Super sensitivity

Even before the track was finished, someone called in during today’s show to express concern about my airing Gil Scott-Heron’s “Whitey on the Moon.” This piece is a bitter and clever commentary on the disparities of wealth in this society and on our government’s spending priorities. While the caller agreed that it’s important to raise these issues, he considered the term Whitey inflammatory– not to himself, but to some people. He challenged me to consider what would happen if I aired a piece using an inflammatory word aimed at any other group of people. He suggested that we’re living in a time of hyper political correctness and super-sensitivity.
I was caught a bit off guard, but tried to reason with the caller. I, too, find the piece provocative, but I don’t consider the term Whitey personally offensive, nor is it the crux of the poem.
Scott-Heron makes a clever, strong statement. I told the caller that he would hear other strong statements during the course of the program, and asked him to consider the piece in the context of the whole show. During a few minutes of conversation and finding some common grounds for agreement, we thanked each other for the chat.
Poetry and spoken word cannot afford to be polite, bland, and safe. What would be the point?

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