New York Post Columnist Phil Mushnick’s ‘New York N——s’ Nickname Possibly Racist, Needlessly Stupid

by NESN Staff

May 4, 2012

New York Post Columnist Phil Mushnick's 'New York N------s' Nickname Possibly Racist, Needlessly StupidLet's play a game called, Offensive or Just Plain Stupid?

Today's entry comes courtesy of Phil Mushnick, a New York Post columnist who made the weird connection between basketball, Jay-Z and the former New Jersey Nets' new black-and-white color scheme to float the idea that the team change its name to the "New York N——s."

So, is it offensive? Well, it might be, if it made any sense.

Here is the paragraph in question:

"Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!"

That word — which, you may have noticed based on the number of dashes between the "N" and the "S," is not even the right number of letters (and that is copied and pasted from his article) — is patently offensive, of course. What Mushnick seems to be getting at is, since Jay-Z uses that word in his rap lyrics, and since rappers like the color combination of black and white, the name would fit the franchise's "urban" personality, or something like that.

Judging by the comments left at the bottom of the story, plenty of people read the article and immediately thought: OK, that's racist. But that might be putting too fine a point on it. Stupidity is not always prejudiced. Sometimes stupid is just stupid.

For instance, when someone uses the word "gay" as an insult, it could mean that they are a homophobe, but most likely it just means they stopped learning new put-downs sometime around the seventh grade. Calling something "gay" is the equivalent of putting making an "L" with the index finger and thumb and sticking it to your forehead. If you are over the age of 14, the loser is you.

Mushnick writes in a "muckraking style," according to his Wikipedia page, which was clearly written by one of the many people who are confused as to what "muckraking" means. The term "muckraking" comes from early 20th-century journalists like Upton Sinclair, who raked through literal muck to expose deplorable conditions in meatpacking. It does not mean someone sits in a high rise in Manhattan and flings ill-considered muck across the river at Brooklyn. In fact, it means exactly the opposite.

A real muckraker might still have written what Mushnick wrote, but he would have first ventured out to the borough, hunkered down at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues and polled the passers-by on how they felt about his proposed nickname. The looks on the faces of the people who even bothered to stop would make an interesting enough column on their own.

This is all assuming, of course, that we know what the heck Mushnick is talking about. Again, according to my Merriam-Webster's New World Racial Epithets Edition, he wrote (and the copy editors failed to catch) the wrong number of dashes.

He might have intended to suggest "Brooklyn Numerals" in honor of what the players will wear on their jerseys; "Brooklyn Nabokovs" after the Russian novelist who penned Lolita, in a nod to owner Mikhail Prokhorov's Russian heritage; or "Brooklyn Nostrils" in a reference to the body part that gets assaulted by the stench of the New York subway, which the Nets are encouraging fans to ride to games at the Barclays Center.

Of course, nobody would suggest these names, because these names are stupid, as opposed to New York N——s, which dives right past stupid and sinks even deeper.

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