The Hallmark of a black hole

By Phil Plait | June 14, 2010 11:01 am

Leon Jenkins is the President of the LA chapter of the NAACP, the organization that advocates for equal rights for black people. The work they do is fine by me, and I support their efforts. But organizations are made up of individuals, and individuals can make mistakes.

This is really one of those times. Here’s the story: Hallmark came out with a card for recent graduates, and it’s one of those deals that has a speaker in it that activates when you open it. Like all such cards it’s twee and sugary and over the top. It involves two cartoon characters with squeaky and high-pitched voices talking about how the graduate can now take over the world. It has an outer space theme to it, and what they say, well… watch/listen for yourself:

Um, yeah. It’s pretty clear to just about anyone who hears it — and doesn’t have any particular stake in the claim — that the card is saying “black holes”. The space theme is obvious enough, and black holes are a common topic. So why on Earth would someone think the card is saying “black whores”, as Mr. Jenkins and other LA NAACP members do?

In fact, there’s a good reason. What we have here is a very well-understood topic to skeptics: audio pareidolia. That is, mishearing recorded phrases or words, and thinking they are saying something else. This phenomenon is really strong, and once you think a recording is saying a certain phrase, it’s difficult to not hear it. So once someone thought the Hallmark card was saying “black hos”, they told other people, and that biased them into hearing it as well. I’ve written about this before; go here and here for great (and very funny) examples of this.

So it’s understandable that Mr. Jenkins might hear that… but then his own biases kick in. He looks at the card and finds pretty dubious evidence to support his claims; like saying that the word “ominous” means “evil” and therefore cannot be used for inanimate objects. In reality, ominous means foreboding or menacing like an omen, so of course it can be used for events or objects. Like many people do when making a claim, Jenkins is finding evidence after the fact that simply isn’t there.

Because honestly, when you think about it: Hallmark? Putting out a card that uses a racial slur? Hallmark’s products are the least offensive, blandest I can think of. They’re the lettuce-and-lite-no-transfat-mayo-on-white-bread sandwich of greeting cards.

But that doesn’t really make much of a difference to someone once their mind is made up. Note that Jenkins also says, “If reasonable people can listen to this and interpret it the way I did, you can pull [the card off the shelves].” That’s wrong, and in fact somewhat dangerous thinking; just because a lot of people think something is true doesn’t make it true.

Still, caving to this pressure, Hallmark pulled the card.

That’s too bad. The company took a financial and PR hit because of the customers’ misunderstanding, and that’s a bad precedent.This just reinforces the overall problem of people making decisions in their lives based on bad evidence or the misinterpretation of good evidence. How many ills of this world would disappear if we could make that go away?

Also, and more importantly, when anyone accuses someone else of racism when it’s not there, it hurts the overall cause. Given the press this has received, it’s the LA NAACP’s credibility that has taken a hit, not Hallmark’s. Crying wolf diminishes the NAACP’s work, and will make it harder for them to fight real racism the next time it pops up.

And that, to me, is uncritical thinking’s biggest danger. Not that people actively believe in things that are wrong — that’s here to stay — but that it masks the truth and prevents people from seeing it.

Tip o’ the mortar board to Fark.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pareidolia, Skepticism

Comments (135)

  1. I should go out and see if I can buy one of these cards before they disappear…
    Oh well, I’m busy typing the transcript for my newest 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast…

  2. Speaker2a

    The card has been out for several years as well and Hallmark has never received a complaint.

  3. Carl Matherly

    *headdesk*

    Obviously Cosmology is racist and should no longer be studied.

    (And, I echo Phil’s sentiment that this was a frak-up commmited by individuals and has no bearing on the larger group)

  4. IVAN3MAN AT LARGE

    In July 2008, there was a similar misunderstanding over the term “black hole”, as reported in The Dallas Morning News: “Dallas County officials spar over ‘black hole’ comment”. :roll:

  5. Ken P

    Hopefully Hallmark never releases a card mentioning ‘white dwarfs’…

  6. Kaptain K

    This reminds me of a similar situation a couple of years ago.
    A Dallas county official called the county’s finance department a “black hole” in the sense that it was a bottomless money pit. Another county official took it as a racial slur. It ended up with the first having to publically appologise to the second for using the term correctly!

  7. Cowboy Dan

    hahaha what?? They seriously think that a HALLMARK card is telling black whores to watch their back? That’s the silliest thing I’ve heard in awhile. I can’t believe they actually pulled the card off the shelves because of a few old people who can’t hear very well.

  8. Chris

    How will racism ever go away if people keep looking for it around every possible corner?

  9. DreamDevil

    Hmm… I feel like being offended today. Where shall I start looking?

  10. Sparky

    Well, I guess that the good news is that the NAACP has decided that there is no longer any actual racism left in America, and now has to imagine up their own.

  11. David C

    “mayo-on-white”? Is that a racist statement? What do you have against rye? Or pumpernickel?

  12. Blondin

    Reminds me of the “niggardly” incident in Washington in 1999. That was not a case of pareidolia but simply a deficient vocabulary. Similar outcome, though.

  13. Cobey Cobb

    LMAO at Ken P!

  14. Luis

    Actually, there exists free but nonetheless highly sophisticated software that can determine beyond any doubt whether the word in question is “holes” or “whores” (note to the lady at around 1:04 — the “r” sound is not the only difference between the two words; the vowels are also different. Specifically, “holes” doesn’t have a vowel, it has a diphthong). I have used this software on occasion, and I can tell that the entire process wouldn’t take more than two minutes.

    But then, if the NAACP are so convinced that the card says “whores”, I’m not sure they are going to allow these puny linguists and their expertise on speech processing to change their minds.

  15. Plutonian

    Oh for pity’s sake!!! :roll:

    I suppose that if using the term “black hole” is somehow offensive to African-Americans* then using the terms ‘red dwarf’ (anti-Amerindian /native Americans?) & brown dwarf (anti-Indian-Indians & other non-whites/blacks or yellows) will be soon also taken as somehow racist as well? :roll:

    I suppose even saying “blue dwarf” will be taken as against those Avatar navii people and thus seen as a vile slander someday if this PC baloney keeps rolling on unimpeded. Sheesh!

    Note to the PC mob :

    Sometimes a reference to colour is just a reference to colour (or temperature or optical invisibility, etc ..) & NOT a coded reference to race /ethnicity.

    I know there’s a sad history and I know racism is an ugly, warped, horrible thing but for pity’s sake :

    ENOUGH!!!

    ITS A FLIPPIN’ CARD ABOUT GRADUATING!! GET OVER IT!

    What part of that idea don’t these people get?

    Can they ever see anything, anything at all and just accept that, NO it is NOT about *them*. :-(

    That any slight they percieve is strictly in their own heads and no-one elses?

    Also that there is no such thing as a right to NOT be offended and to to go around telling everybody that they dare not whisper a word that may or may not offend somebody.

    Because, lets face it, with enough imagination, anything that anybody says can be spun or imagined as being somehow offensive to somebody.

    Free speech – use it (loudly & crudely & un-PC-ly if need be) or lose it.

    Abolish Political Correctness now!
    ________________

    * Or can we not just say everyone is ‘American’ as in “American American” or even just plain human yet? :roll:

  16. I play World of Warcraft. They have non-combat pets in the game that you can have out accompanying your character. Quite a few years ago, there was one called the ‘Maine Coon’ which is, as you likely know, a breed of cat (known for their large size, intelligence, and their gentle nature.)

