Tasmanian Senator, Eric Abetz has come under fire for referring to Justice Thomas Clarence as the ‘N’ word in an interview on Sydney’s radio station 2UE on Thursday with Justin Smith. In the interview, Abetz was talking about same – sex marriageHis argument was that opposing same – sex marriage wasn’t the same as being racist.

Whether the term is offensive takes a bit of explaining. According to the ‘African American Registry’, the term was of Spanish and Portuguese origin, literally meaning ‘black’. Until the 1970’s it was an acceptable term to use  the term until the 1970’s. Now, as a rule of thumb, African Americans born before 1945 are more likely to accept the use of the term more than someone born years after the end of World War II. Other places like Latin Amrica and Europe have numerous acceptable and unacceptable terms when referring to people of African origin. To get a more comprehensive history and sociology of racial terms around the world, read it here.

Now, I’ve got to say, I have little sympathy for Senator Abetz. I can’t for the life of me think that anyone wouldn’t have known that when he used the term, it was going to blow up in his face, especially the way the majority of Australian mainstream media currently is. Conservatives are in enough of a strain as it is. It doesn’t help them if they put their foot in it. Did Abetz mean to use the ‘N’ word as derogatory? No, probably not. Still didn’t make it a wise move on his part though, in my opinion.