Kanye West

School Investigates Teacher Over Kanye West Costume, and That's Absurd

It's okay. You can make fun of Kanye West. Can't you?

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Kanye West
Youtube

Heath Morrow, an elementary school teacher at Chestnut Grove Elementary School in Decatur, Alabama, issued a public apology for dressing up as Kanye West at a Halloween party. A representative for the school district read the apology during a press conference on Monday.

The party wasn't sponsored by the school; it was just a private gathering that had nothing to do with Chestnut Grove Elementary. The only reason anyone found out about the costume, I presume, was because Morrow's wife posted a photo of the pair in their Kanye and Kim Kardashian costumes on Facebook. I also presume the apology was coerced, or semi-coerced: if the district read the apology, it seems likely the district told him to make one.

"I do not want this to reflect on my school or school system based on a poor decision that I made," Morrow wrote in his statement. "Again I apologize and this will not happen again."

Nevertheless, the school district is investigating the incident, according to WHNT.

I understand that wearing blackface is presumed to be deeply offensive—and rightly so, given the long history of white performers dressing up as racist caricatures. These kinds of costumes are a reminder of a legacy of racial discrimination, and disparage all black people. They are never a wise idea.

Morrow should have neglected to darken his skin in order to avoid accusations of blackface. But that said, Morrow clearly isn't demeaning black people in general. He isn't dressed up as a black person; he's dressed up as Kanye West. And it should be okay to mock Kanye West. He's a ridiculous celebrity! He's maybe running for president! As I wrote in response to the kerfuffle over Kanye West costumes at UCLA:

Indeed, it doesn't seem like costumed partygoers intended to disparage black people; they intended to disparage one specific black person: Kanye West. Is there something wrong with that? Is it not okay to mock a ridiculous celebrity?

UCLA, like the Decatur school district, also chose to investigate the incident. But there's nothing to investigate. An ill-considered costume barely merits an apology; it certainly doesn't justify any punitive action either school might take as a result of further inquiry into the matter.

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  1. I understand that wearing blackface is presumed to be deeply offensive?and rightly so, given the long history of white performers dressing up as racist caricatures. These kinds of costumes are a reminder of a legacy of racial discrimination, and disparage all black people. They are never a wise idea.

    Morrow should have neglected to darken his skin in order to avoid accusations of blackface. But that said,

    OBLIGATORY

    1. For a minute there I thought Robby was wholly and completely pro-Al Jolson. I’m relieved he told us otherwise.

    2. Of course. You just can’t call a spade a spade without the disclaimer.

      1. ITS A HOE, NOT A SPADE

      2. Can we call for all the Kardashians to be spade without a disclaimer?

    3. And for the record, it’s not rightly so.

      1. It’s Not OK, either.

        1. It’s morally neutral. Assuming that someone in blackface is deliberately alluding to a form of theater they’d never seen from over one hundred years ago is absurd. Fundamentally, it’s just a costume and someone else’s offendedness is their own.

          If (a white) someone goes as Mr T for Halloween, he can wear the clothes, speak with the dialect, get the right hair and put on the right beard, but holy fuck it’s time to shit your pants if he darkens his complexion too.

    4. They are never a wise idea

      Even the Three Wise Men proves this

    5. It’s seems like every single one of these H&R posts is loaded with social signaling to retarded leftists. They’ll never get donation money from me that way.

      1. Maybe Reason is angling leftwards so that they can simply take your donation money.

      2. Well, someone has to do it. There are plenty of libertarian outlets signaling to retarded right wingers out there too.

        I’ll admit it does grate on me a bit. Isn’t it’s possible that it’s time to get over being all offended about the sterotypes of a century ago?

        But the message that offensive expression needs to be as vigorously defended as any is an important one.

    6. and how often do we hear, “ignore everything that comes after the but.” Get a grip Robby; it was a costume, not a social statement.

      1. “ignore everything that comes after the but

        by that token, you’re suggesting everyone should ignore Kanye West

      2. “Ignore everything after the ‘but'” is a load of shit anyway.

