MICHAEL DAVIS: If it walks like a duck…
In this article I use a variation of the ‘n’ word. If this offends you then stop reading now. The last thing I want is 50 comments from people who are offended by the word. So before you get your panties in a bunch, stop reading. You have been warned.
When did we become a nation of sheep? At what point did we decide that if enough people say something is good then it’s good? If enough people decide it’s bad then it’s bad? If enough people decide it’s hip then it’s hip?
Or in this case: if enough people decide that a man obeying a police officer’s command can be shot for doing what the officer said, then that police officer is not guilty of attempted murder.
Regardless of what you think, do you join the flock?
Last week a police officer named Ivory Webb was acquitted in a San Bernardino County California courtroom for shooting a man for getting up after telling the man to get up. No. I was not in the courtroom. No, I do not know all the facts. No, I was not at the scene. I just watched the videotape. The videotape, which CLEARLY shows Webb telling the man to get up.
CLEARLY TELLING HIM TO GET UP.
When the man goes to get up (AS HE WAS TOLD) he was shot three times. I have no idea what went on in that courtroom that resulted in this police officer getting off. I just know WHAT I SAW.
In my VERY first article for ComicMix I wrote this: Now a days you can get caught on videotape robbing and pistol whipping a little old lady in a wheel chair while she was feeding her kitten and not go to jail. All you have to do is blame it on your Dad who was never home or never told you he loved you.
Well Mr. Webb’s jury blamed it on the man who was shot – one juror saying ‘If he had just shut up and listened then none of this would have happened.”
Well, from what I saw when he was told to get up, he did listen, and he was shot.
OK, as I said I don’t know what went on in the courtroom so let’s assume that the jury was correct in their verdict. I still know what I heard: the cop said “get up” and then shot the guy when he did.
I know what I heard; I know what I saw.
A few years ago I heard a rumor that Donald Duck called Daffy Duck “A doggone stubborn nigga” in the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I thought this was simply BS. I had seen the film and did not notice that and simply dismissed it. Fast forward to last week when I noticed that my TiVo had recorded Who Framed Roger Rabbit. While I was watching it this time I clearly heard Donald Duck call Daffy Duck a “A dog gone stubborn nigga.”
I thought I was nuts!
So I played it again and again…and again. Then I turned the TV off, shut my eyes and considered that I must be in the Twilight Zone. I then turned the TV back on and there on my TiVo menu was Who Framed Roger Rabbit. OK, it was still there so I knew I was not in The Twilight Zone but there was still a chance that I was in the Outer Limits so I went back to the scene –16 minutes into the movie – and played it again. Much to my surprise the scene was still there!!!
I have seen too many movies and read to many comic books so I know there was still a chance that I was crazy. I mean how could this be? Donald Duck using the ‘N’ word and NO ONE making a big deal out of this?
Come on!! I must be out of my mind! Now I started to get paranoid. I felt that people were watching me. I mean Donald Duck using the ‘N’ word? This is the bigger than Don Imus, bigger than Michael Richards!
Right about then I was sure that Disney had dispatched their assassins and it was just a matter of time before I was never heard from again. How could I discover this world shaking event and not be taken out?
No. I was being silly. I mean there is no way that Donald Duck could have said that and it stay buried for 20 years! I told myself that this was just my imagination and went to sleep. That night I had a dream. I dreamt that Donald Duck was meeting with Al Sharpton in a televised attempt to explain his comments.
Al: How can you justify saying the ‘N’ word?
Don: It was a joke. That’s what I do. I make people laugh.
Al: There’s nothing funny about the ‘N’ word.
Don: I know that now.
Al: What will you do to make amends?
Don: I’m in rehab and I’m being real nice to all the Black Disney characters.
Al: WHAT Black Disney characters??
Don: Hey. I don’t run the company, I’m a duck!
Al: Stop spitting on me!
