did everyone know this was a racist song? (am i the only one who didnt?)

(147 Posts)
deakymom Mon 12-May-14 00:39:56


okay so basically the sun has got his hat on has the n word in it i never knew that i spoke to someone about it and they gave me the look hmm "everyone knows that don't they?" no i didnt blush we used to sing it in school i really dont remember that word being there?

am i the only one who didnt know?

Bogeyface Mon 12-May-14 00:41:46

I heard this on the news earlier, and I didnt know either. I think it was something to do with a particular (1932 iirc) version.

Apparently he has played it before and never heard the word in it. I do think sacking him on the basis of one mistake is a bit OTT, he should have had the chance to apologise and explain.

CorusKate Mon 12-May-14 00:43:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

deakymom Mon 12-May-14 00:44:06

it does seem a bit of an overreaction but racism it racism what was it doing on the song list though? they dont just google it surely there is a list?

cutefluffybunnes Mon 12-May-14 00:44:12

Nope, didn't no that, either!

Doristhecamel Mon 12-May-14 00:44:50

Really?shock I had no idea either.

Had no idea.

PatrickStarisabadbellend Mon 12-May-14 00:45:58

Hope they sack all the presenters who play snoop dog, ice cube and jay-z!

Notfastjustfurious Mon 12-May-14 00:50:06

Didn't even know there was more than one verse! The article said it was from his private collection so he probably hadn't played it in years and really who'd have thought it. Massive overreaction from the BBC though. Agree with Patrick, the n word is thrown about all over the place in rap and nobody bats an eye.

LettertoHerms Mon 12-May-14 00:51:12

Oh, the article makes me a bit sad. He seems genuinely upset and contrite, he wanted to apologize on air and they wouldn't let him.

I'm not familiar with the song, but it seems like an easy mistake, if it's commonly known song without the word in it. The record was from his own collection, he probably just picked it up, 'Oh that's interesting, a version from 1932.' He should have noticed, but I certainly don't hear every word to songs I'm playing, and if the lyrics were slightly different from the version I knew firmly, it might not register.

Ludways Mon 12-May-14 00:55:26

I sing it all the time to get my dc's out of bed on a morning, lol. I've only ever sang one verse over and over again, I didn't even know there was a second verse.

I love the song, can I just sing the bit I know still or would that be bad now I know?

DoJo Mon 12-May-14 00:57:49

That seems a shame - it was clearly a mistake and I bet there are only a handful of people who know the song even has a second verse, let alone well enough to remember the lyrics clearly. An apology should have been enough, especially considering how heartfelt I imagine it would have been.

I wonder if the listener who wrote in was anticipating this response from the BBC. I would feel awful in their shoes.

TillyTellTale Mon 12-May-14 00:59:32

hmm. I didn't know it beyond the first verse, and the chorus. So, like the national anthem then The question for me is: is that because of my age? Would someone older reasonably be expected to be familiar with the whole of it?

On the other hand, the following quote from the article doesn't sound very apologetic to me!

I don't have any quarrels with any of my colleagues. It's the system of political correctness which has turned this into a rather badly-handled affair. "I think we're all too ready to bow to political correctness. One feels one is following a verbal tightrope, even in casual conversation."

Caitlin17 Mon 12-May-14 01:06:35

I only know
"The sun has got his hat on
Hip,hip, hip hooray,
The sun has got his hat on,
And we're coming out to play
Every one be happy,
Hip, hip, hooray"
Repeat ad nausea

So yes exactly like the National Anthem (and unlike whatever dirge Scotland uses at rugby/football matches where I don't even know 1 verse)

DoJo Mon 12-May-14 01:08:19

That quote seems to be from him after he had offered to resign, had his resignation accepted and then been told that he could have his job back but too late to stop the stress of the situation exacerbating a health condition which made him decide not to return to broadcasting. I think he probably felt that a moment's thought before a massive over-reaction could have prevented both the end of a 30 year career and a decline in his health.

DoJo Mon 12-May-14 01:08:46

Sorry - that was to Tilly.

One of my fondest, earliest childhood memories is attached to this song. I had no idea! I wonder how many people know?

With notfastjust in agreement with Patrick too!

TillyTellTale Mon 12-May-14 01:12:05

Terry Pratchett had some wonderfully accurate remarks about national anthems, if I could be bothered to hunt them down.

No-one ever knows the second verse. Except scoundrels.

“It is considered in the Sto Plains that only scoundrels know the second verse of their national anthem, since anyone spending time memorizing that would be up to no good purpose.”

Okay, I lied. Here's one quote.

CorusKate Mon 12-May-14 01:13:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlpacaYourThings Mon 12-May-14 01:14:19

I didn't know that either.

I'm not sure I understand why he was sacked/forced to resign.

He played a song with a racist word in it? Seems like a mistake. If he himself had said the word or expressed that he agreed with the word being used, fair enough, sack him.

Caitlin17 Mon 12-May-14 01:14:54

Not the first time this has arisen. I don't recall this incident in 2007.

ITV feels the heat over N-word song lyrics


TillyTellTale Mon 12-May-14 01:16:04

DoJo I have no doubt that it is from him, post the debacle. However, people who claim that political correctness is like following a tightrope are voicing their personal experiences of feeling actively constrained by it. i.e., they found that political correctness got in the way of things they wanted to say.

