Linas Jegelevicius for the BNN
If your English is better than a fifth grader’s, then, obviously, you are aware the bomb that the six-letter «nigg**» can trigger. A highly offensive and derogatory word nowadays it has not been always that way, though. A high-ranking Liberal member of Seimas has stirred uproar after sharing reminiscences- and juggling with the word throughout the story- from a decade-old transatlantic flight, during which she was seated next to an Afro-American.
MP sat «between nigg** and lavatory inflight»
Referring to the old trip in the sitting of Seimas and World Lithuanian Community (WLC) Commission this week, she complained to the participants that on her way from a WLC congress years ago«all the other countries’ parliamentarians» flew in the aircraft sections proper to their status, but she was assigned a seat «between a nigg** and lavatory.»
«Both of them smelled similarly. When the other parliamentarians queried me why I was sitting there and whether I felt sick, I was feeling a big shame for our state,» Dalia Teišerskytė, the Liberal MP, remembered.
Asked by a Delfi.lt journalist whether the six-letter taboo word hurled at the fellow passenger is not demeaning, the 70-year-old Liberal responded she does not have any regrets whatsoever over the usage, but confessed she regrets now for not having smacked the black man then.
«He had pissed his pants, therefore the stench was similar. Besides, he was inebriated, flatulent and letting rip. He would put his head on my shoulder and was neighing like a jade. Is that decent?..I needed to stand up and land a blow to his nose. I regret for not having done it. Regardless of whether here’s an Afro-American or Afro-Parisian, no man has right to behave in such a way sitting next to an elderly woman,» the politician pouted.
Liberal scoffed at LGBT in the past
A couple years ago, the controversial Liberal drew much criticism and contempt from many fellow liberals after going on a ranting tirade against homosexuals.
Then she got away with rebuke from the Liberal Movement bosses and argued that the party is open for «different opinions», even on hot social issues as LGBT rights.
Cornered up by journalists over this week’s remarks, the liberal went on defense, bringing up some historical parallels to justify the usage of the obscenity.
«So tell me who are they? Are they called Afro-Americans in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin?» Or in Tom Soyer’s book? Or how does the world call them? I’d say this: let’s learn to respect ourselves and be respectable Lithuanians. On the other hand, it’s all about a single sentence: «I sat next to a Negr* on the plane.» Is it something that has to stir uproar?» the Lithuanian parliamentarian wondered, adding, «Lithuanians are called different names, too. «Litovcai», for example, and other names. So what a big deal?»
Investigation is required
Angered by the racist remarks, Social Democrat Juras Požėla addressed Lithuanian Parliament’s Commission of Ethics and Procedures, asking it to investigate whether Teišerskytė has not violated the Statute of Seimas, as well as the principles of ethics, morale and decency.
Denouncing the slur, Lithuania’s Tolerant Youth Association, a NGO, and Social Democratic Youth Union staged a gathering against racism and xenophobia in Lithuania.
«Youth invites politicians and society to respond to any manifestation of racism in Lithuania. By the irresponsible statements Ms Dalia Teišerskytė not only discredits the Seimas, but entire Lithuania, too. Therefore, the representatives of youth demand resignation of Dalia Teišerskytė from the capacity of deputy chairwoman of Seimas’ Women Parliamentary Group,» statement signed by the protesters says.
Slur cost minister post
Following the ruckus, Lithuania’s Liberal Movement has made a statement that the party is withdrawing the candidacy of Dalia Teišerskytė to the post of Minister of Culture, given the partly will participate in the formation of a new ruling coalition after the parliamentary elections in October 2016.
«We are distancing ourselves from the public remarks by Dalia Teišerskytė, which are incompatible with the Liberals’ core values. We stand for respect for each person irrespective of the ethnicity, gender, colour of skin, faith or beliefs. We regret and apologize over the statements in the public. I don’t see Dalia Teišerskytė anymore as our possible minister of culture,» statement by the Liberal Movement chairman Eligijus Masiulis reads.
Not the first to stir the pot
«Unfortunately, Dalia Teišerskytė is not the first one to choose racist and xenophobic terms in the language,» Birutė Sabatauskaitė, chief of Lithuania’s Human Rights Center, emphasized speaking to «Žinių radijas.»
«One obviously could not expect such remarks from a person who travels a lot and who has many possibilities to travel. If she were complaining about a person’s behaviour inflight and sharing her apprehensions afterwards, then they would be nothing out of extraordinary and many would relate to them. Instead she has chosen a very blunt and open form of racism, comparing person of a certain skin colour with the lavatory nearby. And this makes it very offensive,» the human rights watchdog said.
Lithuanian MPs are victims of frugality
Meanwhile, Marija Aušrinė Pavilionienė, another outstanding human rights supporter in Lithuania, was dismissive of Teišerskytė’s nature of terminology: «For me, the main story line in her remembrance is that Lithuanian parliamentarians sometimes find themselves in very awkward situations because of the saving. Usually economy class tickets are provided and maybe some colleagues end up in uncomfortable situations when seated.»
The MP noted among other things that «an unpleasant odour» sometimes emanates from «a morally broken man» or «Seimas members who spread it because of their limited views.»
«I’d not blame Teišerskytė for racism. She appears not to know the connotation of the word,» Pavilionienė told Lithuanian media.
Wikipedia explanation for all
Wikipedia explains that in the modern English language, the word «nigger» is an ethnic slur, usually directed at black people.
«The word originated as a neutral term referring to people with black skin…It was often used disparagingly, and by the mid-twentieth century, particularly in the United States, its usage became unambiguously pejorative, a racist insult. Accordingly, it began to disappear from popular culture, and its continued inclusion in classic works of literature has sparked controversy,» the popular e-dictionary explains.
In the contemporary United States and United Kingdom, using the word is taboo, and it is often replaced with the euphemism «the N-word». «Nigga» is, however, sometimes used among African Americans in a non-derogatory sense or as a term of endearment.
With the uproar, MP Dalia Teišerskytė posted on Facebook an apology, saying that, referring to an unpleasant event in her life, i.e. the memorable flight, she used« improper words.»
«I am sincerely regretting it and apologize all who may have been offended the inappropriate language. Sometimes, in certain situations, we are engulfed by human anger and despair. I am not in any way prejudiced against black people, as well as any people belonging to other race. I am deeply sorrow if anyone has conjured up such an impression,» the Lithuanian parliamentarian insisted.
Online posters approve «nigg**» term
However, the web has been awash with posts supporting Teišerskytė. «Hell, how racist the word can be when yet at school all of us learnt of these races: Negroid, which representative is negro, Europid, whose representative is European…Liberalism, i.e. neo-communism, is a very severe and untreatable psychic disorder,» a post characterising the nature of the majority posts read.