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100-Person Poll: Bad Words

What’s offensive? Can language be banned? A random poll at Union Square.

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Do you consider yourself:
White…. 43
Black…. 23
Latino…. 15
Asian ….6
Middle Eastern…. 3
Other…. 8
Straight ….67
Bisexual…. 10
Gay…. 8
No answer…. 15

A Westchester principal recently ordered three high-school juniors to not use the word vagina when reading from The Vagina Monologues at a school event. Was he right?
Yes…. 13
No…. 83
Don’t know…. 4

Isaiah Washington recently apologized and went to rehab after calling one of his Grey’s Anatomy co-stars a “faggot.” Do you think he can be cured?
Yes…. 23 (0 gay/bi)
No…. 12 (3 gay/bi)
Of what?.... 57 (13 gay/bi)
Don’t know….8 (2 gay/bi)

Pundit Ann Coulter recently said that she couldn’t talk about John Edwards because “it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot.” Was she being:
Funny…. 27 (2 gay/bi)
Offensive…. 37 (8 gay/bi)
Insightful…. 3 (1 gay/bi)
As crazy as she always is…. 15 (5 gay/bi)
I have no idea…. 18 (2 gay/bi)

Eminem once said he used the F-word to mean something besides gay men. Can it?
Yes…. 45 (7 gay/bi)
No…. 20 (4 gay/bi)
Either way it’s offensive…. 25 (5 gay/bi)
Don’t know…. 10 (2 gay/bi)
Other meanings: “Bundle of sticks.” “Coward.” “Dumbass.” “Counterpoint for the word bitch.”

The City Council recently passed measures banning the use of the word nigger. Can you ban a word?
Yes…. 10 (4 black)
No…. 72 (16 black)
Don’t know…. 18 (3 black)

Would you have voted for the ban?
Yes…. 18 (7 black)
No….65 (12 black)
Don’t know…. 17 (4 black)

What is an appropriate punishment for saying the N-word?
“Taking a black-history class.” “Washing your mouth out with soap.” “Fifteen push-ups.” “Walk around with a white sheet over your head in Harlem.” “A stern talking-to.” “A fine.” “Jail.” “Rehab? I’m joking.” “A trip to the Supreme Court. Long live the First Amendment.” “Caning.” “Hit the bong.”

Who can use the N-word and not be offensive?
Nobody…. 39 (8 black)
Black people…. 28 (9 black)
If your black friends are okay with it…. 17 (4 black)
No answer…. 16 (2 black)

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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