Tag Archives: racism

The Taboo List – A true story

The following is a completely true story.

*

“Ross-uh” said my co-worker quietly, tapping me on the shoulder. I spun around in my chair and tried to smile.

“Hi” I said. I’d given up trying to remember her name.

“Yeah, hi. Uhm, I is uh hab-uh a job por you” she said, smiling.

“Okay” I said. I pulled the head phones out of my iPhone and stopped Metallica screaming at her from their tiny little speakers.

“You know is, uh, these days is-uh, Smart-uh TB. Okay?”

“Eh…yeah.”

“Good. Okay, okay. You need to uh, changey the system. We is uh write-uh the taboo words for Smart TB.”

“Okay.”

I had no idea what she was talking about. But that was normal. I’ve been in Korea for long enough to know that trying to work out what people are trying to tell you in their mangled ‘Eng-uh-lish-ee’ will make you bleed from the ears. I’d gotten pretty good at smiling and nodding and not getting fired, so I just did it again.

“Okay good” she said, smiling. She handed me a piece of paper. There was a mixture of printed Korean and penciled Eng-uh-lish-ee on the page. I took it from her and tried to smile again.

That smile burst across my face as soon as I saw what was written on the page.

*

I quit teaching English here about a month ago. Since then I’ve been working for a company that writes the dialogue for a new form of Smart TV (Smart-uh TB in Korean). I’m told that this is the future. Within the next year the first remote control-less TVs will hit the market and will set the trend for the future. You will be able to order your TV to do things from sofa. But only if you’re American or Canadian. Scottish people are not allowed to talk to technology yet.

I got this job because I told them that I was a writer. And I suppose I am, to an extent. I write as a hobby and hope to make it a career one day. But I also got the job on the strength of my fake American accent, which is, if do say so myself, fucking good. I have fooled many Americans over the last few months and I seem to be getting closer and closer to becoming fluent. I think with an American accent now.

But in this job I must write commands and responses for both the human user and the robot TV. I do this for eight hours a day, writing the phrase “change the channel” in as many different ways as possible. It’s mind-numbing, pencils-up-your-nose-and-smash-your-face-off-the-fucking-desk boring. But I’m out of the classroom and I can go for a cigarette whenever I want, so it’s fine for now.

But after a week of writing this monotonous dialogue and thinking about quitting every minute, I was given a very special job. I was chosen from a pool of four foreigners as the person most qualified to write the ‘Taboo List’. This is the database of crass, sexual, violent and racist language that the TV isn’t allowed to process. If someone commands the TV to write or search for any of the phrases or words on the taboo list, they will not be processed. I don’t know why I was selected as being the perfect person for the job, but they clearly saw something in me. In me they must have seen a man of the world, who’s Scottish heritage (I tell the Koreans I’m half Scottish) and metrosexuality made him the ideal candidate for the job of listing every racist, sexual and violent phrase that has ever been uttered.

Finally, I had been given the job I was born to do.

*

I looked at the piece of paper in my hands. My eyes were immediately drawn to the word “pussy” written under the “Sexual Language” section. I looked back at her. She smiled again and pushed her hair behind her ears. She looked so naive, almost genderless.

“You understand?” she asked.

“I think so.”

“Maybe, you is uh, liting the sex-uh talk. Uh, like-uh..”

She stood and made little circles with her finger as she tried to force the words out. She wanted me to help her out. I just waited.

“Suck my pussy thing.”

My eyes exploded. I tried my hardest to keep the smile back, but I couldn’t stop the laughter in my eyes. My middle aged Korean boss had just said ‘suck my pussy’ to me in the middle of our office. I looked around. The other members of staff had stopped working and started leaning over the backs of their chairs to listen in.

“Maybe, kiss my pussy. You understand?” she asked.

I covered my face with my hand and laughed silently into my palm. I composed myself and looked back at her.

“I think so” I said.

“Good. Maybe the racist thing too. Okay?”

I looked back at the page. She had written the word “nigger” and underlined it twice. I looked back at her. She was smiling. I looked back at the word “nigger” again. It’s not a word I see written down very often. It seems more offensive when it’s written in pencil and underlined. Twice.