    Some people on the forum said that it was a racial slur. Despite knowing it was a breed of feline, Blizzard pulled the pet and renamed it ‘brown tabby.’ Since that moment, people have been testing Blizzard to see how far they can go. Anything that can possibly be considered offensive, no matter how tame is complained about. Someone complained about the ability titled “every man for himself” as being sexist. People call out well drawn art as being offensive.

    It sets a precedent and once one person is able to force the issue, the flood won’t stop. Be ready to see more cases of this occurring.

  17. The NAACP has a black eye on this one.

  18. Plutonian

    @12. David C Says:

    “mayo-on-white”? Is that a racist statement? What do you have against rye? Or pumpernickel?

    Next time someone asks me if I want white bread or white coffee I’m taking offense & calling my lawyers and the anti-racism leagues! ;-)

    Clearly there is no more real racism left anywhere at all if this is what passes for hate speech these days.

    Time to wind up and disband the racist, sorry, anti-racist groups responsible for this and similar PC nonsense everywhere. Not only is there job done meaning they have no need to exist anymore they have gone well beyond the reasonable bounds of their purpose and become actively counter-productive. :-(

    If they really need something to do – as is clear from this example of their rubbish – then they can go across to the Middle East and take on the huge amount of anti-Semitism (Judeaophobia) spewing out of just about every Islamic nation on the planet. That should keep them going on serious genuine racism for long enough. :-(

  19. TimRuss

    Even if you make it clear they’re saying black hole, some people will still be angry about it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc1zGRUPztc

  20. Jon

    @Kaptain K (#6)

    That reminds me of the David Howard incident, who had to resign after properly using the word “niggardly” in reference to a budget.

  21. @Plutonian,

    No, the term “blue dwarf” is racist against Smurfs. You don’t want to make the Smurf lobby angry or they’ll smurf you up.

  22. when anyone accuses someone else of racism when it’s not there, it hurts the overall cause. Given the press this has received, it’s the LA NAACP’s credibility that has taken a hit, not Hallmark’s. Crying wolf diminishes the NAACP’s work, and will make it harder for them to fight real racism the next time it pops up.

    There is still so much racism out there and when energy and public awareness is mis-spent, I worry that those battles that need to be fought will be lost.

    It is too bad that they made this an issue. Although, you cannot blame Hallmark. It would be far worse from Hallmark’s POV to ignore their position. I think the leadership of NAACP needs to reconsider their priorities.

    Anyone who thinks racism is dead just needs to go out and read comments on sites that don’t moderate comments. It is a terrifying journey into hatred, ignorance and disturbing behavior.

  23. Wasn’t there a post here some time back about the “racial” remark about some project being a “black hole” of finances?

  24. There is still so much racism out there and when energy and public awareness is mis-spent, I worry that those battles that need to be fought will be lost.

    Yup. Ditto with other advocacy groups, too.

    Similar parting of ways occurred between me and the Sierra Club. Great organization. Great work. But after a while I was so fed up with being bombarded by the constant “crises” and overblown hyperbole, I had to call it quits. Doesn’t mean I don’t support their goals, but sometimes you’ve got to sit back, take a deep breath, and really think about what you’re getting ready to throw a tantrum about.

    Oh, unless it’s UFO nuts. They’re fair game anytime.

  25. Bubba

    Hallmark caved in. That’s much worse than Jenkins’ pareidolia. I mean paraNOIA.

  26. Charlie Young

    Hey, Luis (#15)! Who you callin’ a diphthong? Kidding, of course.

  27. Dave

    Morons. Creating racism where none exists.

  28. Mike

    Thirty odd years ago, as an enthusiastic young Amateur Astronomer, I had a bumper sticker on the back of my car that read “Black holes are out of sight!” with the logo for the local amateur club under it.

    My mother, a social worker at the time, was going to borrow my car one day but had me cover up the sticker. Why? Because she was, legitimately I think, worried that someone in one of the neighborhoods she had to go into would be offended. “There’s always someone who’ll get upset, no matter how innocuous it is.”

    Seems like Hallmark’s run into the same thing.

    There’s people in the world who just seem to need to have something to be offended about. And that “people” is generic there. Race, religion, gender, whatever, not withstanding.

    -M

  29. JohnK

    I suggest that the NAACP listen to some rap music which is filled which all kinds of offensive words before passing judgement on Hallmark.

  30. Big Fat Earl

    If anything, this only provides more evidence that racism is dead and the extortionists at the NAACP and ACLU need to be put out of business.

  31. Not Timmy

    I am afraid to say anything against the NAACP because then someone might acuse me of being racist. Luckily they do not have any personal agendas like getting their names on TV.

    Remember using “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” to pick teams and decide which popsicle to pick? Two women sued an airline for an attendant saying “Eenie, meenie, miney, moe. Pick a seat, we gotta go!” In 34 years I never for a moment thought it was racist, even though I knew tigers don’t have toes. I seriously never made the connection. For me there were absolutely no racist undertones at all, UNTIL those ladies sued and explained it to everyone. Isn’t that the EXACT OPPOSITE of what we should be doing?

  32. @17, it’s funny you say that. I play WoW too. We had a girl in our guild (RL friends of friends). Her character name was an obvious reference to that breed of cat; Maine Coon. I didn’t know the pet was renamed though. They’re cracking down big time on character names and team names. Her name might be at risk for being changed, if she still played.

    Anyhow, back on topic. I think most rational people can see the space themed card and deduce that they were talking about black HOLES. You know, the cartoony voices sometimes have speech nuances to make them sound more child-like. If I asked my children to say ‘black hole’ it might very well come out sounding wrong. The thing is, again, the theme of the card resounds with SPACE.

    The persons claiming it says otherwise are just hearing what they want to hear.

  33. Contributing to the audio “pareidolia” here is the fact that the ‘r’ and ‘l’ phonemes heard in ‘whore’ and ‘hole’, respectively, are actually part of a continuum of sounds. While r and l sound radically different to us native English speakers, it is only that way because we are so well-practiced at making the distinction. However, Japanese speakers who learn English later in life will tell you the difference between the l and r seem slight and are difficult to distinguish. In a noisy environment and/or given a low-resolution recording such as with the greeting card, the distinction between the r and l can be harder to make, even (apparently) for some native English speakers.

    Still, I think the NAACP come off poorly in this. They ignore context with is rich with information speaking against their hypothesis that the card is racist: 1) Hallmark probably wants to sell as many products as possible. Insulting an entire race is not what they would do on purpose to achieve those ends. 2) The word ‘planets’ is in the recording; you know, space…black holes…etc. What do planets and whores have to do with each other? etc.

  34. joe

    And while we’re at it; There is too much violin’s on TV.

  35. Bruce

    You can barely understand what those cards are saying, the voices are so high pitched and sped up. You would think the news crew would record the audio, slow it down and drop the pitch and then play it back and ask them to listen to it again and show them that it is actually “Black Holes” is what is being said. What a simple fix for Halmark, but I guess it’s easier to just cave in and waste tons of money on a recall.

  36. Coscro

    one of the dumbest non-stories in a long while. As a black man I find the NAACP and many formerly important groups offensive now a days. The need new and younger leadership.