What did they want to say, exactly? <narrows eyes> Political correctness has never prevented me from saying anything!

CorusKate Mon 12-May-14 01:18:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PolkadotsAndMoonbeams Mon 12-May-14 01:18:27

If I had to hear the word then personally I'd rather hear it in a song from the thirties, used in a way that was in common parlance and is outdated rather than in rap when it's been put in specifically because it's that word if that makes sense.

I think sacking him was very heavy-handed, an apology saying "the song contained this word, I'm very sorry for any offence caused, of course I wouldn't have played it if I'd realised" would have been absolutely fine. He didn't do it to hurt or offend anybody, how could he when he didn't know the word was in there?

TillyTellTale Mon 12-May-14 01:21:52

Corus Says they broadcast the actual line.

How the hell did that happen? This was just a guy in his 70's fishing a record off the pile. I can see how that would happen.

That's quite different to a production team setting footage to music without hearing the lyrics!

Ludways Mon 12-May-14 01:25:32

Apparently he was offered his job back but didn't want it. That's what it days on Wikipedia, so it must be true! Lol

GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 01:34:31

I think the BBC were rotten not to let him apologise. This - the BBC's decision - is "political correctness gorn mad" and I hope that's what the guy was referring to in his comments. I hear the BBC is rather unkind to many of its employees, especially older ones, and don't doubt that being fired for something a singer sang in 1935 added to an existing (work related) stress related condition.

Clarkson hasn't been fired, has he?

Caitlin17 Mon 12-May-14 01:38:16

CorusKate It's not a terribly well written piece but it says later down

The ITV1 evening news show broadcast the line: "He's been tanning niggers out in Timbuktu, now he's coming back to do the same to you."

It's quite breathtaking.

DoJo Mon 12-May-14 01:38:43

Tilly - I don't share your interpretation of what he means by walking a verbal tightrope. I took it to be a description of exactly the sort of situation that has happened here - someone makes an innocent mistake, and instead of applying rational thought and making a decision based on the most likely explanation, people have a knee-jerk reaction that fails to take into account the wealth of facts which would suggest there isn't anything untoward going on.
I am a big fan of political correctness in general, and agree that it is often derided by those who hold objectionable views. However, given the circumstances of this comment, I think he is probably right to feel as though some form, albeit a misguided version of 'political correctness' was a factor in the regrettable over-reaction on the part of the BBC.

GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 01:39:02

I'd rather hear it in a song from the thirties, used in a way that was in common parlance and is outdated rather than in rap when it's been put in specifically because it's that word if that makes sense.


GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 01:40:14

Not breathtaking for 1935, Caitlin. Back then, it was considered [lighthearted].

CorusKate Mon 12-May-14 01:43:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LettertoHerms Mon 12-May-14 01:48:07

Ludways, he first wrote an apology and asked for the chance to apologize on air. They refused him, and told him he could not have his job back.

Eventually they realized they might have made a mistake, but he did not accept the job as the stress caused by the incident was all too much, exacerbating his previous stress-related health condition.

ComposHat Mon 12-May-14 01:51:58

Okay one bbc presenter with a track record of not do much flirting with bigoted language, but humping bigoted language's leg, gets a meaninglessness slap on the wrist after footage emerges of him mumbling nigger, straight after using slope to describe an Asian man. When caught out changes his story in an effort tovsave his skin

Another bbc presenter inadvertently plays a song which very few of us knew had the word nigger in it and the offending word is broadcast. At worse careless, but no malice or offence intended. Yet is sacked on the spot.

Is it any surprise that the one who kept his job presents a tv programme that is a big revenue earner, whilst the other is an obscure local radio DJ who appears to be expendable?

Funny how the BBC is very quick to forget their principles when revenue may be affected. This is nothing to do with' pc gone mad' but of a greedy and hypocritical BBC.

Caitlin17 Mon 12-May-14 01:56:50

garlic I meant breathtaking from a modern day pov that it was ever acceptable.

PolkadotsAndMoonbeams Mon 12-May-14 02:06:01

But then this was banned at the time. Now a high proportion of songs we hear are about actual sex, not just hinting at it. Different priorities and levels of knowledge of other people, that's all.

GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 02:07:37

Ah! Yes, Caitlin smile It's interesting how the meaning attached to words (as well as their actual meaning) changes over time, very often quickly. I've lived long enough that I had to stop saying 'black' and replace it with 'coloured', then 'black' again, and I'm buggered if I'm going to say 'person of colour' now, it's too bloody long-winded.

I gasped (well, slightly) on Friday, when Nikki in East Enders joked she'd "bring back a ladyboy" for Terry from Thailand. Presumably the ever-vigilant BBC didn't notice that was at least two kinds of wrong!

It might be time for a revival of 'Til Death Us Do Part. We could do with some ironic perspective ... Maybe!

GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 02:11:58

Oh, good find, Polka!

And "Je t'aime... moi non plus", that was banned for being sexy grin

CorusKate Mon 12-May-14 02:16:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorusKate Mon 12-May-14 02:19:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chottie Mon 12-May-14 05:38:11

OP - I didn't know either. I didn't know there was a second verse, I have sung this song to my DCs for years too.

ApocalypseThen Mon 12-May-14 06:16:04

I'm astonished at how many people are tripping over themselves to say that it's all fine, he's 70 so can't possibly know the content/understand what's wrong with it...