“You is uh, maybe, liting the racist hip-hop thing. And the sex-uh. And maybe some killing and fighting thing. Okay?”

I looked back at the word “nigger” again. I noticed the words “Jungle Fever” and “Dirty Jew” written next to it. The whole thing had lost it’s fun a little. I looked back to her. She was still smiling.

“Okay. I’ll do it now” I said.

She gave me a big thumbs up and walked out of the office. The other girls kept looking at me over the backs of their chairs. They were smiling from ear to ear. I didn’t really know how to feel.

*

I took a deep breath, and started typing.

  • Cracker
  • Nigger
  • Kike
  • Gook
  • Spick
  • Gypsy

I stopped and looked at the screen. Those words all looked really sinister. As I read over them I realized that I was such a spineless liberal that I had tried to be equally racist to everyone. I felt quite good about myself. I tried to keep this up for a few minutes before I my mind ran dry. I started trawling the internet for inspiration. I’m sorry to report that black people get it worse than anyone else. White people get off pretty easily.

There were seven sections in all, and I left the “Sex Section” until the end. I had been instructed to make sentences using some sexual terminology. I’m going to give you some of my choice sentences. There were 138 in total, but I feel that that is too many to post on here. I would like to post them all for the sake of emphasis, but I don’t want the funnier ones to get lost in the mess of bizzare sexual acts and definitions that exist on the Internet.

So, without further adieu, here are some of my favorites, with some explanations where considered necessary:

  • Sorry sir, I’m not into fist fucking.
  • Give me a foot job, love.
  • Cock fingering sounds painful.
  • Give me your poontang.
  • She did a queef.
  • I’m getting old, I need an Arab strap.
  • Show me your Spam Purse.
  • Do you want my love sausage?
  • I produce a lot of sperm.
  • I went to a bukkake party last night. I had no idea that’s what ‘bukkake’ meant.
  • She wanted to give me a Cleveland Steamer, but that’s where I drew the line.
  • I think that makes me gay for pay.
  • Bitch snowballed me.
  • I can’t come to the phone right now, I’m flicking my bean. Please leave a message after the tone.

As you can see, they started to get ridiculous towards the end. I couldn’t keep going in the sexual way that I had intended to. It didn’t matter in the end. I just needed to put the words into a sentence. In my head, I had no other option but to make them weird and funny.

I gave this list to my boss at the end of the day and she was shocked to find that it was 363 lines long. We haven’t looked one another in the eye since.

Glossary of Sexual Terminology

Snowball – the act of ejaculating in someone’s mouth and then kissing them afterwards.

Bukkake – where a group of men will all ejaculate on a girl’s face.

Spam purse – a gross terminology for a vagina.

Cleveland Steamer – when someone defecates on their partner’s chest.

Arab Strap – a penis ring that focuses the blood flow to the penis and helps a gentleman maintain an erection.

Queef – when a vagina breaks wind.

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Freedom Fighters – Part One

Foreword

I should explain before you start reading the story: this is written entirely in Scots. I have never done anything as extreme as this before and I’m sure that you probably haven’t read much that is as extreme in its slang and dialect as this. But if you’re familiar with Irvine Welsh then this shouldn’t be a problem. You just have to get the accent in your head. But I’m quite fond of this story as it is about my home town. So, if you feel like giving it a go, I have put a glossary of terms at the bottom in the comments section.

I should also point out that it’s fucking long. But you know, sometimes things are long. And it is very heavy on bigotry and sectarianism. You should know that these opinions are not my own. But perhaps you’ll get a peak into the side of Scotland rarely experienced unless you’re really a part of it.

I hope that you enjoy it x

*

Ah’d bin meaning tae take the boy oot fir a pint fir few weeks. He’d bin doon. No his normal chatty self. The cheeky wee cunt could talk the spokes aff a wheel when he got goin. But no recently. That wee lassie Mary had geed him the elbow and he was feelin’ bluer than Eric Clapton’s back catalogue. Ah had nuthin oan and he’d just finished his exams. Ah thought ah’d dae some of that father an son bonding stuff ye hear so much about. At least gie it a fuckin’ try fir once.