  37. Jason

    There is actual, bonafide racism in our society. The NAACP burns their credibility when they make a stink over things like this, credibility they should be saving to confront the actual racism. The next time the NAACP raises a legitimate issue they will be facing “the boy that cried wolf” syndrome. Oh crap, I just used the term “boy” in a legitimate context. I bet I am a racist now.

  38. Bob

    Won’t somebody think of the children???

    Concur that the NAACP should crack down on the RAP MUSIC first, before confusing “BLACK HOLES” with “BLACK WHORES” in a “space themed” card.

    anyway “All your card are belong to us”

  39. Azam Khalid

    Wow! I would probably like to see someone pressure Hallmark in to putting the card back on the shelves just to teach the NAACP a lesson.

  40. Ad Hominid

    I’m with you, Coscro.

    One of my pet facepalm peeves is the increasing tendency for various folk to treat the term “Mexican” as a slur.

    I am not a Mexican, I am an American whose ancestors were Mexicans; but Mexico itself is not a disease, a street gang, or a bad neighborhood and its demonym, “Mexican,” is not a slur. Mexico is a country, a nation state, with its own constitution, laws, history and culture. There is a Mexican congress, a Mexican navy, a Mexican national anthem, Mexican cuisine and costume and so on. Its people are “Mexicans.”

    There is no Chicano or Latino embassy in Washington. There is, however, a Mexican embassy.

  41. AJ

    @ 32. Not Timmy:

    Um… sorry, I’m confused. What is (according to the women who sued) apparently racist about “eenie, meenie, miney, moe”? That’s confusing me too.

    Anyway… this black holes thing is stupid. I think Hallmark should have stuck to their guns, to be honest. Withdrawing the card just makes them look guilty.

  42. Michael Swanson

    Right. Look out “Saturn.” We’re taking over the “solar system.” You “planets” better watch your back. The “universe” is ours. Watch out “black whores.” Yep. Once you see it in context, it’s obvious that it’s a racist attack in a greeting card!

  43. Chris

    A rap video has been pulled from store shelves after a civil rights group claims some of the lyrics are racist.

    Haven’t heard that one. Seriously, big news conference pulling something that isn’t even wrong, while nearly every piece of rap music says things that I can’t even repeat here, they leave alone. Please save us Neil deGrasse Tyson!

  44. Jeffersonian

    Mondegreens!
    One of my favorite and oft-studied subjects.
    (But since I’ve probably posted at length already, I’ll spare everybody.)
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondegreen
    —————————-
    @kuhnigget
    I had the same problem with Sierra Club. They haven’t a clue when it comes to picking their battles. “Frank Chubnik in Tick Gut, Arkansas cut a branch from his backyard tree. We want everybody to send the following letters to the following congressman. Tell them them it’s the end of the world as we know it.”
    —————————-
    Never demonize words. Ever.

  45. Shoeshine Boy

    Attention Hole?

  46. Bill Bones

    Some American people are really fortunate to be able to spend their time and mental energy in such idiotic stuff rather than on anything resembling to earn themselves a living. Really.

  47. Old Rockin' Dave

    The whole thing reminds me of Emily Litella wondering what all the fuss was over Soviet jewelry, except no one at the NAACP is going to say, “Oh, never mind!”

  48. Jesse Lee Scruggs

    An e-mail address for this Bozo at NAACP would be nice. I can’t seem to locate one, and the nanny filters here at work won’t let me onto the NAACP web site to look there. I would think a couple of hundred e-mails explaining his error, using small words so as not to confuse him, would go a long way to at least pissing him off. And maybe even educating the racist scum.

    JLS

  49. Jess Tauber

    When I was a kid my Mom wouldn’t let us see the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang because as far as she was concerned the TV ad for the movie kept saying the Sh- version of the first two terms. No amount of negotiation would move her from her absolute conviction. She was a well-read person, but never heard of the book (nor had we).

    I’ve seen the movie a number of times over the ensuing decades- I have to admit that Dick Van Dyke is the epitome of evil, and the two little trolls who played the kids were very disturbing. Somehow my Mom was able to divine this by osmosis.

  50. Ad Hominid

    @48, Jess

    You will know this, but others may not. The author of the Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang book was none other than Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.

    This was based, in turn, on a real car, originally a 1912 Mercedes touring car whose inventive (if imprudent) owner, a Count Zoborowski, replaced the original engine with a 23 liter Maybach Zeppelin engine after World War I.
    It couldn’t actually fly or do other magical stuff, but it won a couple of races in 1921 and was clocked at 120 mph, which was a lot in the days before seatbelts, roll bars, or even front-wheel brakes.

  51. AJ (#40):

    What is (according to the women who sued) apparently racist about “eenie, meenie, miney, moe”?

    Apparently, the original version didn’t use “tiger”, but a word which replaces the initial “t” with an “n”, and doubles the “g”. I had never heard of that before the suit.

    So, apparently, even taking a racial slur, and replacing it with something non-racial, still qualifies as “racial”. At least in their mind.

  52. Marcus

    On “eenie, meenie”: apparently there was a time when the most common version of this song used the N word rather than the current version that uses “tiger”: while my reading of the airline lawsuit case:

    http://ca10.washburnlaw.edu/cases/2005/08/04-3109.htm

    leads me to believe that the women involved were just trying to scam the airline, there is a legitimate question here: when is it appropriate to retire a saying? I think most people would agree that using the N word (or equivalent words used to denigrate Jewish, Hispanic, Native American, or other historically oppressed groups) is very often inappropriate. This is true EVEN IF the speaker had no racist association, as long as there is a majority or sizeable minority who do see that undertone (I know of a number of spanish speakers who use the N-word by mistake because of its similarity to the word “negro” which is the spanish term: just because they use it innocently doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be corrected).

    So, the question: has “eenie meenie” been sanitized because we all grew up with it as an innocent saying (much like “ring around the rosie” is rarely connected with the Black Death)? Maybe this is a parallel question to the issues of “In God We Trust” on dollar bills and “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, where decades of use makes these phrases innocuous? My inclination is to say, “yes, it is now an innocent nursery rhyme”, but… what if there are still significant pockets of people who do use it maliciously because of the older connotations?

    (and to those people who think that this episode demonstrates that racism is dead: No, it just demonstrates that stupidity is not dead. Trust me, there is plenty of racism of both the subtle and overt variety still floating around if you are in the right circles, which, fortunately, I mostly avoid but occasionally interact with)

  53. bruce

    Talk about BAD ASS-Tronomy

  54. jcm

    Listening to Illusions of Sound

    Michael Shermer on strange beliefs:

    That’s why critical thinking is so important.

  55. Ad Hominid

    Hallmark should have stood its ground. The “L” is “black holes” is completely obvious, as is the astronomical context. Hallmark, frankly, has a good case for defamation.

    Btw, it’s wrong to attribute this foolish power-play to the NAACP in general or even to the Los Angeles chapter. This is a small group of people who happen to be members of the LA chapter. They do not speak for anyone but themselves. The national office has had nothing to say about this kerffufle.

  56. Aaron

    On the topic of audio pareidolia, all that I can say is that there’s a bathroom on the right:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BmEGm-mraE

  57. Mark T.

    It must be a very fine world we live in these days. If this is what the NAACP is doing to occupy it’s time then things must be great!

