Monday, April 7, 2014

Should the Star be using words like 'thug'?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Gulp.
  • Gulp.
Has "thug" become a racist term? I'm not sure. But given that there is an ongoing public discussion about that word having evolved into a socially acceptable replacement for the N-word, I'm certainly steering clear of it.

I just kind of assumed every other non-race-baiting media outlet was, too, until I came across a Star story about a theft at 24th Street and Van Brunt Avenue on Friday afternoon. Police reporter Christine Vendel's story was headlined: "Thug steals iPad from teen outside KC restaurant." The lede: "A thug with a knife stole an iPad from a 14-year-old girl outside a restaurant Thursday night in Kansas City."

The story stayed that way on the Star's website for a good two hours (screenshot above), until an editor came along and subbed "teen" for "thug." But the URL still has the word "thug" in it, at least until somebody else scrubs that from the report, too.

I actually don't have a problem with the Star going the New York Post route, where criminals are referred to as "creeps" and "thugs"; it'd be an improvement over the gray, lifeless tone that prevails throughout much of the paper. But if the Star is going to play it straight, it's prooooooobably not a great idea for white reporters to think it's OK to toss a "thug" into a piece that's set in a predominantly black neighborhood. Particularly if that piece also contains other potentially racially charged details, like fried chicken and hoodies.

Also, how about that two-legged Washington dog charming millions on the Internet? What a hoot! Local news, everybody!


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