“Fancy a pint?” ah said, no lookin’ doon from ma paper. Ah had made ma way back fae the fitbaw and was at the horses. Ah always lost interest in the paper when ah got tae the horses. The front three pages and the back three pages were all ah gave a fuck aboot these days.

“What?” he said.

“Pint? Roon the Clachan like?” ah asks again. There was only wan pub tae go tae in this fuckin’ village, but ah never got oot the habit of specifyin’ which pub we went tae.

“Aye” he said, like he wasnae bothered but he’d go if ah wanted tae. Ah didnae drink roon the pub durin’ the week these days. Usually just hod a couple a cans an a wee Bob Marley in front ah the telly. But we needed tae have a chat. And ah didnae want his fuckin’ mother walkin’ in oan us talkin’ man’s stuff like. She’d bin gettin’ oan ma fuckin’ wick recently.

Ah folded ma paper and sat it doon on the couch. Ah looked at the boy. He was still lookin’ doon. Ah could see him watchin’ that bloody phone ah his. Fuckin’ thing was a new limb for kids these days. That’s whit evolution brought us! A fuckin’ smart phone attached to a bunch of fuckin’ idiots. Ah pulled maself up and stood above him. He wis taller than me these days but ah reckon ah needed tae be the big man in this situation. So ah looked doon oan him.

“Come on then” ah said.

He sighed and stood up. Ah watched him grow up in hof a second, gettin’ taller and taller till he passed me. He probably had another couple of years left in him. Ah reckon ah knew how he felt then. A big man growin’ too big for that cage he wis kept in.

We walked tae the front door. He put his coat oan. Ah cud feel ma knees crackin’. Ah sighed as ah dragged oot the wheelchair and unfolded it. Ah heard the auld thing squeak. Ah fuckin’ hated that fuckin’ thing. But ah couldnae leave the hoos wi oot it. No in this village ah fuckin’ spiers and liars. The last hing this wobbly family needed was a knock fae the social tellin’ me ah wis getting’ done fir fraud. That’d be the death ay us. But the wee man knew the score. Even if he didnae like the rules, he still played the game. And ah could nivir knock him fir that.

*

“So how’d you reckon yer exams went son?” ah said to him, takin’ a wee sip of that shite they pass off as ale in Clachan. Ah wis sure ah could taste some ah Donny Dribble’s dribble in it.

“Fine. I think.”

Fuck me. Come on son, ah thought. Give me mare than that tae work wi!?

“Aye?” ah said, lookin’ roon at the clientele in misery HQ. Each wan eh them, like a big drip a water.

“Aye” he said.

We both sat there fir a minute. He wis lookin’ at that bloody phone. Waitin’ fir it tae ring. Ah didnae get offended though. Ah knew it wasnae me that wis makin’ him like that. He wis wantin’ a text fae that wee bird. Ah’d been there. In ma day it was a chap oan the door, or a shout up tae the windae. Times huv changed pal.

Ah looked at him lookin’ all sad. His hair wis growin’ oot and he wis lookin’ less and less like every other cunt around here every day. His mother said that that wis his father’s doin’. Ah knew that fine and well. When his mother met me ah had hair doon tae ma arse and a beard tae ma tits. He couldnae grow a beard yit, but ah’m sure he wid wan day. But even as he sat there, wi a pint an a fag, ah could see him growin’ afore ma eyes. He reminded me a me when ah was like him.

“Ah know what it’s like son.” ah says, eventually breakin’ that silence, sittin’ ma pint ah dribble doon and rollin’ up a fag.

“Like whit’s like?” he says, starin’ at the phone that naebiddy’s callin’.

“Tae feel like ye dinnae belong.”

He looked at us. He swept that hair oot his eyes. Ah could see ah’d gone a bit deeper than ah’d been afore. He wis just sittin’ in thought. Ah wis just gonnae let him stew fir a minute. Hink about it. That father son stuff is surely somethin’ boy.

“Ah wis an ootsider here. Ah still um. There are some people in this village that willnae let ye forget that. Ah came here in 1974. 1970 fuckin’ 4 son. That’s a long time tae be stuck in a shit tip like this.”

