News & Politics

Two Radio Hosts Fired for 'Racist Comments' About the Riots

Two Radio Hosts Fired for 'Racist Comments' About the Riots
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck are “shock jocks” at a small radio station in upstate New York. The two now find themselves unemployed after some questionable comments about the riots made on air during their show.

It started when they began to discuss a viral video of three black men beating up a woman during the riots.


Beck said the men were acting like thugs. “I think. They’re thugs,” he said.

Ray asked, “Were they acting N-wordly?”

The show producer, Pat McMahon, responded: “You can’t say that. What are you doing?”

Ray asked, “Were they acting that way?”

The producer repeated, “You can’t say that.” He also told the pair: “Stop saying thugs. That’s part of the problem.”

The station refers to their comments as “racist.” As more and more words and phrases are discovered to be racist, it’s becoming harder not to say anything offensive. Perhaps it’s best if we all just keep our mouths shut.

Admittedly, that’s hard to do when you host a radio show.

Beck said: “No. It is not. They’re thugs. If you look like a thug and if you act like a thug, and you’ve got three on one and beating up a white woman with a two-by-four, by God, you’re a thug,” Beck said.

Ray added, “And by the way, there are people in the black community who would say they are acting N-word-ly.”

“But they can say that. You can’t say that,” the producer told her.

Now, you’re not supposed to laugh when someone points out that blacks can say certain words and phrases that, if a white person says them, they are considered racist. But that’s the reality. “Racism” as a descriptive has no set meaning or definition. It can mean one thing on a certain day and another thing on another day. And this floating definition of the word “racism” also depends on the race of the individual. Those of a certain race can use a word or phrase that will be considered “racist” while those of another race can use the word or phrase without being adjudged a racist.

As for the words and phrases uttered by Ray and Beck, I had never heard the term “N-word-ly” to describe the action of anyone, but anything that describes the race of a thug must be racist. Why? Because it is.

Alex Yudelson is the mayor’s chief of staff.

Off with their heads! Hang them from the highest yardarm! Boil them in oil!

Sorry for the exaggerations. I suppose it would be alright if they were marooned on a desert island with one canteen and a pistol loaded with two shots.

We can guess why “N-word-ly” is construed as “racist” by those who wish to define it like that. But is “thug” a “racist” word? It’s a great word and I’m not going to stop using it. It comes to us from India, where “thuggee” was the act of waylaying unsuspecting travelers and murdering them. It has nothing to do with race, but I guess black activists got tired of people referring to gangbangers as “thugs” and decided to make the word disappear.

It’s amazing how our definition of what is racist speech is changing. I just wish those who are judging our speech would publish a daily definition of what “racism” means. It would be very helpful and go a long way toward bringing us together.