To "Home Improvement" star Tim Allen, the euphemism "the N-word" is more offensive than the racial slur itself.
"[The phrase] 'the n-word' is worse to me than n—,'" Allen told the Tampa Bay Times last week.
"If I have no intent, if I show no intent, if I clearly am not a racist, then how can 'n—' be bad coming out of my mouth?"
The actor, 60, discussed his feelings about today's racial attitudes in light of the Paula Deen "N-word" scandal that virtually ended the celebrity chef's career last month, and said he doesn’t understand how even in the comedy industry, it's frowned upon.
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"So when Paula Deen [admits her language] they go after her," Allen said. "Now we've gone backwards in the world. So this debate rages in the public, but when it goes out to the comedy world, we're not even allowed to say it, and I gotta refer to it as the N-word, F-word, B-word… it gets all the way down to the line. It gets really intense; we're running backwards."
Allen also explained that he feels there is a double standard in play when it comes to racial epithets.
"I do a movie with Martin Lawrence and pretty soon they’re referring to me, 'hey, my n—'s up.' So I'm the n— if I'm around you guys but 7 feet away, if I said n—, it’s not right," he said. "It's very confusing to the European mind how that works, especially if I've either grown up or evolved or whatever, it literally was growing up in Colorado, with Hispanics and Anglos, that’s all I remember."
Over the weekend, Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson slammed Allen's use of the word, accusing him of trying "to reassume the appropriate privilege of whiteness, which is to dictate the terms of the debate."
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"Look, y’all [white people] invented the n-word. We didn’t invent it. We just co-opted it. We hijacked it," Dyson said on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show Sunday. "We did a carjacking on that word a few decades ago, and now you’re mad because we've made more sexy use of it — some denigration as well. And now you want back in? No, you can’t have back in."
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