He smiled and nodded a wee bit. The big wee man knew the score.

“Ah came tae this village as a Catholic hippy fae the city. Fae Glesga no less. Embiddy commin fae Glesga tae this place has tae huv somethin’ tae say fir themselves. Cause they hate ye. Just fir that alone. Of course, bein’ a Catholic here back then wis like bein’ a Jew in a fuckin’ mosque. We’re talkin’ about Achna-fuckin’-fachel here son.” Ah says, hammerin’ ma point hame by hittin’ ma glass doon on the table. He looks at us. Ah knew he understood, a bit. There were mair blue noses here than on the Smurf’s fuckin’ Christmas album. But times hud changed. He wid nivir really know whit it wis like tae be hated fir a choice yir parents parents parents made hunners a years ago.

“They didnae want us here. This bar used tae huv a sign outside sayin’ “Fenian free since 1953”. ‘53 wis the year the quarry closed an all the Catholics left. The locals made it pretty clear they didnae want oor types here. And oan tap eh bein’ a Catholic, ah hud long scraggly hair and a big daft beard!? It wis like ah wis tryin’ tae make em hate me. Ah hink a little part of me always will.” Ah looked aroon the bar again. Ah looked at the Rangers taps on the cavemen’s backs. Ah put ma hond tae ma heart, right oan the tri-colour and the lyrics fae the “Fields of Athenry” tattoo ah’d goat twenty year ago. We baith smiled. We baith knew whit wis under that shirt ah mine. It was mah fuckin’ Star a David. Ma brandin’. A fuck you tae the filthy hun establishment that put honest wurkin’ cunts like me in the fuckin’ wheely chair fir a wee wage and a giggle. “So ah know whit it’s like son.”

He didnae say anythin’. Ah took a big swally and cooled aff. It aw ways got me heated when ah thought about they dirty orange bastards. He just sat there aw slumped. Tae say he reminded me ah maself wid be bein’ blindly sentimental. In truth he wis mare ai his mother’s son thin his faither’s son. He wis aw ways a bit soft. Aw ways cryin’. Ah thought fir years he wid grow up a poofter. Tae say ah wis relieved when he started seein’ that wee Mary lassie wid be an understatement. But it nivir stoaped me hinkin’ thir wis somethin’ funny about the wee cunt.

“Ah left Glesga in ’74. Ad hud a fallin’ oot wi ma faither. Ye know fine well how that turned oot.”

The boy nodded. Ah’d telt him a hunner times aboot that drunken auld bastard. He could slap a squint straight that cunt.

“Ah wis loast. Ma first bird Florence hud just fucked off wi ma cousin Jerry an the ship yards were layin’ boys aff left an right. Ah thoat ‘fuck it’, time fir a change. Billy Breeks hud moved up here a couple a months afore and he wis aw ways tellin’ me how it wis the hippy paradise. The quiet life fir the workin’ man. Me bein’ the daft hippy cunt ah wis back then, ah thoat ‘why not?’ Ah kin cut it wi they teuchter cunts. So up ah came. Got ma pay oan the Friday, packed ma shit oan the Saturday, on Billy’s flare by the Sunday. And that wis that.”

The boy looks up at me. He looks at me like ah’ve just pished oan his fish.

“Why the fuck are you tellin’ me this?” he says. “Whit fuckin’ difference does this make tae me!?”

“Ho!” ah says, raisin’ ma backhond tae the wee cunt. Ah’d smacked so many cheeky smiles aff that wee cunt’s face that I hod his grin printed oan the back of ma hond. “Ah’m tellin’ ye aboot ma life! Maybe ye kin learn a fuckin’ thing or two.”

“Whit? Like how tae be a fuckin’ work dodgin’ pish-heed?” he snaps.