    Reminds me of when my mom told me she thought the Beatles were singing ‘paint the black whiter’ on their Paperback Writer single.

  58. Jess Tauber

    There are undoubtedly people who avoid all yardwork because they don’t want to be in a position where they might be seen with a hoe.

  59. Jefferson

    I used to think Stewie’s line in the Family Guy theme song (towards the end), was “Effin cry”. Alas, it’s “Laugh and cry”. lol

  60. Steve

    Errm, is this the kind of stuff middle class white folks get all aereated about?

    Seems to me that “black hole” and “black ho” are homonyms in many US dialects of English and the latter is clearly offensive (yes, and record company executives get rich selling this same racist crap to, in the main, white middle-class youth who think its cool). Once out of the confines of middle class America the nuances of language can indeed be a problem. Speech has a shared social context the still unresolved “race” inequalities in the US are the elephant in the room.

    It maybe that scientific language will eventually change because of the potential for offense. That is, after all, the reason why rabbits are usually called “rabbits” and not “coneys”. The latter phrase was a homonym for the diminutive anglo-saxon “cunnie” (vagina) and nobody is outraged that coney has largely falled out of use.

  61. Neil

    Big Fat Earl:

    “If anything, this only provides more evidence that racism is dead and the extortionists at the NAACP and ACLU need to be put out of business.”

    Troll much, moron?

  62. Erica

    seriously, does the NAACP have so little important work to do that they need to go after dubious-at-best claims of a greeting card? not to mention, no one got worked up over past audio card that did horrible french accents and used “oui oui” as a pee joke. come on guys, really.

  63. Rob Sidio

    Audio pareidolia my kester. It is blatant publicity mongering. What a way to get the LA NAACP some name recognition! Disgusting!

  64. 53. Ken B Says: “…apparently, even taking a racial slur, and replacing it with something non-racial, still qualifies as “racial”. At least in their mind.”

    And even if they didn’t ge to that part of the chant.

  65. pjb

    First, listen to Yellow Ledbetter misheard lyrics on Youtube several times: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLd22ha_-VU
    Then, find yourself singing the misheard lyrics every time the song comes on the radio.
    Honestly, I have no desire to learn the actual lyrics.

  66. Kash

    I, for one, welcome our black whore overlords.

  67. AliCali

    @ 60 (Jefferson): I used to think Stewie’s line in the Family Guy theme song (towards the end), was “Effin cry”. Alas, it’s “Laugh and cry”. lol

    WHAT? I really thought that’s what he said. That’s so in context with Stewie, and such a contrast to the rest of the song’s message, that it seemed perfect.

    After an online search, you seem to be correct. Nuts.

  68. 57. Mark T. Says: “Reminds me of when my mom told me she thought the Beatles were singing ‘paint the black whiter’ on their Paperback Writer single.”

    Don’t forget the CCR song, “There’s a Bathroom on the Right” and the one from Chicago, “Pepsi Cola” (Fancy Colors).

    - Jack

  69. 64. AliCali Says: “WHAT? I really thought that’s what he said. That’s so in context with Stewie, and such a contrast to the rest of the song’s message, that it seemed perfect.”

    In Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” I always thought he was singing “What I love is making music with my breath” and thought it was a brilliant metaphor for singing. When I later (much later) found out he was saying “…making music with my friends” I was devastated.

    - Jack

  70. Brian Too

    @56. Ad Hominid,

    While I get what you’re saying, I must disagree with your statement. These individuals are doing this explicitly in the name of the NAACP, which brings the organization into it whether the larger organization wants that connection or not. If the NAACP as a matter of policy decides that these actions are wrong and those members are out of line, they bear the sole responsibility to say so.

    Also, these are not just some fly-by-night members who only show up on free beer night. There is at least one highly placed executive member among the complainants, as in “Leon Jenkins is the President of the LA chapter of the NAACP…”. That makes the situation all the worse for the reputation of the NAACP as it DOES imply that the entire LA chapter, as an organization, is behind this statement.

    If the NAACP wishes to correct this, the path is clear (if possibly painful). Issue a press release repudiating this action. Or, if they want to go further, require Mr. Jenkins to issue a retraction and apology. To show they really mean business, a terse announcement to the effect that “… Mr. Jenkins has been removed as President of the LA chapter of the NAACP effective immediately…” would certainly qualify!

    It’s not for me to tell the NAACP what to do. However they ought to remember that their reputation is the most valuable currency they have. Once lost, it cannot easily be restored.

  71. Josie

    Wow how perverted can they be thinking that ‘black hole’ is a pejorative for black women –oh wait they thought it said black *whore*…now look what the NAACP has made me think of >.<

    I think we should all send these people (… wow is that racist too?) the link to the South Park episode in which Chef tries to change the 'racist' flag.

    edit: http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/152149
    "Chef goes Nanners"

    /sigh

    As for songs…remember they had to change "Paint it, Black" because of the comma?

  72. Dr. Morbius

    What’s all this talk I keep hearing about endangered feces? Who would want to save such a thing?

  73. Adrian Lopez

    As if the NAACP’s misinterpretation of the greeting card wasn’t disappointing enough, reading the comments on YouTube is doubly disappointing. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the idiocy so often exhibited in YouTube comments, but in doing this the NAACP has given ammunition to those who wish to portray the organization as a bunch who only ever complain about nothing important.

    I think the NAACP needs to swallow its pride on this one and admit its mistake in order to preserve its integrity.

  74. Muzz

    The Australian KFC ad was worse in some respects, mostly because it involved pulling a completely innoffensive advert from another country because some African Americans applied their own context to it over the internet (although I think it was Fox news who whipped it up initially, which is supremely ironic). I don’t think the NAACP had anything to do with that one though.

  75. Messier Tidy Upper

    Here in Australia there is a long and proud tradition of calling a spade a shovel & being Politically Incorrect. Making jokes (Jokes mind you nothing serious!) is part of our culture and *we* take offense at all those ridiculous nutters who take offence at such stupidities. :-(

    Such craven nonsense as Hallmark pulling the card just because of some hypersenstive political lobby that imagines something ridiculous is there when it clearly is NOT; that would just *never* happen here it’d be rightly made a laughing stock and …

    (Reads #77 Muzz, remembers that case and a few others.)

    *Facepalm.*

    Yikes! Its everywhere. Even in Oz. Its spreading. The cliche is true : “Political Correctness has indeed gone mad.” (If it was ever sane to begin with which is a dubious notion.)

    What is the world coming to?

    What is wrong with some people!?

    Yes, sadly, there is real rascism in the the world still – plenty of it. :-(

    Sadly, almost unbelievably considering what happened last time it was in fashion, Anti-Semitism or Judaeophobia is making a comeback – usually disguised as “acceptable” or “political” anti-Israeli “Anti-Zionist” sentiment. Just look at the comments of Helen Thomas :

    when asked to comment on Israel during the White House Jewish Heritage Celebration on 27 May 2010, she said, “Tell them [the Jews] to get the hell out of Palestine… Remember these people are occupied … and it’s their land…. They [the Jews] should go home – Poland … Germany.”

    Look at how Turkish militants trying to support the Hamas terrorist group and catch Israel in a PR trap who taunted the Israeli boats that intercepted their hate flotilla to Gaza with calls over the radio for the Israelis to [Quote] “go back to Auschwitz” [Unquote] as reported in the media.

