo, ebonic swagger and foul-mouthed garbage relished by his millions of fans and followers. His show brought in about $15 million yearly for CBS. In an April 4, 2007, morning comment on the NCAA women’s basketball championship the night before, which Rutgers lost, Imus said:

Imus: That’s some rough girls from Rutgers, man they got tattoos...

Producer Bernard McGuirk: Some hard-core hos...

Imus, chuckling: Some nappy headed hos there I’m gonna tell you that now, man that’s some whew...

McGuirk went on to suggest the game looked like a “Spike Lee thing,” “The Jigaboos vs. The Wannabees—that movie that he had,” in a reference to Lee’s 1988 School Daze (Sony Pictures). The New York Times described that flick, in pertinent part:

“The college’s women divided into two camps, the dark “Jigaboos” and the fair “Wannabees,” who taunted each other in one scene with the epithets “pickaninny,” “Barbie doll,” “tar baby” and “high-yellow heifer.”

Neither Lee nor the Times was singled out for attack for that racist verbiage, now 12 years old. Though the losing Rutgers team is 80% black, no investigations or calls for increased diversity from multiculturalists—or anyone for that matter—was evident.

In this hokey broadcast that enabled people often called hoary black racists (like Sharpton and others) to coerce Imus’ dismissal, it was the producer who first said, “hos,” using standard black ebonic vernacular to describe the women, in keeping with the show’s long-standing style and lexicon. Imus chimed in with his now-iconic phrase, and they rapidly proceeded to colorful observations on other parts of society, as is their wont. The patter lasted about nine seconds. A $15 million revenue loss in under ten seconds—you have to wonder if Sharpton is proud of that accomplishment.

The Sharpton-led crusade and threats of boycott and demonstrations lasted for weeks. Other less prominent blacks, including Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey joined the chorus, and Hillary Clinton was accused of using the incident to help raise campaign funds.

The vile racist hypocrisy in this incident is outstanding, since ho is a widely accepted term in the black and other communities. Musicians earn tens of millions for its use in song alone. Ho is dignified for example in the lyrics for It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp, winner of the 2006 Academy Award for best original song (by Three 6 Mafia for the film, Hustle and Flow):

In my eyes I done seen some crazy thangs in the streets,
Gotta couple hos workin’ on the changes for me.

Although Sharpton, disrespecting any sense of the civil right to free speech, said Imus should not be “allowed to use the airwaves for sexist and racist remarks,” he had no similar sentiment about the Academy Award winning song, or endless related usage in ebonic and black music outlets, prompting critics to once again note his high hypocrisy. If he wants to go after bad language and racial discord, perhaps he could start with these lyrics from hit artist Mystikal:

I came here with my dick in my hand; don’t make me leave here with my foot in yo ass; be cool and don’t worry bout how I’m rippin this shit; when I’m flippin what I’m kickin nigga, this just what I do... fuck that coward you need a real nigga... y’all niggas can’t fuck with me... get yo fine ass on the floor girl it’s your fuckin song... bounce them titties, shake ya ass, drop that pussy, stay in line ho... then bend over and bust that pussy open...”

Published accounts have detailed Sharpton’s own publicly spoken bigotry against whites, Jews, Mormons, women and even fellow blacks, for which, unlike Imus, he does not apologize. It’s a free country—loud-mouthed troublemaker friends of a sycophantic media are free to say whatever they want.

What Imus jokingly said wasn’t racist of course, it was inaccurate, but you could almost hear his audience guffaw. Even if it was racist, as he was smeared, under some definition that no one has identified, doesn’t free speech allow a person to say what they want, or is that now a prohibited act punishable by firing—and verbal firing squads?

The athletes he referred to aren’t hos as far as is known, unless you mean it in the ebonic sense of “women,” or the generic cultural sense of people who sell their skills and talents for financial support or notoriety (“wage whores,” also known as “wage slaves,” or “publicity whores”).

In the sense of prostitution, the statement was simply inaccurate, and didn’t appear intended to mean that, but why confuse matters with the facts. Pictures of the women, who received more publicity due to the casually verbalized three-word phrase than anything their athletic skill earned, clearly show they are not nappy headed, so again, Imus is guilty of inaccuracy, and free speech is merely the victim, a tool for attacking political enemies.

