Is Calling the President a Dick Worse Than Calling Him a Racist? Is Calling the President a Dick Worse Than Calling Him a Racist?
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Is Calling the President a Dick Worse Than Calling Him a Racist?

by Nona Willis Aronowitz

July 1, 2011

MSNBC's Mark Halperin called Obama a "dick" on national television this morning in reaction to the president's stern press conference yesterday. Despite the fact that he immediately apologized, Halperin has been "suspended indefinitely," according to an MSNBC statement.

I kinda feel him. Frankly, copping an attitude at a press conference is far from the most dickish thing Obama has done. What with caving to conservatives on a huge range of issues, failing to prioritize jobs, and waffling on gay marriage, sometimes I've wanted to shake him by the shoulders and say, "Barack. Stop being a dick." Of course, that's no way to make an argument on national television.

But why is Halperin the one getting suspended?

Other hosts have made baseless claims about Obama being a racist and kept their TV shows (peace, Glenn Beck!). Playing a song on your radio show called "Barack the Magic Negro" is apparently not a fireable offense. You can even pretty much declare the president a terrorist, and that'd be fine with your boss.

Call the president a slang word for a penis, though, and you're done for.

Granted, "dick" is technically a four-letter word, although it's not on the FCC list of things you can't say on the air. (For some reason, no part of the male anatomy is one of the "Seven Dirty Words.") It's not the classiest thing to say on a news show, and recent history has shown that progressive-leaning news outlets are more sensitive to "inappropriate" speech on the air. Also, Americans are prudes. But in my book, using racist rhetoric to criticize a president is far worse than a mild curse word we all learned in first grade.

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Is Calling the President a Dick Worse Than Calling Him a Racist?