    Those are two clear and unsubtle cases of modern racism at it’s worst.

    That’s the sort of thing the NAACP and other enemies of hatred need to be fighting and what they should be spending their time and energy on.

    NOT this clearly ridiculous misunderstanding of a astronomy themed card that is blindingly obviously NOT racist in any way shape or form whatsoever.

    (Oh wait, are we still allowed to say “blindingly obvious” or is that going to be seen as some ludicrous slur against the “visually impaired?” Yeesh. :roll: )

  76. Messier Tidy Upper

    Sorry I meant ‘visually challenged’ not visually impaired – of course, not being able to see is a “challenge” and not y’know something that could be taken as an impairment for people. Oh dear, it’s off to the South Park style “death camp of tolerance” for me. :roll:

    Excuse me loony lefties but can we have our language back now please?

    Also please note that changing what you call something does NOT change what that something is.

    Time to abandon being PC – which is essentially a form of being dishonest – and embrace the radical concept of being honest and calling things what they are then dealing or coping with them honestly too methinks.

  77. Levi in NY

    Audio pareidolia at its greatest! It’s a Tamil song with funny “English” subtitles that sound like what they’re singing. I can’t not hear this as an English song now. Due to the nature of audio pareidolia, it’s only NSFW if your co-workers can read the subtitles or have seen the video before.

  78. doofus

    What about the anti-semitism? It clearly states, “and jew planets, watch your back”.

  79. OK, you made me do this! It’s all your fault, NAACP!
    Enjoy!

    I went to YouTube and did a search with these terms:
    misheard lyrics funny church
    because I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it.
    There are other examples, but this is IMHO the best one out there.

  80. Bruce

    “…just because a lot of people think something is true doesn’t make it true.”

    Keep that in mind the next time you’re flapping your lips about Global Warming.

  81. ndt

    Non-Believer Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    It is too bad that they made this an issue. Although, you cannot blame Hallmark.

    We certainly can and I think we should. Pandering to the easily offended just encourages them.

  82. ndt

    63. Steve Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Errm, is this the kind of stuff middle class white folks get all aereated about?

    Seems to me that “black hole” and “black ho” are homonyms in many US dialects of English and the latter is clearly offensive (yes, and record company executives get rich selling this same racist crap to, in the main, white middle-class youth who think its cool). Once out of the confines of middle class America the nuances of language can indeed be a problem.

    Why, because only middle class Americans are capable of detecting nuances? What a patronizing load of crap. The card is clearly about celestial bodies, and black holes are one of the most well-known kind of celestial body in popular culture. The context of the card removes any ambiguity that might have been in the audio alone, and you don’t need the benefit of generations of educational privilege to get it.

    Your post is more insulting to black Americans than anything Hallmark could ever put on a greeting card.

  83. ndt

    Just look at the comments of Helen Thomas :

    when asked to comment on Israel during the White House Jewish Heritage Celebration on 27 May 2010, she said, “Tell them … to get the hell out of Palestine… Remember these people are occupied … and it’s their land…. They … should go home – Poland … Germany.

    There is nothing the least bit anti-Semitic about that statement, especially when you remove the bracketed words that Thomas didn’t say.

  84. ndt

    I’m flabbergasted how few people know the original text of “Eenie, meenie, miney, moe”. Forgetting our racist past is not an effective way to overcome racism.

  85. ndt

    57. Ad Hominid Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Btw, it’s wrong to attribute this foolish power-play to the NAACP in general or even to the Los Angeles chapter. This is a small group of people who happen to be members of the LA chapter. They do not speak for anyone but themselves. The national office has had nothing to say about this kerffufle.

    The fact that they’ve had nothing to say is the problem.

  86. Political Correctness Re-Education Officer

    You should not be using the term Black holes anyway, because it is using a racial word in a negative context

    You are instructed to refer to this astronomical anomaly in another matter

    You will be politically Correct or you will be Re-Educated
    Political Correctness Re-Education Officer

  87. Sticks

    Sorry, could not resist that little sock there, but that is what we have got to.

    I found myself wondering if I would get into trouble for saying “Setting the Record Straight”, by being accused of being homophobic.

    Maybe we should be putting a non-discript colour tape over our mouths

    Edit – My illustrative sock seems to have vanished, is this the fate of all missing socks?

  88. #78 said

    I think that a child in Gaza – starving to death because of the Israeli blockade – might, with some justification, think that there are worse ways forms racism than name calling.

  89. JB of Brisbane

    Am I the only one who thought that Mick Hucknell, in the Simply Red song “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, sang the lyrics -

    “‘Cos we only have black children
    When we argue, fuss and fight…” ?

    (Correct line: “‘Cos we only act like children…”).

  90. Oliver

    May I suggest a totally different interpretation of that fuzz “created” by that NAACP person:

    Look at me, I am an attention WHORE!!

    Just saying :-)

  91. About 20 years there was an uproar in DC when a mayoral aid, while talking about the city’s budget, used the word ‘niggardly.’ He was forced to resign, which then caused a second uproar over people who have no grasp of the English language.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22#David_Howard_incident

  92. (Warning: Epic long text of follows, full of a laymans (or amateurs) psychological analysis…)

    I agree that as an isolated case, this entiry story might seem like nothing but a very stupid and irrational chain of events.

    However, I think it actually is quite logical things like these happen and that one of the main contributing factors is current and past problems with racism (and very serious such problems).

    Imagine any kind of situation when a group a people are under a serious threat of some kind and they need to somehow manage that situation (be it by fighting and eliminating the threat, increasing their own resistance against the threat or both). Be it
    * soldiers on hostile grounds being harrassed by enemy snipers, boobytraps or suicide attackers
    * black people being discriminated by a racist society
    * women being discriminated by a sexist society
    * civilians being harrased (or even killed) by foreign soldiers who occupy their country
    * civilians being harrased (or killed) by their own goverment
    etc.

    The threatened group have to spend a lot of effort and energy to handle the situation at hand, be it by fighting back or just trying to endure it and they will develop a certain vigelance on detecting the threat in whatever forms it manifests itself and, if possible, try to counter it (by “offensive” actions like taking out a suspected sniper/boobytrap or actively countering a discriminatory message from somewhere etc or by “defensive” actions like trying civilians trying to avoid/flee from harrassing forces etc)

    This vigelance might easily lead to a certain “hypersensitivity” regarding detecting the threats. Actually, that hypersensitivity might even be unavoidable (the alternative being to remain passive to the threat which often is not an option). This hypersensitivity might manifest itself as a paranoid thinking in the threatened group. As a logical consequence (but NOT an excuse, carefully note that), people in the threated group will have a greater tendency for seeing threats where there really aren’t any.

    That is an awkward situation. It causes soldiers to shoot innocent unarmed civilians because they honestly misunderstand the situation and really think the civilians were armed and was conducting an actual assault. Or cause soldiers to systematically preemptively kill everyone who ‘might’ be a threat, which result in a number of real enemies to be killed but also more or less automatically means innocent civilians are slain too.

    In a reversed point of view is also true, harrassed civilians will probably regard every soldier from the ‘harrassing force’ as a potential harrasser, even if only a small number of soldiers actually carry out any oppressive action and the majority of the soldiers are treating the civilians correctly and fairly. In that situation, EVERY move or action from the ‘harrassing force’ might be regarded as a threat against the civilians, even in cases when it really isn’t.