        I think Robbie went a little too far in his absolute condemnation of blackface. But some things actually are that offensive. It’s fine to say, “no decent person should do this, but it shouldn’t be against the law or lose someone their job.”

    7. I’m confused. Is dressing up as a black person always and everywhere verboten:

      They are never a wise idea.

      Or is it OK as long as you are mocking a specific black person:

      He isn’t dressed up as a black person; he’s dressed up as Kanye West. And it should be okay to mock Kanye West.

      Tell me, how can I mock Kanye West in costume without dressing up as a black person?

      1. Morrow should have neglected to darken his skin in order to avoid accusations of blackface.

        Because who wouldn’t get a kick out of a couple dressed as Kim Kardashian and some white guy?

      2. I’m confused. Is dressing up as a black person always and everywhere verboten:

        They are never a wise idea.

        Or is it OK as long as you are mocking a specific black person:

        Robby gets so caught up in social signalling and assuring the leftists how well he can empathize with their irrationality, that his argument fails to make logical sense.

  2. Brother. Another anecdotal story of the inanity of some school suspensions, one that is supposed to prove some overarching point or trend. It doesn’t. It just proves people can do silly things anywhere, including at Reason.

    Good to know you’re on the case with school suspensions, ones that the adults will work out on their own anyway.

    1. You’re like a human Soft Carrot, Joe.

    2. Again, if by “adults working out on their own” you mean lawyers getting involved and possible criminal charges, I agree hunnert percent.

      1. Don’t be such a nanny. From the story

        “Nichols said the district is investigating the incident”

        But to bleeding heart libertarians, I guess that means lawyers and criminal charges. Let these adults handle it on their own. They’ll figure it out, without activism from libertarians.

        1. How are your pepper plants? Did you move them to a cold frame or did you harvest what you could and let the plants die in the frost that we’ve had in the region?

          1. Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that Bud in your hand?

        2. Hey joe, you start drinking early today? You don’t usually make a fool of yourself until a little later on in the afternoon.

          1. “Let these adults handle it on their own.”

            I think this is an update of “Trust democracy.”

            1. Look, Chavez was democratically elected, ok?

    3. According to Joe from Lowell, Eric Garner was just ‘working things out’ between the police on his own.

    4. Much like that guy who spent 3 years in Riker’s Island with no trial before prosecutors worked his case out and dropped the charges.

      1. “No harm done!”

        /Jackass Ace

  3. ” this will not happen again.””

    Oh, yes it will. Not to YOU. But someone at this very moment is doing *something*

    1. But someone at this very moment is doing *something*

      !!!!!…faints…

  4. …and rightly so, given the long history of white performers dressing up as racist caricatures.

    OH. MY. GAWD.

    1. How dare you suggest Robby has ever been less than a committed defender of free speech in all its forms.

  5. The difference between “blackface” and dressing as Kanye West is so fucking completely obvious, that I won’t even bother to type the words in this comment.

    1. next you’ll be suggesting the Oompah Loomahs aren’t racist

      1. In elementary school, I did orangeface for a school production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I must admit.

        1. That’s hate speech! Against John Boehner!

          1. Or Megan Fox, I’m not sure which.

            1. If you’ve seen Jennifer’s Body, then that hate speech is well deserved. Though really it’s Diablo Cody’s fault since she wrote it.

  6. Wikipedia on a old Joseph Conrad book:

    In 2009, WordBridge Publishing published a new edition titled The N-Word of the Narcissus, which completely excised the word “nigger” from the text. According to the publishers, the offensive word may have led readers to avoid the book, and thus by getting rid of it the work was made more accessible.[8] Although praised by some, others denounced the change as censorship.

    link at the bottom:

    The Ni—- (sic) of the “Narcissus: A Tale of the Forecastle”, available as a printer-ready PDF from Ria Press.

    I’m not sure why they don’t use the original American title if they think the original title is so offensive?