The fact is, the song has genuinely racially offensive language. I understand that in these days of barrier pushing ukippery it may not be the thing to constrain your use of this kind of language, but it should be.

meditrina Mon 12-May-14 06:26:12

The word is there in older songs and books because it was normal speech then.

And although films such as The Dambusters would now be broadcast only in the edited form, I bet there are loads of original versions.

Ditto Dorothy L Sayers books.

I too dont get why it's ok to use the word in modern songs, no one gets sacked wben they're played.

Don't think anyone's said it was OK to have played it - it was a horrible error - but a lot of people are saying that it was an understandable and forgiveable one under the circumstances. You can distinguish between the gravity of the outcome and the moral culpability of the perpetrator.

Icimoi Mon 12-May-14 06:52:12

I think though that you can see where the BBC was coming from. Where Clarkson didn't enunciate the word, recognised it was wrong, and went to some trouble to see it was not broadcast, this DJ actually brought the record in from his own collection and ensured that it was broadcast. It's reasonable to assume that he had heard it in the past, and it is surprising that he didn't check it, if only to see whether it was broadcast quality if it was an old vinyl record.

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Mon 12-May-14 07:09:05

Sorry but of all the ways that the word can be used, saying that the world turns and the sun shines on everyone (to paraphrase the song) isn't really worth getting that worked up about.

It was a one off airing in the context of an Oldies show.

What were the BBC worried about? Do they think Nazis tune in to local radio oldies shows and might actually <clutches pearls> sing along? Lots of elderly people know all the words and happily sing along. It doesn't make them racist. Sorry, I really don't think there is such a thing as racist words and we need to stop being so lazy and look at context, intent and audience. This song is a good example of the word being used in a non racist way.

Anyone thought of what the word for black is in Spanish?

Oh no, I can see it now, Lowe will become a UKIP mascot and the song will be their anthem. Not because of the merits of the song, but because of this political football, to make a point.

meditrina Mon 12-May-14 07:17:35

Actually, is the full version of the 1955 Dambusters still shown?

Why would it be wrong (in period context, and historically accurate) in that film, but included in (far more recent) Samuel L Jackson films?

Icimoi Mon 12-May-14 07:38:45

Clearly the BBC's worries have nothing whatsoever to do with any fear that people will become racist, and everything to do with the massive fuss people will make if they are seen to ignore this, particularly certain sections of the media which are obsessed with finding excuses to attack them to an absolutely astonishing degree. Poor sods are damned whatever they do.

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Mon 12-May-14 07:45:32

Or maybe he was ill and an expensive employee and they were looking for an excuse to sack him.

Ludways Mon 12-May-14 07:47:21

Lettertoherms, I don't know why you've addressed your comment to me?

JakeBullet Mon 12-May-14 07:52:09

I didn't know but then again I never really pay attention to words in a song...just the tune. Tbh I only know the first couple of lines of this, used to sing it to DS as a baby.

It sounds like this was handed badly and the presenter was not aware of the word in the song.

I know it from the musical Me and my Girl with Gary Wilmott, which I saw when I was a kid. I had no idea there was an older version of the song.

OwlCapone Mon 12-May-14 07:56:04

The fact is, the song has genuinely racially offensive language.

It is more racially offensive than rap songs now though? As I understand it, the song contains one incidence of a word that is now racially offensive, simply used as a noun with no actual racism attached to it, as part of what was acceptable language in 1932.

Clearly it should have been spotted before it went to air but I do think a simple apology for the mistake should have been sufficient. There was no intended offense behind it and it is probably less offensive than many rap songs.

I'm not getting into any kind of debate about whether rap songs are Ok or not, just using them as a counter example.

0blio Mon 12-May-14 07:56:10

So the BBC will sack someone for playing a song almost no-one knew was racist, but continue to play god save the queen.

UrbaneLandlord Mon 12-May-14 08:00:20

How about we all move forward to the post-racism society; where Jeremy Clarkson, Prince Harry, me, and most people (apart from anxiety-ridden hand-wringing leftie liberals) already live?

In this post-racism society, we can all use whatever language we want; provided that the context is such that no offence is intended.

Wouldn't that be a great place to live?

OwlCapone Mon 12-May-14 08:01:18

What is wrong with God Save the Queen?

How about we all move forward to the post-racism society; where Jeremy Clarkson, Prince Harry, me, and most people (apart from anxiety-ridden hand-wringing leftie liberals) already live?

We'd need to eradicate racism first

OwlCapone Mon 12-May-14 08:05:23

There is a big difference between someone using the word now and it appearing in a song from over 70 years ago when the language was contemporary. Especially when it is not used on an offensive way in that paRticular song.

Which is not the same as saying it should have been broadcast, just that a simply apology for the mistake should have sufficed.

JennyPiccolo Mon 12-May-14 08:09:43

Rap music is written by people who have reclaimed the word. I didn't think that's comparable.

God save the queen is xenophobic dirge, is what's wrong with it.

Jeremy Clarkson is the opposite of living in a post-racism society - he's playing silly "ooh! I almost said a rude word, but not really, look at me aren't I naughty?" games. The "slope" case was a classic case in point. Deeply childish - and normally the childish streak in Top Gear is exactly why I love it, when they are letting down each other's tyres and putting horses heads in their tents or whatever, but not appropriate in this area because it's only banter if the subject of the joke is in on it.