    Of course, the hypersensitivity (paranoia) can also be abused by some to get the threatened group to overreact in some desired direction. Motives for such abuse can be political, economical, etc or it can just be that someone is bored and enjoys the (potentially destructive) reactions (and counter reactions).

    Ok. Enough amateur psychological analysis on my behalf…

    So don’t overinterpret this Hallmark greeting card story as something that means that fight agains racism is not justified anymore (or that NCAAP should not be the ones conducting it). It is true that NCAAPs complaints and Hallmarks withdrawal of the card from the shelves might seem like a quite depressing and partly paradoxal chain of events, but follow the chain of events a bit further back and we will find that one of the contributors to this situation (one of the major one) is the racism and fight against racism that has gone on for a long time in the US and in the rest of the world.

    Given that larger historical context, NCAAPs and Hallmarks mistakes (and I regard them as mistakes) in this affair becomes slightly less irrational and destructive and more understandable. But I agree, it is regrettable affairs like this occur and one still have discuss them, point out where the wrong conclusions are made and try to talk involved parties to back their common senses.

    (The latter might be a difficult option in a situation involving armed forces, I realize. However, I have in my personal life quite recently seen this sort of overreaction from a group of individuals who considered themselves in general being threatened/questioned. Approaching those to address certain actual problems they had were quite challenging, because I and others approaching were ‘counterattacked’ as if we were part of the old, ongoing ‘threat’.)

  93. jick

    [Quote] “go back to Auschwitz” [Unquote]

    Wow, clearly, what a horrible act of racism, such as not seen in civilized countries!

    Why can’t these Turkish jerks just board an Israeli ship by force and randomly open fire? I mean, that’s the honest way real people defend their country, which is by the way not a bit racist.

  94. Grand Lunar

    Such a crazy situation.

    Well, they could always re-release the card, but replace “black holes” with “neutron stars”.
    Just as scary, and more difficult to misinterpret.

  95. ND

    good lord. I won’t be able to say “black hole” without thinking about this. So ridiculous.

  96. Larry

    I swear I heard it say “Paul is dead.”

  97. Pi-needles

    The thing I really don’t get here is why when the person *first* took this to the NAACP somebody sensible there didn’t just calmly and respectfully explain that:

    “Sorry but we can’t take this up. This specific card is just not racist and does not actually have anything to do with race at all. It’s not saying what you *think* it is saying and is just talking about astronomy in a funny voice. ”

    And then politely decline to let the NAACP take this case any further because surely *somebody* there knew that doing so would just make them look very silly. :-(

  98. blogolicious

    It just makes the people at NAACP look ignorant, illiterate, and clownish. The very stereotypes so prevalent in the media that African Americans fought so long to counter. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Yikes!

  99. RobT

    Reminds me of the time, while playing cards, that a friend took offense to my saying “don’t be a reneger”. I was, of course, referring to purposefully playing a wrong card to show your partner what is in your hand. They, of course, thought I was saying a racial slur. Now, I may not always have the clearest pronunciation but when taken in context, during the act of playing a card game, it should be obvious what I was saying.

    It has gotten to the point where people are entirely too sensitive about language, reading offenses into it for want, fear, or in this case, publicity.

    The only way someone could seriously believe the card was saying “black whores” is because that person uses, or hears, that term more often than what the card actually said, “black holes”.

  100. Russell

    I gotta chime in on this one. I work in that industry and I can tell you what has happened here (IMHO).

    These cards have tiny little micro chips and really-really-really cheap micro size speakers so the sound can get distorted and does often. Some of the samples I have listened to were unintelligible. I have no doubt that the cards on the shelf this year just got so to be such poor quality that the words are sounding garbled and that is why the NAACP people are able to think they are hearing raciest statements. If the cards had better quality sound this would not have happened and everybody would be having fun with the cards.

    The one lesson that Hallmark should learn from this is QUALITY CONTROL.

    Hopefully more sensible people take this event over and prevent the knucklheads of us from
    eliminating the use of common scientific words in the cause of equality!

  101. Buzz Mega

    “A man hears what he wants to hear–and disregards the rest. Lie la lie”

    -Paul Simon

  102. Russell

    I gotta chime in on this one. I work in that industry and I can tell you what has happened here (IMHO).

    These cards have tiny little micro chips and really-really-really cheap micro size speakers so the sound can get distorted and does often. Some of the samples I have listened to were unintelligible. I have no doubt that the cards on the shelf this year just got to be such poor quality that the words are sounding garbled, and that is why the NAACP people are able to think they are hearing raciest statements. If the cards had better quality sound this would not have happened and everybody would be having fun with the cards.

    The one lesson that Hallmark should learn from this is quality control -NOT eliminate scientific words some people may not understand or misinterpret. Can you imagine this event leading to the editing of scientific words because some people do not use them in their daily lives? There is a danger here, you know how far idiots can take things.

    Hopefully more sensible people take this event over and prevent the knucklheads of us from
    eliminating the use of common scientific words in the cause of equality!

  103. As an old hand at illustration and publishing, I’ll skip all the sociological stuff and just ask, who was Hallmark expecting to buy this rambling and unfunny card? Don’t they know most of us Americans have the attention span of an 8 x 10 glossy of Stella Stevens?

  104. Shoeshine Boy

    Oom-pah-pah! Oom-pah-pah!
    That’s how it goes,
    Oom-pah-pah! Oom-pah-pah!
    Ev’ryone knows:
    They all suppose what they want to suppose
    When they hear oom-pah-pah!

    -Oliver!

  105. mjs28c

    This doesn’t surprise me at all.
    Years ago they argued that the Snapple bottle labels were racist because they showed a picture of a slave ship. But it was clearly a depiction of the Boston Tea Party.
    They also felt the the ‘K’ (for kosher) on food packages actually meant ‘KKK’.
    And last, but not least…..this is the same group of people that felt that Obama was going to help them pay their bills.
    Martin Luther King must be doing pinwheels.

  106. l sandel

    For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why my soph-level calculus prof kept talking about “racial problems”……

    until I finally figured out that he was saying “ratio problems.” On my behalf, he did have a very thick accent.

  107. wishiwasakardashian

    Let us not forget the immortal words of one Jay-Z
    “I got 99 problems but a b!&ch ain’t one”
    Held up as a pillar of his community by ALL the groups who try so hard to eliminate segregation by segregating themselves. I’m sure his wife will be relieved to know that she is either not a problem or not a b!&ch–but I would surely find out which one if I were her

  108. S.

    I remember being called into my manager’s office at work for racism. Apparently, referring to Spanish in the context of “foreign” languages is offensive to Spaniards. Not that anyone Spanish actually worked there, so I don’t see what the potential problem would have been anyway.
    To this day, the manager is still convinced that it’s racism.

  109. Allen

    Hey, I got one of those cards a few years ago when I graduated high school! Either my grandmother is a racist (she’s not), or they heard it wrong.

  110. Calli Arcale

    I’m very disappointed that Hallmark caved, but not entirely surprised. I’m more disappointed (though not surprised) in the NAACP for once again proving that they decide first and ask questions later.

    But my biggest disappointment of all is the fact that this shows how pathetically we educate our students — black, white, or whatever. The context of the audio is obvious, and only somebody who hears obscenities from a Tickle Me Elmo would think otherwise — assuming the person has any idea what a black hole actually is, or that it would somehow relate to a card making jokes based on outer space.