And that may be the ultimate reason why Imus got the shaft. The NY-based DJ, though not a conservative by any stretch, was a fierce critic of NY-based liberal Hillary Clinton, whom he would never allow on his show (she claims she would never consent to go on). Politicos vied vigorously for airtime with Imus and his large following, and he had many on over the years.

Imus has called Hillary “Satan,” and a “witch,” and as an influential commentator, he was no asset to her campaign, especially operating in her back yard. Media Matters, a shadowy George-Soros funded ally of the Clinton camp, was instrumental in taping and circulating Imus’ comments, according to reports from the non-profit news watchdog Accuracy in Media. Hillary later called Imus “Satan”—what goes around comes around.

This controversy over words has an unequivocal bright side. “‘You can’t pay for publicity like this,’ said Shalonda Tanner, a Rutgers alumna who works as a recruiter for the university,” according to the Associated Press. Reportedly, donations are up, college applications are up, and logo merchandise is selling. Who else could we attack to help boost sales?

Keep in mind, Imus is not alone in suffering a harsh fate for hard words said on government-controlled, privately owned radio stations:

• Opie and Anthony got pink-slipped in Boston for inventing the mayor’s death in a car crash on April Fool’s Day;

• Bubba the Love Sponge was fired in Florida for a funny bit framing sexual acts between George Jetson and Scooby Doo;

• DJ Star in New York was fired for threatening to urinate on and abuse a rival DJ’s daughter (what’s radio coming to?);

• Hot 97 got hit with a $300,000 tax, called a “fine,” by New York’s attorney general, for Smackdown, a wildly successful show in which women competed to smack each other the hardest for cash and prizes State attorney general Eliot Spitzer said it violated laws that regulate combative sports—and it does involve acts, though only a soundtrack was broadcast and fined. Spitzer himself eventually resigned in disgrace for putting a woman down in a different way, as Client #9. The show’s hosts had also been canned for a parody about an Asian tsunami.

Unsuccessful calls to squelch radio commentators have been made against Rush Limbaugh for calling Barack Obama and Halle Berry “halfrican Americans,” Neil Boortz for saying black congresswoman Cynthia McKinney looks “like a ghetto slut,” Glenn Beck for calling some Katrina survivors, “scumbags,” Al Franken has endorsed firing several commentators for questioning the loyalty of black Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison, and Keith Olbermann slaps numerous speakers nationally as “The Worst Person in the World” on his MSNBC cable-TV show.

Howard Stern has the distinction of consistently paying the highest “taxes” to the FCC for his colorful language. He has since escaped to the lower speech controls of satellite radio. Free speech is more robust in outer space, where he is well established as a paragon of free-speech virtue.

Don Imus planned a $120 million lawsuit against his former employer for breech of contract, prompting some observers (and hopefully some management teams) to question the wisdom of capitulating to black or other instigators’ demands to squelch speech.

Eight months after the brouhoho began, Imus was back on the air, flagshipped at WABC in NYC with a reportedly $8 million contract in pocket. The racists’ efforts to muzzle him just made him bigger, kinda like Nelson Mandela. Serves them right. Sharpton’s real victim was CBS, who lost one of the top entertainers in the field. Serves them right too.

Though Imus was forced to capitulate and grovel for hours to the Rutgers team, and says he meant it, many fans unfettered by racist pressures wished for a more forthright stance, one that might sound like this:

Get a life, you bottom feeding maggots. It was a joke, OK? If your respect for my free speech is so thin-skinned you can’t tolerate nine seconds of dumbass humor, you need to shoot your radio and take a remedial class in American values. How dare you threaten me and anyone else with a mouth, who says something that offends you. You know what’s really offensive? You are. You and your pansy-assed girlyman, woosy-brained, claptrap crud-muffin commie pinko self-aggrandizement extortion campaign. Yeah, we’ve got your number, pal. Now some words from dozens of our wildly successful sponsors.

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This is author Alan Korwin’s 12th book, and his first on First Amendment issues. Eight of his prior works deal with the Second Amendment (guns), where he has established himself as a leading national expert. Writing as The Uninvited Ombudsman, his Page Nine blog ( breaks new ground on news-media accuracy.


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