PolkadotsAndMoonbeams Mon 12-May-14 08:14:50

Oh I like it, the big swelling crescendo in the middle and then the brass come in <sighs happily>

KittyandTeal Mon 12-May-14 08:15:17

Ok so I totally understand and agree that modern use of the n word is appalling. However, surely these things need to been seen/read/listened to within the context of the time.

It's a little bit like the publisher who edited parts of Huckleberry Fin to remove the n word in books for schools. However, the word has an important historical context in the book that needs discussing.

I know that's slightly different but I do think that modern music using the n word is much much more offensive than very old music (and yes I do understand the idea of 'reclaiming' the word within black culture)

NotNewButNameChanged Mon 12-May-14 08:18:42

Kitty - the modern use of the n word is only appalling in some songs or situations and only when used by certain sections of the population. Apparently.

Tweasels Mon 12-May-14 08:18:57

I has no idea this song had a racist line in it. I used to have it on an LP <gimmer> of children's songs when I was little.

Come to think of it, that album also had Puff the Magic Dragon and Two Little Boys on hmm

LarrytheCucumber Mon 12-May-14 08:20:46

We had it on a children's record and used to play it in assembly sometimes and it was years before I realised that it conained the word 'darkies' presumably as a substitute for the n word. Didn't play it again.

Tweasels Mon 12-May-14 08:26:29

Ha ha, you have to laugh at the sheer stupidity of some record company thinking it would be ok to use the word 'darkie' instead. Fucking idiots.

OwlCapone Mon 12-May-14 08:32:18

Rap music is written by people who have reclaimed the word. I didn't think that's comparable.

And this song is written before the word was considered racially offensive.

TBH, I don't agree with the whole "reclaimed the word" thing. I feel it is either acceptable or not and it's difficult to claim it's offensive when you are using it yourself. However, as a white person, that's none of my business and up to the people using it. Personally, I simply don't use the word at all.

sarinka Mon 12-May-14 08:37:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Mon 12-May-14 08:38:17

I don't think it was necessarily a problem to broadcast the song, as a one off, but it needed a few words said before it played in case some people didn't want that language in their homes.

It's sad that so many people are taking the words out of context of the full lines of the song and the meaning there. All the song says is that black skin was the result of the human body's in built protection from the sun's affect. It's a joke that the sun will 'do the same to you'.

Sorry, but acceptance of different skin colour and discussion about all of us being equal under the same sun is considered a good thing within earshot of my radio. hmm

JustPassingThru Mon 12-May-14 08:42:59

Apparently the lyrics were rewritten, there are several versions, and only one with the n word in it. So he was unlucky to have picked that particular version, IME.

Meditrina - the Dambusters is a U certificate film (despite the death count hmm) and traditionally shown on telly on bank holiday afternoons. Pulp Fiction, not so much.

aermingers Mon 12-May-14 08:43:54

I actually find this all really scary. Destroying people and their careers because you suspect they might have thoughts you disapprove of. It's akin to McCarthyism.

"JennyPiccoloMon 12-May-14 08:09:43

Rap music is written by people who have reclaimed the word. I didn't think that's comparable."

Elvis costello then. I hear that one all the time.

OwlCapone Mon 12-May-14 08:52:49

God save the queen is xenophobic dirge, is what's wrong with it.

So, like every other national anthem that bigs up the country concerned?

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Mon 12-May-14 08:54:28

Are we going to ban ever book with a racist character now?
Not so long ago there was a BBC non news article about how scientists had published research showing that black skin was originally due to the development of the skin's natural defence systems over many generations of people living in very hot countries.

I don't remember there being any mention of any controversy over that. But it was basically the same thing, just different words.

LarrytheCucumber Mon 12-May-14 08:54:31

In the course of his work my DS has frequently been called 'white boy' but that doesn't seem to matter as long as he doesn't make a racist remark in return. Makes me cross.He just lets it all wash over him.

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Mon 12-May-14 08:55:24

Exactly aermingers.

Preciousbane Mon 12-May-14 09:11:22

DS had a racist remark made to him at school and retaliated by calling the lad a pork pie as it was the most English food he could think of. He was a little kid, I explained why he shouldn't.

Having been at the end of genuine racism, really nasty stuff I actually feel very sorry for this man and think he should have been allowed to apologise on air.

Clarkson is famous and a big money spinner which is why he was allowed to get away with it. He is a complete nob and the difference between this poor old chap and him is a yawning gulf.

Is all double standards with the BBC and about £££.

Caitlin17 Mon 12-May-14 09:13:22

I really don't buy "rappers are reclaiming the word" For it to be reclaimed it would have had at some point no negative connotations.

"Gay" for example is used as a horrible insult but has 2 other perfectly acceptable meanings.

The use of the n word or indeed honky by rappers is just to shock and possibly to laugh at over-sensitive liberals trying to make it acceptable.

NotNewButNameChanged Mon 12-May-14 09:35:05

Caitlin there was a thread on this at the time of the Clarkson incident.

As I pointed out, in 1885, Gilbert and Sullivan's Mikado had a reference to a "nigger serenader" which in the 1940s was replaced by "banjo". This was not, back in 1885, an offensive remark. It referred to groups of black musicians who came over from America and performed in London and the provinces and who called themselves The Nigger Minstrels. It was not used as a derogatory term, in this country at least, until much later, so in terms of your last comment, it could be stated with some accuracy that it certainly didn't have a negative connotation at some point - in the UK, anyway.