    Notably, we do not hear complaints like this from Neil deGrasse Tyson (who knows a hell of a lot about black holes, and consequently probably has auditory pareidolia the *other* way on this particular subject) or NASA administrator Charles Bolden, or any other well educated black man. It’s just the professional concern trolls whose minds are in the gutter and permanently offended.

    Phil hits the nail on the head — by fussing over a non-issue like this, the NAACP dilutes itself. Then again, perhaps they are trending towards irrelevance, and are becoming like PETA — going after soft targets rather than the ones that would actually mean something, because that’s too much work and involves too much personal risk.

  111. #19 Plutonian:
    Believe it or not, in some places in the UK, people actually can lose their jobs for saying “black coffee”!!!! See below.

    #79 Messier:
    “Can we have our language back, please?”
    I couldn’t agree more! In the UK, we have a particularly ridiculous form of “political correctness” insanity, whereby it’s no longer “acceptable” to use all manner of common words and phrases, which contain the word “black”, such as “black coffee”, “blackboard”, “black spot”, etc. There are some councils, especially in parts of London – justfiably known as the “Loony Left” – whose employees are actually sacked for using such words!
    The idiotic thing is, the objections to these phrases didn’t come from black people at all! These “rules” were made up by a handful of white people, who imagined that those phrases were offensive to black people, but didn’t have the sense to ask any black people what they thought!!!! I kid you not! ( I know this, because at the time it all started, I had a black friend who worked for one of those councils. ) And of course, 99% of black people find such stupidity more insulting than the non-existent racism which it’s supposed to prevent.
    If those words are really offensive to black people, then how come:
    a. The term “black spot” is still used on road signs in Kenya?
    b. My girlfriend, who comes from Kenya, asks for a “black coffee”, and thinks nothing of it?
    DUHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    In similar vein to the “black hole” and “niggardly” misunderstandings; just recently, a call centre operator, of an ethnic minority, accused me of using offensive language, and put the phone down on me, when I had done no such thing. I had asked her to put me through to her supervisor, and whe she refused for some reason, I said, “I want to speak to the organ grinder, not the monkey!”
    For the benefit of US readers, that’s a traditional British saying, which simply means “I want to speak to the person in charge”. It goes back centuries, and has no offensive or racist meaning whatsoever; it derives from the fact that organ grinders, who used to play barrel organs at fairs, traditionally used performing monkeys as their “assistants”.
    While I have no time at all for racists, nor do I have any for idiots who insist on finding racism where there isn’t any. And I really can’t see why we should abandon innocent, centuries-old sayings, just because a handful of people might misinterpret them.

  112. Brad

    @114. Neil Haggath
    You said “I want to speak to the organ grinder, not the monkey!” to a call center representative? No offense but that really makes you sound like a douche and you should expect them to either hang up or put you on hold while they go smoke a cigarette or take their time on the toilet.

  113. Thomathy

    @ 32. Not Timmy

    Actually, that lawsuit did not end up favouring the complainants and Southwest Airlines was found not liable in that case and on appeal.

    The rhyme is not racist at all. At least, it’s not racist at all in any of its ‘traditional’ versions. Apparently in America (I’m Canadian, myself) the rhyme was adapted to use the word ‘nigger’ rather than ‘tiger’ or a variant thereof sometime around the late 1800′s. I’ve never even heard the rhyme with any animal other than a tiger, let alone the replacement of it with the word ‘nigger’. I’ve never imagined such a thing either.

    It’s interesting what people confronted by racism often will mistake as being racist and I’m not sure it’s entirely unreasonable that such people would hear (or see) racism where there is none intended. The experience is obviously largely subjective and that is problematic. If someone feels they’ve been victimized by racism, is it enough that they feel there has been racism and does the intent of the entity accused of racism have any bearing?

    That lawsuit sets the precedent that both the intent of the accused and the etymology (in the case of things that have been said) count, not just the subjective experience of the complainant, at least in the United States. I’m sure that’s fair, but that doesn’t address the problem so much as it protects the accused from someone’s subjective experience.

    The problem, again, or what is problematic about the experience of racism, is that it is largely a subjective experience. There’s no doubt that at least sometimes that experience is genuine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there was actually any racism. I suppose what needs to change is this peculiar culture of hyper political correctness, for lack of a better term, which seems to cause people to search out offence in everything. Then perhaps people who have been or may be victimized by racism can stop searching out racism in everything and let racism die out with the backward, ignorant and hateful people who really are racist. I don’t think racism will go away until people stop acknowledging it, not without, of course, remembering what it is.

  114. Old Rockin' Dave

    I didn’t expect to be discussing Helen Thomas or the Turkish blockade runners but here goes:
    ndt (#86) says that there is nothing wrong with telling the Jews of Israel to go “back” to Germany and Poland. Not even going into the fact that over half of Israeli Jews are Sephardic or Mizrachi Jews, the Jews who were expelled from Arab and other Islamic countries, is Helen Thomas so senile she forgot that there was a little problem Jews had with Germany called the Holocaust, which took the lives of one-third of the world’s Jews? Is she so ignorant that she is totally unaware of Poland’s long history of anti-Semitism, including pogroms AFTER World War II that took 1500 Jewish lives? It is deeply offensive and racist; it’s on a par with telling blacks to go back to the plantation. But she only was talking about Jews, and that is a very minor offense in America and Europe!
    As for “dave from Manchester england” (#91), he declares, “I think that a child in Gaza – starving to death because of the Israeli blockade – might, with some justification, think that there are worse ways forms racism than name calling.” Nothing wrong with that – except that there is no starvation in Gaza, as certified by international aid organizations and journalists. Maybe an Israeli, torn apart and hemorrhaging from warfarin-coated ball bearings in a Hamas rocket might think that ensuring that war materials didn’t get into Gaza was not such a bad idea, or maybe the parents of Gilad Schalit, kidnapped four years ago and held in solitary confinement since, might consider that restricting the flow of consumer goods to Gaza not a bad idea. The Israeli government has a duty to protect and rescue its citizens. Hamas is at war with Israel. Britain didn’t hesitate to cause hardship in Germany in two World Wars with a naval blockade. Don’t talk racism to me; you are not only deliberately ignorant of the facts, but you adhere to the old anti-Semitic tactic of demanding a separate standard for Jews and Israel.

  115. Old Rockin' Dave

    Just a word more on Gaza:
    Particularly note the following: “”There is no starvation in Gaza,” said Khalil Hamada, a senior official at Hamas’s ministry of justice. “No-one has died of hunger.”
    It might also be note, “dave from Mancheste england”, that you come from the city in the UK with the highest number of race-based criminal attacks against Jews. Coincidence?

  116. GabachoMike

    i’ve seen – and heard – this card in the wild.

    sounded fine to my ears…but who would, in this day and age, would care about ANYthing an archaic group like NAACP would say?

    Remember, part of their acronym stands for

    “Colored People”.

    Huh?

    Who the heck says “colored people” nowadays???

    if i were black, i’d be a bit offended over THAT.

    When is this old, self-righteous political action group going to modernize their name to a more appropriate

    NAAAA (dropping the CP for a more political-correct “African-Americans” ) acronym.

    or even

    NA4 (for those with scientific ambitions).

    What a bunch of knee-jerk racists.