We sit opposite wan another, locked in a stare. If we were in the hoose ah’d’ve leathered the leather aff his arse. And he knew it. Smart wee cunt. But we were no in the hoose. We were in a pub. Ah just kept starin’ him oot. He looks right fuckin’ back in all. Ah wanted tae fuckin’ tan him. But fir the first time he’s no lookin’ scared ah me. He’s lookin’ fuckin’ ready. Like ah’ve seen a hunner boys look afore. But somewhere inside the wee cunt, ah see the wee boy ah raised tae be that man starin’ back at me. Ah put ma hond doon. Ah take another swally ah ma pint.

“Ah’m just tryin’ tae tell ye a thing or two. Ah wis young once. Fuckin’ young. Ah wis younger than you when ah wis older than you. Just you fuckin’ remember that.” Ah says, pointin’ ma fag at him, no quite sure whit that meant. But ah knew it sounded like somethin’ Davy Flash wid say.

“Ah know. Sorry da” he says, heed down, checkin’ at that phone again.

“It’s no bother,” ah says, coolin’ aff again. “Ah’m just tryin’ tae help.”

“I know.”

We baith took a big gulp, in silence.

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Anyone but England

In Scotland we have a saying, ‘A.B.E.’. This stands for ‘Anyone But England’. A.B.E. is not a mentality held by every resident in Scotland. There are in fact, despite some aggressive rural movements, some English people hiding amongst us. This term applies mainly to sports, and most commonly to football (soccer), where petty bigotry and racism is a staple part of the game. Due to Scotland’s deplorable showing at almost every sporting event besides curling and beer pong, we tend to get jealous of the English and their successes, regardless of how meager they actually are. We don’t like to see them win. At anything.

The Clachan Arms, Achnafachel. June 2006. England reached the quarter finals of the World Cup. They were playing Portugal. Scotland didn’t qualify for the World Cup. We, one of the founding nations of the sport of football, failed to make it into the top thirty-two teams in the world. But being a nation of football fans, we had to unite together and support someone. That team happened to be A.B.E.

Now, I grew up in an area which people don’t tend to leave. They tend to stay in the village, have kids in the village, die in the village. But the jobs in maintaining the quality of life in the village usually pay reasonably well. So the young guys have money. Enough money in fact to make a trip to the nearest town every few days to buy a football shirt for whatever team England is playing against. During the 2006 World Cup, the boys managed to find a Sweden shirt, a Paraguay shirt and even a Trinidad and Tobago shirt for the group stage matches. Wearing the colors of countries they couldn’t point to on a map, they would strut into the pub proudly declaring to everyone inside that they were not supporters of that country, but that they hated the English more than anyone else. As Scotsmen, it was their only chance to win at something football related.

Their problem came when England met Portugal in the Quarter finals. A lot was riding on this game for the English. They had reminisced about their triumph in 1966 for as long as they possibly could. The commentators had been wheeling their geriatric victory out at every opportunity and force feeding it to the viewers at home. In this particular game it took the commentators thirteen seconds to mention 1966. Their words were met with a resounding “Fuck off you English cunts!” by a roomful of drunken, bitter Scots. But the boys in the Clachan Arms needed a Portugal shirt to visualize their disdain.

When they got to the local town on the day of the match, the sports shop had sold out. Clearly because this idea of playful racism was shared by other local people and the shop had not foreseen such prejudice in their patrons. The boys didn’t know what to do. They understood that merely walking into the bar clad in a Scotland shirt or a red t-shirt would not be enough to prove their inherent, uninformed hatred for the English. But as they trudged back to their van, they passed a costume shop. And they had an idea.

Five minutes before kick-off, the doors of the Clachan Arms swung open like a western saloon. The two boys walked through the door. The bustling, eager pub fell silent and all eyes looked away from the TV screen and towards them. The boys held their heads high as they strutted through the pub. They were wearing ponchos, sombreros, fake moustaches and each carrying a nylon strung acoustic guitar. They arrived at the bar and ordered two Coronas. With Lemon. An elderly gentleman looked them up and down as he turned away from the screen.

“What the fuck have you boys come as?” he asked.

The boys looked at each other, taking in their image.

“We’re Portuguese,” they said in unison.

“You’re fucking Mexican!”

“I know,” said the shorter one, “we just didn’t know what Portuguese people looked like.”

 

 

That’s a true story.

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