Either that, or black musicians were 'reclaiming' it over 100 years before the rappers felt the need to.

DoJo Mon 12-May-14 09:37:43

I'm astonished at how many people are tripping over themselves to say that it's all fine, he's 70 so can't possibly know the content/understand what's wrong with it...

Who has said that?

NotNewButNameChanged Mon 12-May-14 09:41:11

It's OK. Our Glorious Leader, "Call Me Dave" Cameron, has been on TV this morning to say the BBC seems to have over-reacted in this instance.

Oldraver Mon 12-May-14 09:42:07

I didnt have a clue, I only know the first verse and regularly sing (ahem) this to DS.

ComposHat Mon 12-May-14 09:50:20

Elvis Costello's Oliver's Army is about the British government recruiting for the army in areas of high areas of youth employment (the boys from the mersey, the thames and the tyne) to maintain british rule in Northern Ireland. Oliver being Oliver Cromwell

I think the 'all it takes one itchy trigger, one more widow one less white nigger' makes use of a term that was routinely applied by British soldiers to the native population, 'white niggers' or 'the niggers of Europe'. So I'd say given the context of highlighting the bigotry it is integral to the song.

This is why context is important.

TillyTellTale Mon 12-May-14 09:51:03


Fair enough. That is a possible interpretation.

I think that this is probably one of those cases where you need to know the person! I suppose I know people, who if in this situation, would mean the words the way you take it. Unfortunately I also know people who would mean his words the way I interpreted them.

With the present political situation, I think I'm getting overly bad-tempered, and seeing the worst in everyone. Sorry.

<Goes off to vent by shouting at definitely racist family members>

So it isnt the case that the word itself should never be said or heard.

AnyaKnowIt Mon 12-May-14 09:53:31

I didn't know, until I made the same mistake at a kids birthday party.

Thought it was a safe kids song on YouTube, stuck to the Mr tumble version now.

FreudiansSlipper Mon 12-May-14 10:01:30

The 'n' word was socially acceptable as it was socially acceptable to be racist the word has always been offensive

It was was used then as you were not often questioned, I am sure many did not give it a second thought but that does not mean the word was not offensive because it was and still is

DoJo Mon 12-May-14 10:06:25


I completely agree re. people who 'blame' political correctness for preventing them from being complete arses (although most of them still manage somehow!) but this is the sort of situation which feeds that IMO. If we can't react proportionally to things then it plays into the hands of those who claim that 'you can't say anything these days' whilst undermining the seriousness and pervasiveness of real racism by lumping it in with those who make fairly simple mistakes.

On the other hand, it sounds like you have to put up with a lot more overt instances of racism than I do so I will count my blessings that I have that luxury and wish you good luck with your family! smile

YeGodsAndLittleFishes Mon 12-May-14 10:15:56

So it isn't the case that the word itself should never be said or heard.

This is what the whole thing throws up. According to the BBC it is not worth it to grow a backbone, offer an apology and come up with an inteligent and workable way to avoid this happening again. Oh no, let's sack the DJ and ban the song.

Judging from all the replies on here, most people wanted the song banned because of the clear use of the offending word.

When people say something like 'they should have stayed in Timbuktu' or 'they should go back to Timbuktu' that is racist. Anything suggesting that people born in Britain with black skin don't belong in Britain as much as people with white skin and don't have the same rights, then that is racist.

Yet we have political parties in this country who are able to spout their racism from a political platform.

OwlCapone Mon 12-May-14 10:26:08

According to the BBC it is not worth it to grow a backbone, offer an apology and come up with an inteligent and workable way to avoid this happening again. Oh no, let's sack the DJ and ban the song.

I wonder what colour the people who decided the DJ should be sacked are? Purely because these reactions are more often due to over zealous white people trying not to offend and be squeaky clean. Like the whole banning Baa Baa Black sheep stuff.

In cases like this, I think it is PC Gorn Mad insofar as it was a mistake and an apology, followed by steps to make sure it didn't happen again, would have sufficed. I don't mean that the word or song are acceptable.

sauvignonblacks Mon 12-May-14 10:27:32

It's very contradictory considering the Jeremy Clarkson affair, but I don't think you can compare the use of the N word in this song to Rap Music, it's from a different era whereby its meant to be offensive, most rappers use it almost as a term of endearment, it's ownership of an offensive word.

JaackSparroww Mon 12-May-14 10:34:52

Jeremy Clarkson did a video and said "oh god, it does sound like that doesn't it?"
Einie, meenie, minie, mo, catch a nipper by its toe, if he hollers let him go, einie, meenie, minie, mo.
if you wikipedia it they DID use that word in the older ones. Even so, the footage of Jeremy Clarkson saying this weren't even used in the show.
He apologised for it even though he didn't even say it.
This song is an old song but he could have used a newer one. Even my 80 year old grandmother would know that that word isn't to be used. ignorance is rife in this country.

MakeMineaMartina Mon 12-May-14 10:36:07

Olivers army whatever the word is in context is still the n word yet played all the time on daytime radio and no one gets sacked.

NotNewButNameChanged Mon 12-May-14 10:44:43

I've just discovered another thread in AIBU whereby a poster is being urged by the vast majority of posters to change the name of their dog, which is black in colour, and named by their young child as Blackie, because it might cause offence and it's not something you should be shouting in case it is misconstrued.