This ordeal was getting to me. I went to my computer and Googled the so-called Donald racist remark. There are reams of back and forth on this. I was not crazy. It was true…or was it? I read dozens of accounts of people who were trying to explain the remark away. One popular opinion is that Donald said “Nitwit.”
I have been living with the ‘n’ word my entire life. I have NEVER mistaken nitwit for ‘nigga,’ Now that I think of it-that’s a great way for rappers to get endorsements, or to get away with what their songs have been saying.
Kanye West: I’m not saying she’s a gold digger, but she ain’t messing with no broke NITWIT.
As I have mentioned in this column many times-I grew up in the projects of Rockaway Queens. I have seen many a beat down. Heck, at one particular party I was jumped because someone was mad at my sister. I have seen people shot on more than one occasion. Shot for stupid things, shot for the slightest disrespect. In my entire life I have never seen anyone get even a dirty look for using the word, nitwit.
There is no way I could ever confuse the word nitwit with nigga.
So I know what I heard 16 minutes into Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Donald Duck said "nigga." I know what I heard.
I needed more confirmation. So I called some friends of mine. I played the tape for three different people. All heavyweights in the entertainment world. They all said the same thing…Donald Duck said “nigga.”
I played the tape repeatedly, and we all came to the same conclusion. Donald Duck said “nigga.” I may be crazy; hey I’ve been called that by quite a few people but know what I heard.
Now let me be very clear. I don’t think that The Walt Disney Company is racist. If anything, they have a problem with the two-parent household. I mean, how many animated movies must they do where one of the parents is dead? What is up with that? As I was saying, I don’t think Disney is a raciest company. In fact they are still the leader in children’s entertainment and I have a great deal of respect for them.
But I know what I heard.
When Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in 1988 it was a different time in America. The ‘n’ word as bad as it is, simply did not carry the same impact as it does now. In fact I can remember an episode of The Jeffersons when Mr. Jefferson yelled at Mr. Jefferson, “Nigga Please!” And that was the 70s!
Maybe the guys working on the film thought it would be funny. Maybe they were just goofing around. I don’t know why it’s in there, but it is in there. There is no public outcry and as far as I know Disney has never addressed this. Truth be told, I could care less about Donald Duck using the word. Have you seen the Warner Bros. cartoons from the 40s? Those were hard-core in terms of depictions of black people. Donald Duck using the word in this aspect has a bit of a silver lining. If Mr. Duck called Daffy a “nigga” does that not mean that Daffy Duck is black? Assuming that Donald meant the word as a racist statement.
Hey, if Warner Bros. wants to give the Black community an icon like Daffy Duck. I’ll take him. It’s not like we get a lot of icons from the major studios.
My real problem with this is why do some of us deny or become swayed by public opinion when YOU know what you heard or saw. I’m amazed that there are so many people who doubt this. You should see some of the explanations on the net as to what Donald is really saying.
I don’t know much but here’s what I do know. If you are shot in the head, you are shot in the head. Period.
Why you were shot, how you were shot will not change the fact that you were shot. In this crazy world we now explain away everything. We bring so much information to an issue that the facts become murky at best. So much so that an icon like Donald Duck can say “nigga” and we simply debate it away. We debate everything away; black and white is now a disgusting shade of gray.
I don’t like gray. It’s an ugly color. It’s the color of indecision and no commitment. I have faith in what I see, what I hear, what I believe. Yes I can be wrong but I start from a place where there is a commitment to something. If I am wrong it’s my belief that brought me there, not yours, not the masses who go with the flow. That’s not me. I’m not that guy.
In the case of the police shooting and Donald Duck – I know what I heard, I know what I saw.
There is an old saying. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.
Quack, you silly nitwit.
Michael Davis is a comics creator and the founder of the Guardian Line series of comics as well as being a television producer and writer. He was a co-founder of Milestone Comics and his artwork has appeared in Wasteland, Green Arrow: Shado, Green Hornet and The Question, among others.
Artwork copyright their respective legitimate copyright owners. All Rights Reserved.