Pique'n'yer interest 

What’s up Dog?

I’ve never watched a full episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter, which airs on the Arts and Entertainment network although, from what little I have seen, it qualifies neither as art or entertainment.

If anything, the show is a testament to how far we’ve sunk as a society when a self-righteous, mullet-haired jackass who throws poor schlubs in jail for the reward money can become a national hero.

It turns out he’s also a racist. He went on a telephone rant to one of his sons recently and used the “N” word repeatedly when referring to his son’s black girlfriend.

Said Dog, “It's not because she's black, it's because we use the word ni**er sometimes here. I'm not gonna take a chance ever in life of losing everything I've worked for for 30 years because some fucking ni**er heard us say ni**er and turned us in to the Enquirer magazine. Our career is over!”

Naturally, Dog’s son taped the entire conversation and then promptly turned the tape over to the Enquirer magazine. For everyone who has ever had trouble understanding the concept of irony this is a beautiful example.

Naturally, Dog made an equally prompt apology for using a bad word in anger, completely oblivious to the fact that the entire pretext for his tirade was offensive as hell. To whit, Dog actually objected to his son dating a black woman because he wanted to reserve the right to drop “N” bombs with impunity in the future and without risking his TV career — such as it is. He was right about that, as A&E suspended the show before the scandal was even a day old.

Dog will never recover from his slur, just as Michael Richards will never recover from his string of N bombs at the Laugh Factory last year.

Don Imus was given another chance at radio after calling the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hoes”, but only on a handful of stations that are a pale reflection of his once national glory.

Recently CBS had to close its online comment section on Barrack Obama’s presidential campaign due to racist comments.

Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly stunned the world last month by informing his listeners that a black-owned steakhouse in Harlem he visited was just like a steakhouse in a white neighbourhood, like he’d just discovered a new civilization. “There wasn’t one person in Sylvia’s who was screaming ‘M-fer, I want more iced tea,’” said an amazed O’Reilly.

And let’s not forget all the political commentators out there   that have remarked over the years that Obama, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell are “very well spoken,”, as if they somehow expected these highly educated individuals to speak jive.

It’s not just African Americans that are the target of this new wave of racism. Mel Gibson and Halle Berry both made disparaging comments about Jews — Gibson in an alcoholic rage, Berry on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno — and will be associated with those comments for a long, long time. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, an amazing spokesperson for the poor and disenfranchised in America, will never be fully accepted by the mainstream after once referring to New York as “Hymietown” way back in 1984.

These are just a few recent examples of racism and bigotry in the 21 st century; shining examples of how far we haven’t come. Decades of political correctness don’t appear to have made us any more politically correct.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody, because political correctness is ultimately about monitoring the way we speak — not saying offensive things and using the correct terminology when referring to people. It has nothing to do with changing the way we think, letting people keep their racist thoughts, stereotypes and bigotry to themselves. Or in Dog’s case, within his all-white, crime-fighting posse.

The thing is, those racist tendencies tend to come out eventually, whether it’s during an alcoholic binge like Mel Gibson, or in a moment of stress like Michael Richards.

There’s a perfectly good reason why racism persists through all the progress we’ve made. It’s the same reason why there’s conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, Hutus and Tutsis, Croats and Serbs, Irish Catholic and Irish Protestant, Tastes Great and Less Filling, Springfield and Shelbyville. Studies have shown that we’re biologically hard-wired to be tribal, nationalistic, cabalistic, sectarian, chauvinist, partisan, and generally inclined to think in terms of us and them.

Back in1961 a psychologist named Harvey Sherif took a group of white, middle-class 11-year-old kids who never met each other before and put them into a summer camp where they were divided into two groups, the Eagles and Rattlers. As expected, the two groups started off with name calling, progressed to sabotage, and wound up fighting. Then, researchers put them in a situation where they had to work together to solve a problem, and they rose to the occasion and formed a single tribe that questioned why they were separated and even rebelled against the researchers.

That’s the good news for all of us: We are capable of going beyond political correctness and genuinely putting aside our prejudices and our inclination to divide and conquer — something that the Dog refused to do. Bad Dog.

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