By that token, no ginger cats should be called Ginger for fear of upsetting someone with red hair who might move in next door.


Thats what I dont understand makemine.
so clearly it's not just about the word it's about the context.
the context here if you ignore the word seems fairly benign. I'm sre im going to get flamed by this but I thought we were all differing colours because of the effects of the sun?

NetworkGuy Mon 12-May-14 11:00:40

TTT : "Would someone older reasonably be expected to be familiar with the whole of it?"

I'm mid 50s. Don't remember hearing a second verse, to be frank, and if it was a version from 1932, just how old would one need to be for that version to be familiar, word for word?

Seems odd that from time to time, on BBC R4 Extra, there are comments about "views held at the time" when playing material from the 50s 60s 70s, as a warning that it may break current PC expectations, yet they can jump on a guy for what was likely to be a genuine mistake - I for one would not expect him to have chosen it if he had known, nor chosen it if he wanted to test the boundaries, but an oversight.

Yes, his comment about walking a tightrope might seem unapologetic, but so many who are "in the public eye" can say something which will cause offence, and not realise until too late.

deakymom Mon 12-May-14 11:03:55

the full version of the dam busters is still shown i was surprised WTF did they call that DOG!!

Montegomongoose Mon 12-May-14 11:13:59

Rap music is written by people who have reclaimed the word

I'd like to know how I explain that to my kids who (mixed race) have been raised to abhor the n-word but do understand they may encounter it in old books, films etc.

"Reclaimed" my arse.

It's either acceptable or not.

I'm going for 'not.'

NotNewButNameChanged Mon 12-May-14 11:37:31

I agree with Monte on the "reclaiming" issue.

Rappers say they are "reclaiming" it. Does this mean that, at some point in the future, it will no longer be deemed an offensive term but be acceptable? And that people of all colours will be free to use it? I asked this question on the Clarkson thread and was told "no, of course not, it won't be right for anyone other than blacks to use it".

In my book, then, it's not reclaimed. The fact also remains that the vast majority of black people who aren't rappers don't like the word FULL STOP, whoever is using it. Therefore, it's not acceptable.

ComposHat Mon 12-May-14 11:38:45

I really struggle to work out what I think about arguments about reclaiming the word nigger. I completely that some African-Americans have taken the word and by reclaiming it, have diluted the venom the word contains and similar things have occusred with some British Asians reclaiming Paki and people with disabilities reclaiming terms like cripple or spastic.

I get that within the context of insider groups that this could have a transformative effect, but I fear the argument starts to break down when it appears in mainstream media, such as hip hop or films. If the word is intended to be a term for use within a marginalised group, don't plaster it over multi-platinum selling hip hop records aimed at white suburban teenagers.

It also give succour to bigots who will say things like 'Jay-z refers to himself as a nigger in this song, so I can use it with impunity.' Neither teenagers or bigots are known for their appreciation of nuance and context. It becomes a bit of a Pandora's box.

OwlCapone Mon 12-May-14 11:52:48

I really struggle to work out what I think about arguments about reclaiming the word nigger.

I have this sorted in my head: It is my personal opinion that it is offensive whoever uses it. However, as I am white, I accept that if a black person wants to use it I am really not in a position to argue. If they wish to say they are "reclaiming" it then fine. They are reclaiming it for themselves, not for me, a white person.

I can still find it odd that it's perfectly OK to play these songs on the radio but not very old ones where no offence was intended though.

GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 11:56:18

Apocalypse - The fact is, the song has genuinely racially offensive language ... The BBC article, in the OP, says the n-word was taken out of the song in later versions. Due to the nature of the show, the original 1935 version was played.

There's no reason in the world why the DJ would know one word had been changed since then.

GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 12:00:35

NotNew and Compos - there are lots of 'negative' words that are used by those they apply to, but rude if used by others. Scouser is one. In the same vein, I can call myself a lazy cow but am less than impressed if other people do.

Montegomongoose Mon 12-May-14 12:09:44

there are lots of 'negative' words that are used by those they apply to, but rude if used by others

Then don't use them.

It really is that simple.

Trying to justify the n-word in the context of reclaiming, empowering, subversive or ironic use is merely patronising and confusing claptrap spewed out by over-intellectualising fools tying themselves in knots trying not to offend.

It's a nasty word. Don't use it. Any of you.

GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 12:13:18

I tend to agree wink

ArmyDad Mon 12-May-14 12:15:30

Do rappers use this word on mainstream radio? I don't think I've ever heard it. Although I have heard it in Oliver's army. By mainstream I mean outside of any rap specific shows?

On another note I used to share a room with 2 racist idiots in my singlie days. They listened to rap snd I never understood why

ComposHat Mon 12-May-14 12:19:32

I have this sorted in my head: It is my personal opinion that it is offensive whoever uses it. However, as I am white, I accept that if a black person wants to use it I am really not in a position to argue. If they wish to say they are "reclaiming" it then fine. They are reclaiming it for themselves, not for me, a white person.

Exactly this, but as a white middle class liberal, I am not in a position to say to a black person who has had the word used against them, 'you are not to use or not to reclaim this word, it is offensive.' They could quite reasonably turn round and say: you are not likely to have it used against you, who are you to say how we try to limit the sting of this word.'