    1. How many African Americans brought they irons tonight?
      How many African Americans wanna ride tonight?
      Pick out our victims when the time is right
      We get they ass up off the corner cause they dyin’ tonight

      African Americans be all up in my mug
      But it’s a different story when them muthafuckas coughing up blood
      [When he died, looking in his eyes, was he as he cried]
      I bust another cap in his ass and he died, time is 5

      African Americans be shootin’ the gif like they for real
      But when it jumps, they ain’t got no murder skills
      So Bill just chops ’em down, watch ’em fall
      And cut they ass head to toe, jaw to jaw

      There – much less offensive!

  7. “Blackface?? Nanny, please, I’m Zombie Kanye exhibiting signs of advanced decomposition. “

  8. Never, ever, ever apologize. It implies guilt on your part and it won’t placate the critics. I’m sorry but that’s just the way it is.

    1. “I’m sorry but that’s just the way it is.”

      I am not placated

    2. That’s why I enjoyed the recent Cathy Young article so much. She pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. Take notes, Rico.

  9. Also isn’t blackface more of a relic of slavery rather than Segregation?

  10. Why didn’t he just go as a gay fish?

    1. ” He isn’t dressed up as a black person; he’s dressed up as Kanye West’

      Both you and robby are horrible people for trying to deny Kanye West his blackness.

      1. GILMORE, do you like to put fish sticks…in your mouth?

    2. Or at least say he identifies as a gay fish and thus was merely taking the caricature of another of his kind.

  11. Did he have a banjo on his knee?

  12. YOU PC BRA?

  13. As I mentioned in the PM links.

    I plan to sport just a monocle….and a child of choice on a leash as I hand out nothing but Coffee Crisps.

    1. So is censoring Pre-Code movies okay again?

      And how about that opening shot from The Bowery?

  14. Will they still let Dave Chappelle do whiteface?

  15. Black facepalm.

  16. a sad day when the state where I grew up resorts of pants-shitting over a Halloween costume. With plans to investigate, no less. I wonder if there is enough wood for all the self-crucifixion that will follow.

    1. What the hell is there to investigate anyway? Do they think that the Kanye West costume might indicate that he’s the head of the KKK or something?

      1. What the hell is there to investigate anyway?

        Good question.

        I suspect its less an investigation, than a pretext for continued harassment in the “process is the punishment” mode.

  17. Stop with the goddamn caveats Robby. Just quit.

    1. Here’s the problem, Robby:

      By the time you get done with the caveats and the to-be-sures and the buts and all that, only the faintest whiff of condemnation or criticism remains.

      I mean, if what this guy did is completely unacceptable, then why gripe about him getting slapped around a little for it?

      1. “if what this guy did is completely unacceptable, then why gripe about him getting slapped around a little for it?’

        which is exactly why this sort of “to be sure…” bullshit fails to appeal to either the Social Justice set OR libertarians.

        The Perennially Offended will nod with him up until he cries for leniency, and they won’t pay that shit any mind at all = “YOU ADMITTED THERE IS NEVER A JUSTIFIED CONTEXT FOR BLACKFACE!?” He hands them the form for his own dismissal. To them, he’s admitting fault and then just making weak excuses about blah blah blah and they go “but free speech is only about Government Censorship Stupid!”

        Whereas the old crusty Libertarians? certainly don’t want to hear a fucking lecture about social propriety. We’re the kind of people who went to GG Allin shows… BECAUSE.

        Its got nothing for anyone. Its a vegan hotdog.

  18. This Halloween I should go as Zip Coon.

  19. I understand that wearing blackface is presumed to be deeply offensive?and rightly so, given the long history of white performers dressing up as racist caricatures.

    Blackface is a specific thing. It does not now and never has referred to altering ones race with makeup.

    Blackface refers to the black clown face used in minstrel shows–a face remarkably similar to it’s whiteface counterpart.

    Allowing people to call any cosmetic racial change ‘blackface’ is the same as allowing people to insist that the right type of stare is sexual assault.

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