It's Called Doublespeak, Bitch

The New York City Council, which brought us such futilities as a moratorium on the word “nigger” (no matter who says it or in what context), continues its battle against free speech. In an effort to promote civility and general niceness, the words “bitch” and “ho” will reportedly soon join the "n-word" on a list of Words That Shall Not Be Named. The legislation (as well as the sensitive NYT) delicately refers to the offending noun as “The B Word,” and seems rather unnecessarily focused on rap music:

The measure, which 19 of the 51 council members have signed onto, was prompted in part by the frequent use of the word in hip-hop music. Ten rappers were cited in the legislation, along with an excerpt from an 1811 dictionary that defined the word as “A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman.”

While the bill also bans the slang word “ho,” the b-word appears to have acquired more shades of meaning among various groups, ranging from a term of camaraderie to, in a gerund form, an expression of emphatic approval. Ms. Mealy acknowledged that the measure was unenforceable, but she argued that it would carry symbolic power against the pejorative uses of the word. Even so, a number of New Yorkers said they were taken aback by the idea of prohibiting a term that they not only use, but do so with relish and affection.

Cast your mind back to December 2006 when Katherine Mangu-Ward listed all the things the New York City Council tried to ban that year. 

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  • ||

    Bitch, please!

  • ||

    It's gonna be hard out there for a pimp.

  • JF||

    Bitchin'!

  • ||

    What will Santa be allowed to say now?

  • ||

    Thank gosh they aren't going to ban any white people words!

  • ||

    I wonder if "BIOTCH!" is also covered by the law.

    It's nice to see that NYC's focus has moved from banning things that go into your mouth to banning things that come out of it.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    The good news is that once they ban it, no one will say it!

  • ||

    There's only one thing to say to that:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISyi4or3wYs

  • ||

    Hmm. I wonder whether it specifies use of 'bitch' as a noun. Cuz, when it's used as a verb it has no connotations about women. Then there's 'bitchin', which seems to mean something like 'extremely'. Again, it doesn't demean women either.
    But of course, expecting the NY City council to know something about language, or to ask someone who does (as opposed to any random person who has a loud voice) is probably expecting a little too much.

  • ||

    Ms. Mealy acknowledged that the measure was unenforceable, but she argued that it would carry symbolic power against the pejorative uses of the word.

    That bitch is one crazy, stupid ass ho.

  • ||

    Ten rappers were cited in the legislation, along with an excerpt from an 1811 dictionary that defined the word as "A she dog, or doggess; the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman."

    And they used the 1811 dictionary because...

    We've come up with a few more "offensive appelations" in the past 196 years.

  • ||

    Do they have an exemption for dog breeders?

  • ||

    "This sagging of the pants Saying the word 'bitch' is to me a defiant act, and it has all kinds of implications," says Ms. Robinson, who is black. "If you can't get up in the morning and pull your pants up say something nice to your mother, that says a lot about you, even if I don't know anything about you."

  • val||

    BITCH (n): the most offensive appellation that can be given to an English woman."


    bitch please, that honor belongs to our lil' gem known as CUNT

  • ||

    argh I knew someone would say it

  • ||

    val, I thought that honor belonged to "squish mitten"...

  • The Editorial Board, Speaking ||

    We hereby tender our resignations, effective immediately. It's simply impossible to parody this country.

  • poco||

    Son of a bitch!

  • ||

    And Ms. Mealy admitted that the city's political ruling class can be guilty of its use. As she circulated her proposal, she said, "even council members are saying that they use it to their wives."

    I find it deeply satisfying that NY city council members are going around calling their wives bitches.

  • ||

    val & crimethink,

    I'll counter with gash.

  • ||

    Doggess is my new favorite word.

  • MattXIV||

    "Let's describe a certain female; a female with a disease of character and attitude. If you will, a snob. However, in the view of NWA..."

  • ||

    de stijl,
    Axe-wound.

  • matt||

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5961509348162431299&q=evening+news+chamillionaire&total=37&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

    These things sometimes feel a little different when the shoe's on the other foot. Skip ahead to 2:20 to see how our "free speech debate" sounds to Mr. Chamillioniare.