Montegomongoose Mon 12-May-14 12:31:40

as a white middle class liberal, I am not in a position to say to a black person who has had the word used against them, 'you are not to use or not to reclaim this word, it is offensive.

Of course you are.

You think it an abhorrent word.

To choose not to point that out to someone based on the colour of their skin is, in my opinion, racist. You remaking a decision based on the colour you see.

Now, if you spent time talking to that person about their use of the word, your liberal dilemma, your respective experiences etc, then you'd be in a position to judge.

But blanket decision based on skin colour? When it happens to me, I feel patronised. I don't want to be spoken for or have racist words okayed by someone who is freaking about about whether they appear small-minded rather than just bloody well asking me how I feel.

I think everyone is able to decide for themselves.

I'm not white. I detest the word. Please don't speak for me or excuse it in order to establish your liberal credentials. grin

This is why I love the British <sweeping, slightly patronising but heartily affectionate statement>

ComposHat Mon 12-May-14 12:49:52

I'm not white. I detest the word. Please don't speak for me or excuse it in order to establish your liberal credentials.

I am not speaking for you, just as you don't speak for all people of colour. I am just saying that I can understand the process of why people who had the word nigger deployed against them would attempt to reclaim it and rob it of its power to hurt. I am not saying you or anyone should do this, but can understand the thought process behind someone making that decision.

TillyTellTale Mon 12-May-14 12:52:20

I wish, wish, wish, wish they would sack Clarkson so much more now.

Clarkson deliberately used a racial epithet. Although apparently without realising that a slang term for a particular ethnicity could be offensive.

In a statement, Wilman responded: "When we used the word "slope" in the recent Top Gear Burma special it was a light-hearted wordplay joke referencing both the build quality of the bridge and the local Asian man who was crossing it.

"We were not aware at the time, and it has subsequently been brought to our attention, that the word 'slope' is considered by some to be offensive and although it might not be widely recognised in the UK, we appreciate that it can be considered offensive to some here and overseas, for example in Australia and the USA.

TillyTellTale Mon 12-May-14 12:53:00

hmm at Clarkson

AgaPanthers Mon 12-May-14 12:58:48



The line is 'He's been tanning niggers, out in Timbuktu. Now he's coming back to do the same to you. So jump into your sun bath, hip-hip hooray'.

It is the original recording, and has been on TV and radio a number of times (recently even) before:


Montegomongoose Mon 12-May-14 12:59:14

can understand the thought process behind someone making that decision

I can't.

I appreciate that some people choose to behave provocatively and enjoy shocking others and using words aggressively.

I think it's a bit childish to be honest.

I know someone who insists in using that word in front of white people because he likes making them uncomfortable.

He used it in front of my children and he is no longer welcome in my house. My family fought too long and too hard against racial abuse to condone it.

It's fashionable posturing at best and it makes me sad and angry in equal measure.

5Foot5 Mon 12-May-14 13:05:10

Come to think of it, that album also had Puff the Magic Dragon and Two Little Boys on

Huh! What am I missing? Is there any reason why either of those songs is not acceptable now?

Topaz25 Mon 12-May-14 13:16:01

Two little boys was sung by Rolf Harris, who is on trial for sexual assault. Puff the magic dragon is associated with drug use.

GarlicMayHaveNamechanged Mon 12-May-14 13:21:35

Pfft. (Or puff wink) In the 60s & 70s, grumpy adults could read drug references into any song lyrics at all. You had to be there to believe it! And if it wasn't drug references, it was satanic incantations played backwards. Extra points if you could read both into one song.

5Foot5 Mon 12-May-14 13:26:50

Two little boys was sung by Rolf Harris, who is on trial for sexual assault

So what? Even if he is found guilty I am no fan of this idea that just because someone has been shamed this automatically taints all their work and makes it unplayable. No-one is going to come to any harm by listening to charming songs like Two Little Boys or jake the Peg.

Puff the magic dragon is associated with drug use.
Agree with Garlic on this that people read to much in to things. Anyway I remember learning a tap dance to Puff the Magic Dragon for a tap exam and that was in the early 70s so it can't have been a universally held belief.

ComposHat Mon 12-May-14 13:27:04

monte I can fully understand why you feel that way and my personal view is pretty close to that in that it is a word that should never be directed at another human being. I can on the other hand understand the rationale for attempting to neutralise the word that has been used to wound you. I don't think it successful or unproblematic and has had unintended consequences. But I can see why someone could come to that view.

SueDoku Mon 12-May-14 13:34:20

The song comes from the musical 'Me and My Girl', and when this was re-written (and became a huge hit in London and on Broadway' in the early 80s) all the lyrics and book were revised by Stephen Fry, and this particular lyric became He's been roastin peanuts out in Timbuctoo Here is a copy of all the verses - for all of you to sing to your children.... smile


AgaPanthers Mon 12-May-14 13:46:40

Puff the Magic Dragon has got nothing to do with drug use. Have you watched the cartoon?


AgaPanthers Mon 12-May-14 13:49:15

And Two Little Boys has very little to do with Rolf Harris, predating him by decades


Caitlin17 Mon 12-May-14 14:01:34

On the reclaiming of the n word maybe rappers really want to reclaim it as a word to describe 19th century minstrel troupes but it seems unlikely.

