On August 5, 2007, a few residents of the small Louisiana town, Amite City, called the police. They complained that a man was cruising through the town with an indecent word prominently displayed on his car. The African-American man, Mr. Johnny Duncan, was stopped by authority figures, and ticketed for the obscenity. Mr. Duncan claims that he was simply advertising his book, You Might be a N**ger, and ticketing him is a violation of his First Amendment Rights.
In an interview with WAFB Channel 9 News anchors, Mr. Duncan revealed that he had been riding around town for two months with the promotional sign displayed on his car. He contends that the n-word, though offensive, is not a legal obscenity; therefore, the ticket is obsolete. Mr. Duncan believes he has the right to earn a living by advertising and promoting his product as does anyone else. Mr. Duncan plans to appeal the ticket on his Oct 3 court date, and challenge whether the n-word, displayed in a book or as part of a title, is lawfully obscene.
The interview, which can be viewed at http://wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=6894396, further addresses Mr. Duncan’s feelings regarding the alleged violation, the basis for his argument, and the reasons why he performed this seemingly offensive and illogical act. Because of all the other recent controversy surrounding the use of derogatory terms in reference to African Americans, interviewers believe that an army of reporters from around the country will attend the proceeding to see, first hand, the outcome.
The outcome and ramifications of this situation are uncertain. H. Lewis Smith, Founder & CEO of the United Voices for a Common Cause, is concerned about the prospect of a black man seeking the legal use of a degrading racial slur rooted in negative connotations toward the African-American community. Mr. Smith believes that Mr. Duncan’s actions may very well support other races’ use of the term, and cause confusion within the African-American community, adversely affecting progression from the use of the mind-controlling idiom. As well, Mr. Duncan’s “freedom of speech” angle, if upheld in court, may validate or justify freely using the term—another step backward.
If Mr. Duncan’s argument prevails during the October 3 showdown, the “Kramer” Richards and Don Imus’ of the world will creep up from the woodworks in droves. They will openly use the derogatory terms in reference to African Americans, unhindered, and graciously thank Mr. Duncan—an African-American man—for unequivocally upholding his right to “freedom of speech,” just so he—and anyone else—can use the n-word.
H. Lewis Smith, along with being the founder and CEO of the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., is the author of Bury that Sucka!: A Scandalous Love Affair With the N-word. Mr. Smith’s goal is to expose the magnitude of negativity the use of the n-word has on the subconscious, one’s self-perception, and lifetime success; promote the benefits of education; increase mind power; and end the use of the n-word. He has been a guest on numerous radio shows, some of which include Dennis Snipes’ 'FOCUS'; XM 169 The Power; and Da Breakfast Club, hosted by Tessa and Baby J.