Copyright 2007 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
The best show on television, Dog the Bounty Hunter, has been indefinitely suspended and removed from the air by the A&E network. Duane "Dog" Chapman, the show's charismatic star, proved himself a racist in a recorded phone conversation he had with his son Tucker. The white Dog ordered his son to get rid of his black girlfriend because he did not want any of his children dating blacks and because the family bandied around the word nigger so often when they were off camera that they feared a black person who had access to the family would report their behavior to the news media. Dog's secret would be out and his career would be ruined, so his logic went. You can almost hear the fear verging on paranoia in his voice as you read the following transcript excerpt:
"I'm not gonna take a chance ever in life losing everything I've worked for 30 years 'cause some fucking nigger heard us say 'nigger' and turned us in to the Enquirer magazine. Our career is over. I'm not taking that chance at all. Never in life. Never. Never. If Lisa was dating a nigger we would all say 'fuck you.' And you know that."
Dog issued a public statement following the release of the recording, to wit:
"I did not mean to add yet another slap in the face to an entire race of people who have brought so many gifts to this world. I am ashamed of myself and I pledge to do whatever I can to repair this damage I have caused. My sincerest, heartfelt apologies go out to every person I have offended in my regrettable use of very inappropriate language. I am deeply disappointed in myself for speaking out in anger to my son and using such a hateful term in a private phone conversation. It was completely taken out of context. I was disappointed in his choice of a friend, not due to her race, but her character. However, I have the utmost respect and aloha for black people—who have already suffered so much due to racial discrimination and acts of hatred. I am meeting with my spiritual adviser, Rev. Tim Storey, and hope to meet with other black leaders so they can see who I really am and teach me the right thing to do to make things right, again. I know that all of my fans are deeply disappointed in me, as well, as I have tried to be a model for doing the right thing. I did not do the right thing this time, and hope you will forgive me."
Dog says that it was the woman's character not her color that concerned him. One would hope he now sees that perhaps it was his and his wife Beth's character that concerned Tucker and his girlfriend Monique. It seems they tried other methods of bringing Dog and Beth's behavior to their attention, but were obviously unsuccessful in getting them to take a look at these defects. So they found another way. Dog has started to admit what he did, as well as his responsibility for it. He and Beth and anyone else who engaged in the activity, tried to hide it, and forgot their responsibilities to their family as a result, will need to continue admitting where they were wrong and make public amends to Tucker, Monique, and anyone else who was harmed by their actions. And if Tucker and Monique are holding on to their own dishonesties and have committed wrongs for which they must come up, we hope they do so promptly. But that is not the issue here.
And to those who might consider this position of the Police Gazette hypocritical, it's true that in the past, the Gazette ridiculed interracial couples, joked about lynchings, and was generally something less than the official organ of the NAACP, shall we say. We are not embarrassed about any of it. The items were written in the light-hearted yet calculated-for-shock-value manner for which the Gazette has become famous. In other words, those for whom irony is not their cup of tea, need not trouble themselves with an issue of the National Police Gazette! Sadly, there was no irony—at least not the intentional kind—in anything Dog Chapman said to his son. As for us, times change. Public tastes and perceptions of fairness evolve. Fifty or one hundred years from now there may be items in the current Police Gazette that some future editor, judging the spirit of the times, would never dream of running. And if they are an editor worth their salt, they will adhere to that spirit and not to what has been done before. It might also be noted that the same editor who allowed those stories to run in the past, also published editorials advocating equality and gave fair, distinguished coverage to straight news items such as those covering black boxing champions—not a common position among mass-market publications of that time.
The bottom line is that Dog's way of doing things is passé. It's a throwback to an archaic way. Working-class white people have been regularly using "nigger" as their preferred descriptive for black people for a very long time. They also have traditionally not allowed their children to have blacks as best friends or lovers. Perhaps they had no conscious ill will toward the black race; they simply believed that they had their club to which they belonged, while blacks had their own, and never the twain shall meet. But a few years ago something happened. Those barriers came down. Sixteen years ago I left my current city of residence to engage in formative world travel and enlightenment. At that time, if one spied the rare glimpse of an interracial couple in public, it almost always consisted of a particularly skeevy-looking black man with a significantly overweight white woman. Now, mixed couples are everywhere and their makeup covers every possible combination of gender, race, social class, and hygienic appearance. Plus, in the interest of full disclosure, the current editor and proprietor of the Gazette, yours truly, is a white man whose wife is a lovely black woman—not to mention our Culture Editor. So we both took it personally when we heard the recording. But there is room for hope. We at the Gazette do not assign the "best show on television" imprimatur to just anything, and Duane Chapman has shown himself to have a good heart in other areas. Thus, there is a chance—as yet unproven, but still a chance—that he can here rise to the occasion and truly do the next right thing.
—William A. Mays, 2007
"Were their offenses overlooked crime would become rampant, society rotten, and virtue would be at a premium. It is the fear of public condemnation that keeps many in the straight and narrow path. The electric light of the press holds them in check. If they sin in the dark and their offense is known only to themselves, they continue to pose before society as models of virtue. But on the other hand, if their crime is made known they are punished and society is benefited."
—Richard K. Fox, 1892
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