I don't think it neutralises the word. I understand the reasons behind calling a band NWA but also feel continued use of the word is trying to be shocking just for the sake of it rather than being genuinely shocking to make people think.

I tend to agree that if a word isn't suitable for 1 group to use then it isn't suitable for anyone.

Gay is completely unobjectionable whether one is or isn't homosexual and/or cheerful.It's a good word in either of its meanings and should be reclaimed from idiots who use it as an insult.

Montegomongoose Mon 12-May-14 14:05:40

Compos you sound far more tolerant than I! grin

AgaPanthers Mon 12-May-14 14:10:19

I think Bill Cosby has it pretty well. Rappers calling themselves niggas are perpetuating negative stereotypes, not dispelling them. How is it reclaiming the word, when the people singing 'nigga nigga nigga' have criminal records as long as your arm and many end up dead in pointless killings?

CorusKate Mon 12-May-14 14:18:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

partialderivative Mon 12-May-14 14:19:34

I remember singing "He's been tanning tourists down in Timbuctoo" in a pub back in the 70's, someone had handed out a song sheet and we were all having a knees up.

I hadn't realised these weren't the original lyrics, though they did strike me as being a little odd.

ilovemywestie Mon 12-May-14 14:43:05

I love this song its from the musicals "Me and my Girl". I saw it years ago in London with Robert Lindsay in the lead role. They sing "he's been roasting peanuts......"
I had no idea the N word was ever in the lyrics.

RufusTheReindeer Mon 12-May-14 15:02:42

I had no idea, but I only know the first verse

Didn't know about the eenie meanie one either

I'm 44...and apparently verrrrry stupid

PolkadotsAndMoonbeams Mon 12-May-14 20:46:12

Agree about re-claiming (or in some cases, claiming, words). If they have an original non-offensive meaning then they can be used in both senses, for example 'queer' is a much more atmospheric word than strange.

Nigger however, is probably one of the words I'd happily leave to the history books (and songs!). Although I do think it sometimes goes a bit too far - at school I remember seeing the "The Nigger of the Narcissus" in the library, and somebody had crossed out the word and put "The Coloured Gentleman". I actually thought that was worse.

Hulababy Mon 12-May-14 20:52:54

Heard this news over the weekend and no, I had no idea there was an old version using the n word, or it was in any way racist. Neither did the 3 other adults in the house with me.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 12-May-14 22:30:43

Like many others, I wasn't aware there was more than one verse

0blio Tue 13-May-14 20:23:07

what's wrong with god save the queen?

"Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the Queen"

Supposed to be Britain's national anthem hmm

A verse almost nobody knows or sings - much like the sun has got his hat on.

parentalunit Tue 13-May-14 20:36:11

Poor man, what a shame. This. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NAUgCm-3Tc

PolkadotsAndMoonbeams Tue 13-May-14 23:59:50

That's because that verse was restricted to a very small section of its history, before the song became the accepted national anthem if I remember correctly. Besides, there wouldn't be any point in having it in now, would there? He's long dead.

I think there might have been an additional verse from the other side too though.

Caitlin17 Wed 14-May-14 00:33:50

I was wondering when someone would bring up the second verse of God Save the Queen. No-one sings it, no-one knows it, few care.

If you want to criticise God save the Queen then fair enough to say it's a terrible dirge compared to Le Marseillaise or Deutschland über Alles.

TillyTellTale Wed 14-May-14 00:54:03

From top to bottom, in order of nicest to most-accurate-record-of-public-feelings-a-few-centuries ago. grin


It's like Eurovision all over again. France at the bottom, the UK being her mediocre self and placing in the middle, and a German-speaking country winning by a mile. La Marseillaise is terribly graphic!

AdoraBell Wed 14-May-14 01:19:19

I didn't but then I've never heard more than "the sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hip hurray" or maye it's 3 hip's, I don't know.

AdoraBell Wed 14-May-14 01:26:33

Rufus I knew about eanie meanie, but I've always used tiger with my DDs.

Is that acceptable? Serious question, I've been abroad so long I genuinely don't know if alternatives are okay or the entire rhym is considered wrong.

CorusKate Wed 14-May-14 01:53:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CorusKate Wed 14-May-14 02:13:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AdoraBell Wed 14-May-14 03:16:55

I grew up with the original version, and I'm not that old - 46 - and grew up in London. But I am able to separate what kids said when I was young from what I taught my DDs. I've never heard anyone else use that rhym (why can't I spell that tonightconfused ?) here in Chile, so maybe that helps.

TillyTellTale Wed 14-May-14 14:41:04

CorusKate It's okay. The 'original' wording, isn't actually the 'original'. Eenie, Meenie isn't inherently racist. The racist version is believed to have developed in America, and happens to have been popularised in print in the early 20th century. But it is not the 'proper' version.

Just use the version you liked when you were a child, or spend your life trying to research which of the early 19th century versions came first. But don't let the racism of some New York children in the 1888 taint your memories!

Hey, here's a Cornish version from 1882:

Ena, mena, mona, mite,
Bascalora, bora, bite,
Hugga, bucca, bau,
Eggs, butter, cheese, bread.
Stick, stock, stone dead - OUT


CorusKate Wed 14-May-14 14:50:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

vickibee Wed 14-May-14 14:51:46

I watched Dambusters the other week and was shocked to hear the pilot's dog was called the N word. Different times I guess....

CorusKate Wed 14-May-14 14:54:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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