    Free speech is our right, but the type of free speech we choose to engage in speaks volumes about us.

  • Fluffy||

    I note that they also admit they can't enforce it.

    Shouldn't it be something of an impeachable offense for a legislator to wilfully vote for something they admit in advance can't be enforced due to its illegality?

  • ||

    de stijl,

    I thought it was "womby vaultages".

  • Episiarch||

    Her name is Mealy? So if she said bitch, would it be mealy-mouthed?

    * runs off

  • ||

    God (or his/her secular equivalent), what is with the fad of "leaders" in major metropolitan areas trying to turn their cities into 19th Century hick towns?

    (full, disclosure: I'm from a 21st Century hick town)

  • ||

    ¿Que pasa si voy por todos lados diciendo "¡PUTA! ¡PUTA!"?

  • Dre||

    Ho is not disrespectful - it's short for honey. We just got lazy and dropped the "ney", just like when...

  • Gahan||

    "¿Que pasa si voy por todos lados diciendo "¡PUTA! ¡PUTA!"?"

    Ganas el Premio Nobel de literatura.

    http://sepiensa.org.mx/contenidos/2004/putastristes/tristes.htm

  • ||

    Shouldn't it be something of an impeachable offense for a legislator to wilfully vote for something they admit in advance can't be enforced due to its illegality?

    To do that, they would have to be impeached by other politicians, every single one of whom had voted for such measures.

  • Hiphopopotamus||

    My raps are so potent that in this small comment
    I made all of the ladies on Hit & Run pregnant
    Yeah, sometimes my lyrics are sexist,
    but you lovely bitches and hos should know I'm trying to correct this.

  • nebby||

    With props to George Carlin:

    cumcatcher

  • ||

    nebby:

    I'm more partial to "cum dumpster," myself.

  • Mista Lawnge||

    'sup Dres?

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    J. K. Rowling chose the wrong name for the villain of the Harry Potter series. Voldemort's name should have been Nigger.

    New York City public officials believe in word magic.

  • Paul||

    When did New Yorkers become such pussies?

  • Dres||

    Good catch Mista Lawnge - it's been way too long since I listened to some black sheep. I'll have to see if I can find my cd

  • ||

    Now, are they going to bury the word "bitch" in the cemetery like they did "nigger"? Of course, if they put a headstone there it kind of defeats the purpose.

  • ||

    "Doggess is my new favorite word."

    Keep bitch, ban doggess.
    I never use it anyway. I didn't know it was a word until 4 minutes ago.

  • ||

    Completely out-of-context quote from Pandagon.

    "To make the irony even deeper, they've also gone after the word "nigger", because it's all over the place in rap music, too. I'm getting the impression they're trying to ban hip-hop word by word. The sound of scratching records is an assault on my womanhood, I say, and that should help the process along."

  • ||

    Snark aside, the NY City Council can't actually think such restrictions on speech will withstand a court challenge, can they? Or are they trying to get those particular words classified as "hate speech" in an effort to circumvent the 1st amendment?

    Also, I believe that "bitch" is still the appropriate and oft-spoken word used by professional dog handlers and dog breeders to refer to female dogs.

  • ||

    I'm a bitch, I'm a bitch
    Oh the bitch is back
    Stone cold sober as a matter of fact
    I can bitch, I can bitch
    'cause I'm better than you
    It's the way that I move
    The things that I do

  • ||

    For those keeping track, here's the current status of words meaning "whore" in New York:

    DISALLOWED:
    Ho

    ALLOWED:
    Trollop
    Call-Girl
    Slattern
    Floozy
    Slut
    Courtesan
    Prostitute
    Strumpet
    Hussy
    Streetwalker
    Bawd
    Tart
    Hooker
    Tramp
    Congressman
    Wanton
    Harlot
    Whore

  • LordSomber||

    "Doggess" shouldn't be confused with "Doggist," for those who are prejudiced against dogs.

  • ||

    Jake Boone,

    I don't think we have to worry about rappers insulting women with the word "tart"...well, unless their major influence was Monty Python. In that case, the city council might need to ban "moistened bint" as well.

  • John||

    So I take it that if I buy a box of Ho-Ho's, and they're smashed, I can't bitch to the store manager about it?

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