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by Peter Moskos

May 29, 2013

"It's Torching" -- A Traincrash of Speech

There's a a video on youtube of a guy and his friend (and baby, in babyseat in the back seat) driving toward a fire and then explosion of a train blowing up just outside Baltimore (don't worry... according to authorities it's just "toxic" but nothing to worry about).

So I'm watching this video thinking, "These guys are likely candidates for The Darwin Award."

Regardless (and these guys seemed to survive just fine), I also couldn't help but notice how these two were speaking to each other. They were speaking, well, the way these two African-American guys speak to each other while stupidly driving towards a cool fire (and subsequent explosion). I'm not here to judge. They're probably very nice guys.

The Baltimore Sun has about 12 videos of recordings and people describing what they saw. Many of them are worth watching just for the great Baltimore accents. I love Baltimore accents.

But my point isn't to make of accents or the way people speak. I couldn't care less. I like when people talk like where they're from. I think people should talk like where they're from. (I wish I had more of a Chicago accent; but I'm from Evanston and my parents were too middle class, I suppose.) One time I asked a white guy in the police academy (who had a thick Bawl'mer accent) why he was making fun of how black people in our class talked. I thought it was ironic because to my ears his accent was more strange sounding than ghettoese (more politely known as African-American Vernacular English). 

My point is this: there are about a dozen videos on the Baltimore Sun website. And this is the only one where the audio has been silenced. It's the same one. These guys weren't hamming it up for the camera. It wasn't just that the "bad" words were bleeped (and by my count there 20 in two minutes, not including "damn"). The entire audio is just silenced. To rough for tender ears, I suppose.

Or is it just too black?

What does it say about our culture (or the media) that the way some Americans speak in casual private conversation--Americans whose ancestors have been in this country and speaking English longer than my family--still can't be broadcast for public consumption?


bacchys said...

I think you've struck upon the wrong motive. It's not that their speech "can't be" released for public consumption. It *won't be* lest the media organization be accused of peddling racial stereotypes to denigrate the race of the speakers.

PCM said...

I think you're right. But the end result is still the same.

Batman said...

Well, media organization has unwritten rules to follow in order to avoid unnecessary litigations. But in the age of the world wide web, you might be a little over worried. Think David and Goliath~