Friday, January 06, 2006

Coonass

I am not offended by the term coonass. Of course, I'm speaking as a coonass.

I bring this up because of a post on The Volokh Conspiracy about a woman who found the term racially offensive. According to a 12/25/2005 post on Volokh:
This reminds me of a case I wrote about in You Can't Say That!, in which a black woman won a large settlement after receiving a joke certificate designating her an 'honorary coonass'. She thought this was a racial slur, when it's actually a mildly derogatory slang word for 'Cajun.' The Coonass case was a bit more egregious, however, in that the complainant in that case actually won a jury verdict; the complainant's in the 'Ride Them Hard' case won a settlement, apparently largely because the school district's lawyer was thought to have mishandled the investigation, and the distict was afraid this would make them look bad before a jury. (Also, the 'coonass' case was decided in federal court, where it should have been easily dismissed by the judge under current hostile environment doctrine, even if it was a slur; New Jersey, in contrast, allows hostile environment doctrine, even if it was a slur; New Jersey, in contrast, allows hostile environment complaints based on a single remark, making much more difficult to get a case dismissed.) Regardless, this might just win my vote for the most ridiculous case of the year.

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