If You Are Offended by the Word ‘Nigger’ Then Stop Reading Now.


I was up in Castle Road, Oranmore, just a couple of weeks back. That’s Oranmore, County Galway.  There I was, just enjoying the sunset and looking at the castle, when I heard the most unmerciful screaming coming from a young black couple.

I thought that I was suddenly In the middle of something that I most certainly did not want to be in the middle of.

“Hey nigger, you know I love you”, this guy was yelling – and I mean yelling – at his girlfriend.  Top of his voice.

“Yeah, I know you do, nigger”, was her reply.  Also screamed out. Also at the top of her voice.

I was fascinated by it. This young couple seemed to be in love and yet there they were, yelling ‘Nigger’ to the rooftops.  And being of an inquisitive nature I went over and got into conversation with them.

I’d like to tell you that they were a couple of scumbags; but not so.

I was amazed at the affection between them – yes, even as they were calling each other niggers.

They were New Yorkers and we ended up chatting about how much they loved being in Ireland and how it was their first holiday away together even though they had been with each other for two years.

We parted and I thought: Well, so much for first impressions. What a nice couple.

And then I thought: I wonder how that encounter would have gone if I’d said:

“Nice to meet you two niggers.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay.”

Not too well, I would imagine.

I was thinking of this today when I saw on the news that some utter morons had been waiting for a bookshop to open at midnight so that they could buy Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee in order to be offended by Atticus Finch supposedly being a racist.

Seriously, what kind of imbecile is let out from whatever mental home they’re in to buy a book at midnight that they can get their mitts on twelve hours later?  It makes no more sense to me than Kanye Kardashian using that word that we Caucasians aren’t allowed to use.

No more than many of you reading this, I have not read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. But also like many of you I adore To Kill a Mocking Bird.  It is one of the best and most compassionate books I have ever read.  Ever.

If you haven’t read it, it is about a Southern States lawyer who defends a black man who has been unjustly accused of raping a white woman. It doesn’t have a happy ending for the black guy.

This new one supposedly makes Atticus out to be a racist; yet from the few excerpts I’ve seen it’s more like he was a product of his time. The book was written in 1960.

Atticus Finch reminds me of my late father.  And when I saw him portrayed by Gregory Peck in the sublime film version it was even more so.

My dad tried to balance things in his mind before he gave my brothers or myself advice.  And yet he would often say things such as:  I was working like a nigger today.

That didn’t make him a bad man.  In fact, he was one of the very best men I have ever known. And, like most people, I wish to Christ I’d had the cop on and maturity to tell him that when he was alive.

I suspect (and I doubt if I’m very far wrong in this) that the bean counters have cajoled an 89-year-old lady into releasing a book that was never meant for publication.  And the idiots who queue at midnight are buying into that.

Those moneymen who have exploited a first attempt from an author who said that she only had To Kill a Mocking Bird in her…well, they should be ashamed of themselves. But I doubt that they are.

Atticus Finch, if I remember correctly, tells his daughter Scout that it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird.

But bean counters like the publishers of this old lady’s book don’t care too much about sin.  And I doubt that they care that they have probably killed a mocking bird either.