Our teacher, Mrs. C, who seemed 80, but was probably in her mid 50s, ran over as quickly as her large frame could take her, and she separated the two, saying in her voice that sounded like she chain smoked two cartons a day, "what is going on here?"
Jeff, with rage in his six year old goth eyes, looked at the other kid, pointed at him, and said "that kid called me a f**er."
My already pale teacher seemed to go translucent and I heard a few gasps, and suddenly I felt chilled to the bone. Finally the color came back into her face and she yanked Jeff out of the classroom in a way that would have had lawyers lining up to sue today. He was going to the principal's office, presumably to be beaten to death with the thick oak paddle the principal was rumored to have, complete with half dollar size swiss cheese holes specifically designed to maximize speed and pain to the recipient. Surely if we saw Jeff again, his ass would be hanging off of his bellybutton.
At the tender age of six, I had never heard the F bomb in any context. My parents were fluent in PG profanity, but the F word was never uttered. Ever. And certainly not in front of six-year-old me. And the Yellow Webster's Elementary dictionaries we had didn't have a definition. (Although you could find "ass" and "hell", so don't think I wasn't looking.) I wasn't stupid enough to ask my parents what it meant, since it was clear from the usage, the anger of Jeff, and the oxygen that was sucked out of the room that the word was a BAD! word and not to be used.
Which brings me to Kristi Capel, the Cleveland morning anchor who, at a loss for words to describe the music of Lady Gaga, decided it was best to go with a racist term.
Because of my hope and faith in humanity, I can accept that Capel's gaffe was unintentional and she had no idea what she was saying.
But does that let her off the hook?
Ms. Capel didn't make up the word via random syllables, so she had to have heard it somewhere, and frequently enough for it to pull it out of her brain to use to describe Gaga's music. Is it okay that she a) never connected the word with any sort of context in the times she heard it, b) never realized it was inappropriate, and c) never bothered to look up a word that she didn't know the meaning of it?
A television news person should be perceptive, curious, and conscious of the world around her. While it is easy to believe from Capel's humongous gaffe that she had no idea what she said, that's precisely why her employer should consider finding someone else to take her place.
And maybe she can take that time to brush up her reporter skills and find out whatever happened to Jeff, because I'm pretty sure he was paddled to death.