Charlie Murphy on Racism, The ‘N-Word,’ and Political Correctness
Charlie Murphy, Eddie’s funny brother, has some interesting thoughts on racism and free speech in an interview with Esquire. The language is, naturally, not safe for work.
ES: Are there any subjects that shouldn’t be joked about?
ES: How about rape? Daniel Tosh had some problems when—
ES: Rape jokes are cool?
CM: In true comedy, there is no subject that should be off-limits. When you start making lines in the stand like that, you’re flirting with censorship. You can’t be like, “You can only do it this way.” Freedom of speech means freedom of speech, not “Say what you want, just don’t say nothing I don’t like.”
ES: How about when Michael Richards screamed the N-word during a stand-up set? Is that freedom of speech?
CM: Here are my feelings on that. There’s a phoniness that’s going on right now in America in regards to the so-called N-word. I don’t say “N-word”; I say nigger. There’s no such thing as the N-word. If you’re saying the N-word, you’re still thinking nigger. You might as well say it. Say nigger. That’s what you mean.
ES: I don’t think I can.
CM: Say it, man. That’s what you’re meaning to say.
ES: I seriously can’t. It’s like making me walk on hot coals.
CM: What Michael Richards did — was it offensive? Yeah, it was. But do I believe he should’ve been shut down from comedy for doing it? No. Because I’ve heard everybody do the same kind of jokes that Michael Richards did. Everybody talks about race. If you go to the comedy club and hang out, you’re gonna hear race jokes, man.
ES: After Obama got re-elected, Twitter was overrun with racist claptrap. Did you follow any of that?
CM: Yeah. It got pretty nasty.
ES: Were you shocked?
CM: Not at all. I’m shocked that Obama got re-elected. Hell, I’m shocked he got elected in the first place. But I think his re-election just proved that the racist voice is on the way out. Those people, that point of view — it’s dying out, man. The young people growing up right now — they’re not part of that bullshit. They don’t say shit like “I don’t like you ’cause you’re black. I don’t like you ’cause you’re white.”
ES: Well, some of them do. A few of those racist tweets came from teens.
CM: It doesn’t matter. They’re not the leaders of their generation. This is what people have to realize about racists. They’re not smart. The moment you demonstrate that you’re a bigot, I know you’re not very smart. You’re a robot. Bigotry is a taught behavior. You’re not born a bigot. You’re carrying on the tradition of whatever ignorant motherfuckers taught you that shit. You’re a fucking robot. It’s crazy to worry about what a fucking robot has to say. They’ll be gone soon enough.
ES: That’s actually the most reassuring thing I’ve heard yet about the racist response to Obama.
The rest of the interview, which isn’t political, is worth a read as well.