  117. Mike Mullen

    The boarding of the ships was tactically inept, seemingly lacking any contingency short of lethal force if they met serious resistance, and strategically stupid; there was never going to be any sort of gain to Israeli security that would have offset the bad publicity even if they had seized the ship without casualties.
    It was a bad idea from the get go and saying otherwise is doing nothing for the Israeli cause. Criticizing Israel is not anti-semitism, sometimes its just despair at watching that nation progressively tarnish its reputation without making itself one iota safer or more secure.

  118. Old Rockin' Dave

    I don’t know where my link went in # 117. It was from a recent article in The Daily Telegraph, a British paper. Here is the URL unenclosed in carets, for those interested. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/7806209/Dispatch-Just-how-hungry-is-Gaza.html
    Mike (#118), criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic (although quite a bit is) but passing off phony facts could be.
    As for whether the boarding was tactically inept, five of the six ships surrendered peacefully, but on the other there were apparently trained fighters who came loaded for bear. The Israelis came on board with holstered pistols; their main armament was paintball guns. They threw flashbangs and tear gas. I am not sure how much more non-lethality they could have planned for, nor what else they could have done when mobbed by men with deadly weapons. Had they intended to kill, they would have carried assault rifles and the body count would have been much higher. Remember that two of the Israeli troops were also shot. The captain of the Mavi Marmara told a reporter that he thought that guns were on board that were thrown over the side before the ship was surrendered. It is jarring to me to hear people who attacked with iron bars, chains, knives and guns described as “peace activists;” in my youth we had a slogan: “Killing for peace is like f***ing for chastity.” You do have to ask how much of the blame lies on people who wielded deadly weapons against armed men. Attack your local deputy or trooper with an iron bar or a knife, and if you survive, see how much sympathy the jury thinks you are entitled to.

  119. ND

    The current Turkish leaders are very loud about other people’s wrong doings when they have so much to atone to. Most recent being the destruction of thousands of Kurdish civilians and villages when fighting the PKK. It was brutal. The Turkish military was waging a silent and very bloody war. Not to mention that the Kurdish language was outlawed for decades. And this is a NATO member. There have been positive changes in Turkey in the past 8 years or so but it will take time.

    That said there are issues with Israel’s policies too. That operation into Gaza the other year left hundreds of civilians dead. It caused much more damage than what it was trying to stop.

    People will do very bad things when no-one is looking or there is no checks and balances to stop them. Same story whether it’s bankers, oil companies or governments.

    Edit: Not to mention Turkey has blocked its border with Armenia since ’93 over the post soviet Armenian-Azerbaijani war. This war did not involve Turkey at all.

  120. Steve

    I said:
    “Once out of the confines of middle class America the nuances of language can indeed be a problem.”

    NDT replied:
    “Why, because only middle class Americans are capable of detecting nuances?”

    Precisely the opposite (hint: I’m not a white, middle-class, American). From the evidence here middle class Americans appear to be incapable of stepping outside their experience and understanding what the issue is. Is that possibly the result of living in a racially divided and profoundly discriminatory society which blames those it oppresses. I think so.

  121. Dr.Sid

    Just say singularity and stay on the safe side :-D

  122. Hannu Siivonen

    Wasn’t “Black Hole” itself considered a racist term some time ago? After all it is “Black”

  123. #115 Brad:
    First, I only used that phrase, after I had already asked twice, politely, to speak to the supervisor, and for some reason best known to herself, the woman had twice refused my reasonable request. When I did get to speak to the supervisor, he agreed that she had been wrong to hang up on me.
    Second, while I wouldn’t expect an American to understand British idiom ( conversely, I’m not entirely sure what your insult to me means, as it isn’t a word we use here ), I did clearly explain that the phrase is a traditional British saying, which goes back centuries, and has no offensive or racial meaning whatsoever. No British person would ever find it in any way offensive.

    BTW, regarding the meaning of NAACP; I don’t know about the US, but in the UK, most black people have no problem with being described as black, but many are actually offended when white people refer to them as “coloured”. They see it as a patronising euphemism to avoid saying “black”, as if it’s something which needs to be avoided.

  124. Josie

    Neil Haggath –*minor tangent*…have you ever seen an American call a black British citizen ‘African American’? (the thought made me giggle at the absurdity)

    There are some people in this country who can’t call black people black and use ‘African American’…even if the person is say, Ethiopian. Funny, I don’t think I have ever heard people refer to those of Egyptian, Libyan or Moroccan descent referred to as African American.

  125. Murff

    Someone up there mentioned using the term in a card game, saying they reneged and he called them out for being a reneger. This happens in the game Spades, and the term sounds like “renigger” when spoken, I’ve never heard it sound like “re negger” with the “egg” like a chicken sound.

    Just the pronunciation alone makes me not use it. That particular word has been used for so much hate, I do wish it would just disappear forever.

    On topic, I like the guy who talked about the cards being old, and the sound systems poor. I think taken in context, the NAACP should have not publicly brought this up, but if they did hear whole/ho instead of hole, they should have contacted Hallmark, who in turn should have removed the cards if they did indeed have poor enough sound quality that the distinction wasn’t obvious.

    lol, I also like the comment about the NAACP standing for colored people, it certianly seems to be “more wrong” to say colored people instead of saying black people. I generally don’t refer to them as anything but their name, and I never use the term African American unless I know the person has dual citizenship. I’ve never been referred to as a Swiss-American, because although my family name goes back to Illnau-Effretikon, I am not, and never have been, Swiss. I’ve also never even been to Switzerland! Being knowledgeable and proud of you’re heritage is great, using it to segregate yourselves or others is not.

    The more we keep dividing ourselves, the farther apart we grow.

  126. Buzz Parsec

    Aaron@58, never had a problem with this but what’s all that about Damn Marines playing in the band in “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”?

    Well, all for now, excuse me while I kiss this guy.

  127. #15 – Actually, Luis (and I’m a little surprised I’m the first one to correct you on this one) as “hole” and “whore” are commonly pronounced, their vowel sound is one and the same. If it’s a diphthong (which is not just one vowel but two!) in hole, it’s the same diphthong in whore. Some people pronounce a difference, but that’s not common on the pacific coast, as you can clearly hear in the video.

  128. Pinwizd88

    When is America going to wake up! The biggest racist hate group in this country is the NAACP.
    If I was a big owner of corporation, I would not bow to anything coming from those ignorant
    S.O.B’s. S.C. has been fighting that group for years about the Rebel Flag on the state grounds and its still there!!!! NAACP go jump in a lake and drown yourselves..PLEASE

  129. Pinwizd88

    Stupid people should not buy cards, at least ones that have sound. I’m going to complain about all cards with sound, because they are annoying. Here is something better, if you own a computer you can design and send your own cards by email. Yahoo has all types of greeting cards that you send via email for Free, or you can print it for the ones who don’t have a PC, like the idiots at the NAACP!!!

  130. Pinwizd88

    Everybody design your card and send it to the NAACP, that would keep them busy for a long time, while real issues that need attention, would go unattended (ie.) unemployment, becoming homeless, illegal immigration, Veterans issues, and other issues that face black America, other than some stupid words in a card….The NAACP is nothing but a bunch of STUPID MORONS!!!!

  131. Farker

    Now, if they were printing this as part of their “Mahogany” line, *then* we’d have something to go on…

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